Monday, March 22, 2010

Morning Must Reads from DCExaminer

New York Times -- Legal and Political Fights Loom for Democrats

An astonishing legislative achievement for Nancy Pelosi. It may blow up her party, but no one will say that she couldn’t get the job done when Barack Obama and Harry Reid couldn’t.
It was the Stupak Six who put the plan over the top, but to get the plan so close that the formerly anti-abortion Dems could flip, Pelosi had to get a lot of Democrats to make a politically unpalatable vote — including getting eight House members to switch from no to yes.
It was a much easier argument to make with those who had voted for the House version of the bill: The damage is already done so you may as well enjoy the upside of looking like a winner. But for the eight switchers, it was a tougher argument.
The list included two retirees who are beyond caring and three liberals, including Dennis Kucinich, from liberal district who lodged vanity protest votes in November. But there were three members from regular America who Pelosi got to make the switch: Allen Boyd of Florida, John Boccieri of Ohio, and Scott Murphy of New York. Good luck with that, fellas.
Now the rest of the fight: First, getting the Senate to approve the changes to the law passed last night by the House,
Second, making the bill stick in the courts, where attorneys general are lining up to sue. (My column on the coming legal battle is here.)
Failure in either regard will amplify the political consequences of Sunday’s vote.
Writers Jeff Zeleney and Sheryl Gay Stolberg (who has done a great job throughout the health care slog) look at how the battle will play out in the weeks and months to come:
“Republicans also expect to take advantage of the fact that while the health bill may ultimately help contain rising premiums, it is unlikely to actually bring the cost of health insurance down, and certainly not in the short term.
‘The question you’re going to see Republicans asking in November is, ‘Have your health insurance costs gone down?’ ” [Sen. John] Cornyn said. ‘And I think the answer to that is going to be no.’”

USA Today -- Abortion deal helps ensure enough votes for health care
Bart Stupak is going to have a long walk back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After hammering Obamacare for weeks on the grounds that it would allow federal subsidies for insurance policies that cover elective abortions, Stupak and five other members delivered the decisive votes for the plan after President Obama issued an executive order that simply reiterated the same language in the bill.
Liberals hate Stupak for wringing even this symbolic concession out of Democrats and conservatives hate Stupak for selling out in the end. As Sen. Ben Nelson found out, invoking abortion and then backing off comes with huge political costs.
For Obama, who has long preached the gospel of energizing the Democratic base come election time, the move further dampened the enthusiasm of a key Democratic constituency.
Writers Mimi Hall and John Fritze explain:
“Abortion rights supporters also objected. [National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League President] Nancy Keenan called Obama's executive order ‘deeply disappointing.’”

Wall Street Journal -- Steps You Can Take Ahead of Changes in Coverage, Taxes
Many kudos to writer Anna Wilde Matthews who explains to us what is in the bill passed by the House last night by telling us how to prepare for the changes the law will bring. Brilliant.
One of her suggestions goes to a big part of the new America – a country divided into those who have a doctor and those who take pot luck.
“Find a doctor.
There could be shortages. Including the reconciliation package, the bill is ultimately expected to add around 32 million people to the insured population, with the big influx starting in 2014. Provisions aimed at boosting the supply of primary-care physicians likely won't kick in fast enough to keep up with the flood of new patients, at least in certain parts of the country. Make sure you are on a doctor's dance card before he or she stops taking new patients.”

Washington Post -- Obama plans blitz to boost public opinion of health-care effortWriter Michael Shear passes along the White House’s three-step strategy for teaching Americans to love Obamacare as part of “public education” campaign.
First is the ascension: The president will sign the Senate bill in the next few days in a ceremony, the details of which are being kept secret so as to not rile House members who fear that once the Senate bill becomes law, the momentum to pass their modifications will disappear.
Then comes the pick and rollout: As the consumer-oriented parts of the bill go into effect in six months, Obama plans rallies to celebrate the good in health care. This comes even as the White House shovels legislation at Congress – Dodd’s permanent bank bailout, illegal immigration reform, etc. – in hopes of shrinking the relative size of Obamacare in the public imagination.
Finally, there is the imposition: Shear explains that team Obama is focused on making sure that the staged implementation of the plan over the next four years goes smoothly so as to enhance confidence in the process and create a permanent Democratic majority. Well, as long as they have a plan.
Vulnerable members of Congress, though, likely wish the president would shut up about it all, stop trying to educate the public, drop the idea of any more controversial votes and let them talk about “putting America back to work” for the next seven months.
The White House says don’t worry, we’re sending our team of high-tech community organizers to help you:
“One Democratic lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be considered critical of the president, said such support has been extremely limited. He said opponents of the legislation have run nearly $1 million worth of ads criticizing him, while supporters have spent about a tenth of that. Organizing for America "has been a paper tiger in my district," he said.”

New York Times -- Another Long March in the Name of Change

Oh, Carl Hulse! Really?
If you were a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Sunday was your big photo op day.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a reenactment of the Selma March with Martin Luther King’s friend Rep. John Lewis as she carried the gavel used to hammer in Medicare. There were a lot of mixed metaphors, but the dominant one was somehow that turning the health insurance industry into a government cartel was an extension of the quest for African American equality.
That picked up steam when several unidentified protesters allegedly yelled the n-word and spat at Pelosi’s marchers.
The fringe of the fringe may have done just that, or someone looking to discredit the protesters may have jumped in, or the historical froth in the minds of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and others may have exaggerated the situation. We don’t know because no one was arrested. Certainly the mass of protesters quickly denounced any such ugly behavior.
Whatever the case, it was ambrosia to Hulse, who gobbled up the Obamacare = Selma storyline.
“Representative Barney Frank, the openly gay Massachusetts Democrat who had anti-gay slurs hurled at him by protesters, said the opposition had spiraled badly out of control.
“It is almost like the Salem witch trials,” Mr. Frank said. “The health bill has become their witch. It is a supernatural force, and you get hysteria. There is an anger obviously that goes beyond anything connected to the bill.”
Despite the protests, despite the months of cable television denunciations, despite their warnings that Democrats would be massacred at the polls in November, despite their concerted effort to attack the measure from nearly every conceivable angle, Republicans ultimately found themselves powerless to stop it.”

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