Following the bipartisan health care summit
, President Obama is working hard to move health care reform forward. Congressional Democrats are shooting
for passage of a final bill by Easter. The plan to get the bill out of congressional gridlock, it seems, is to incorporate
Republican ideas for reform. There are a few theories why: Obama may be including GOP reforms to woo
the votes of on-the-fence conservative Democrats, he may be trying to
give the appearance of bipartisanship, or he may simply think they're
good ideas. Will the strategy work? Could the best
new hope for Democrat-led reform be the inclusion of Republican ideas?
- GOP Ideas Obama's Including The New York Times surveys
the four proposals: sending undercover health care workers to pose as
patients in sting operations, implementing high-deductible insurance
exchanges, testing alternative medical malpractice resolution systems,
and imposing "fiscally responsible" payment increases to Medicaid
- About Looking Bipartisan ABC News' Rick Klein insists
Obama is just including the ideas so the bill will look bipartisan, and
thus more tolerable, to voters. He says it worked. "In embracing some
Republican-offered ideas, the White House got the headlines it wanted
on Wednesday. Thursday's and Friday's need to look a little different."
- 'Providing Cover' for Conservative Dems The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder says
the move is designed to provide "cover for House Democrats -- at least
ten of whom are open to changing their 'no' votes to 'yes' votes on
health care." The 10 House Democrats in question, though unnamed, are
almost certainly conservative Democrats who had been wary of endorsing
health care reform without the inclusion of Republican ideas.
- Could Secure More Conservative Dem Yes Votes The New Republic's Jonathan Chait explains
why. "The Democratic leadership has an incentive to say they can get
the votes, because if members think the bill is going down, they have
an incentive to flee. And moderate to conservative members have an
incentive to express skepticism about the bill to preserve their
bargaining leverage. Discussions with a neutral third party (the press)
conducted anonymously give you the best sense of what might happen."
The 10 House Democrats who told reporters they'd now vote yes are just
- Health Care Already Full of GOP Ideas The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg scoffs
that Republicans have no excuses left. "Ideologically and
substantively, it is centrist. It has Republicans, and Republicanism,
in its family tree. For better or for worse, it's already bipartisan."
- Real Differences Ideological, Unbridgeable The Washington Post's Ezra Klein thinks
these are cosmetic compromises compared to the one fundamental
difference that can't ever be overcome. "Instead, as Lamar Alexander
said, Republicans have 'come to the conclusion that we don't do
comprehensive well.' And the president is not compromising on that
point." Klein quotes Obama: "Piecemeal reform is not the best way to
effectively reduce premiums, end the exclusion of people with
pre-existing conditions or offer Americans the security of knowing that
they will never lose coverage, even if they lose or change jobs."
- Negotiating Democratic Divide Think Progress's Igor Volsky notes
that the biggest split could be within the Democratic Party. "Obama
will have to appease progressive Democrats while simultaneously
retaining more moderate Democratic votes. The package will have to
invest more money in affordability affordability standards, move up the
excise tax thresholds and close the Medicare part D donut hole, all
while containing the cost of the legislation and ensuring enough
deficit reduction. It's a tough haul considering that Democrats might
also have to rely on Vice President Joe Biden to incorporate an abortion compromise in the reconciliation package if they hope to hold on to Stupak's pro-lifers."
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