Ahh, politics. Darned people, they don’t understand what we’re doing is good for them, so we’ll just have to show them. What? We’ve got a Senator holding it up…well, it’s gonna get bad for him then. I’m telling you, this is my moment and you people better pass this….
Here’s hoping his moment goes down in flames…way to go Joe!
from the Politico…
Obama: ‘Last chance’ for health reform
By: Carrie Budoff Brown and Mike Allen
December 14, 2009 08:26 PM EST
In a provocative argument designed to rescue his foundering health care plan, President Barack Obama will warn Senate Democrats in a White House meeting Tuesday that this is the “last chance” to pass comprehensive reform.
Obama will contend that if it fails now, no other president will attempt it, aides said.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told POLITICO: “If President Obama doesn’t pass health reform, it’s hard to imagine another president ever taking on this Herculean task. For those whose life’s work is reforming health care, this may be the last train leaving the station.”
Previewing the message, Vice President Joe Biden said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “If health care does not pass in this Congress … it’s going to be kicked back for a generation.”
The new argument comes as the Senate races to pass the measure by Christmas, in the face of a costly setback this week. Senate Democrats say they are prepared to drop a plan to expand Medicare coverage after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said he could not support it.
That could keep the bill alive but would infuriate the party’s liberals, who feel the moderate Lieberman has thwarted them once again.
Biden said on MSNBC: “”Say it ain’t so. … Joe is a great guy. … I think Joe’s judgment is wrong on this.”
Senate strategists say the current impasse will have to be resolved in the next couple of days in order to allow passage by year’s end.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declined to say whether the Medicare expansion would be dropped and was waiting for congressional scorekeepers to put a price tag on the plan before making a final decision.
But several senators — including Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — said it appeared Democrats faced with the reality of needing Lieberman’s vote to get to the 60 needed for passage, would drop the Medicare expansion.
“The general consensus was, we shouldn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said after leaving a caucus meeting. “And if in order to get all the insurance reforms accomplished, a number of the other good things in the bill, dropping the Medicare expansion was necessary, then that’s what should be done. And it appeared that would be necessary to get the 60 votes.”
Asked if Reid explicitly dropped the Medicare plan, Bayh said, “That’s what it sounded like to me.”
For his part, Lieberman said he had not received a promise that the Medicare buy-in idea would be dropped from the bill. “Not an explicit assurance, no,” Lieberman said.
“This is a classic case where you have to bring 60 people together. There are more than me that had concerns about different parts of this bill, but I think we’re making progress,” he said. “I think we’re in the reach of a very significant accomplishment. … It will change the lives of people forever.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) also said it appeared Democrats were moving toward a bill without the Medicare option. “It looks that way,” Harkin said.
Added Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a big supporter of the public option and the Medicare idea, “Things are not moving in the right direction.”
The move came after two days of high drama over health care, with Lieberman saying he’d fight the Medicare plan and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel urging Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman on reform, according to a source close to the negotiations.
Reid has no margin for error and needs Lieberman’s support to get the 60 votes needed to pass reform. So Democrats, after a late-afternoon caucus meeting, sounded resigned to giving up on the idea of allowing Americans ages 55 to 64 to buy into the popular insurance plan for seniors — which Lieberman and other moderates worried was too much like the “public option” that they had long opposed.
But talk of dropping the Medicare expansion angered the party’s liberals, who can’t believe a senator who no longer considers himself a Democrat is in the position of effectively vetoing a key part of the health reform bill. Liberals supported the Medicare expansion as a way to cover more of the uninsured in a government plan.Already, there was talk of retaliating against Lieberman, much as some Democrats sought to strip him of his Senate Homeland Security Committee chairmanship after he campaigned for Republican Sen. John McCain for president in 2008.
“The anger toward him right now is white hot,” said one senior Democratic aide.
President Barack Obama has called the Democratic Caucus to the White House for a meeting Tuesday.
Lieberman threw health care reform into doubt Sunday when he told Reid that he would join a filibuster of the bill if it allowed older Americans to purchase coverage in Medicare. That came just days after Reid had announced “broad agreement” on a bill that included the Medicare buy-in and plans to create a national health plan with private insurers.
That plan was itself a compromise from Reid’s original bill, which included a public health insurance option with a chance for states to opt out of the plan. Reid dropped that measure because of objections from moderates, including Lieberman, who threatened to filibuster that plan too.
Earlier Monday, Reid was described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he was not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill and first wanted to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. The analysis is expected early this week.
Democrats shared the majority leader’s frustration. In interviews with POLITICO, senior Democratic aides and senators laid out a range of emotions toward Lieberman — from outrage over what they believed was Lieberman’s blatant attempt to kill the bill to surprise over Lieberman’s apparent reversal on the Medicare buy-in, which he has supported in the past.
“It was a surprise to us because we felt that he was favorably inclined toward the package that came out of the negotiations, and we were working from that premise,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
On whether punishment should be levied, Durbin said: “That has not been discussed, and it won’t be. We’re going to get this bill passed.”
Among liberal activists, the anger grew as well. Adam Green, spokesman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said going through the budget reconciliation process is the way to make Lieberman “irrelevant. … Taking away Lieberman’s chairmanship is the way to teach a lesson to others.”
And some of Lieberman’s moderate colleagues seemed perplexed as well.
“Sen. Lieberman, it’s my understanding, proposed a similar measure [a] few years ago,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) . “So I’m not sure why he’s having a hard time with it today.”
Lieberman comments against the Medicare plan Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” set off a series of private meetings between the Senate leadership and top White House aides, including Emanuel, who recommended that Reid cut a deal, the official close to the negotiations said.
The White House issued a statement saying it is on the same page as Reid, working with him to find the best way to move forward with reform — not pushing him to do something he doesn’t want to do.
“The White House is not pushing Sen. Reid in any direction,” Pfeiffer said in a statement. “We are working hand in hand with the Senate leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible.”
Democrats had only limited options to move a bill ahead:
• Reach an agreement with Lieberman, which would mean stripping out the provisions that have kept progressives on board. This would very likely cause problems on the left — maybe even defections — unless the White House steps in to persuade senators such as Feingold and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
• Win over Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), but she has also voiced serious reservations about the Medicare expansion and has resisted Democratic pressure to speed up the bill.
• Use reconciliation, a procedural maneuver to get around a filibuster and the need for Lieberman’s vote. It remains on the table, but it’s not a viable option at the moment, the official said.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a liberal who voted to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship after the 2008 election, when Lieberman supported McCain, said he’s not “giving up” on wooing Lieberman. “I don’t want to make threats [against] anybody; it’s not my place to make them,” he said.
But Sen. Kent Conrad, a fellow centrist, said Lieberman has “every right” to take that position, should “absolutely not” be punished and wasn’t the only one worried about the Medicare buy-in. “It’s very clear — he vocalized concerns many were having,” Conrad said.
Still, within top offices of the Senate, there was clear concern that Lieberman seemed to be moving the goal posts. Lieberman has voiced support for a Medicare buy-in in previous campaigns, as well as in September, when he told the Connecticut Post that he supported the idea of expanding the entitlement program to people age 50 and older.
Marshall Wittmann, a Lieberman spokesman, said the senator voiced support for the Medicare buy-in before the Finance Committee approved a bill with subsidies for people across the board, including those ages 55 to 64. “The buy-in is completely unnecessary because of the strong subsidies in the core legislation,” Wittmann said.
hahaha…I love this one…do they thing there’s not enough ammo already?
What Democrats are particularly concerned about is waiting until next year to pass a bill, fearing that a laundry list of unfinished items will continue to pile up and give opponents ammunition to paint Reid and the Democratic leadership as having had an ineffectual year.