(Updated: Here is the just-released text of all 1990 pages of the health care bill.)
Harrycare is in more trouble now than a week ago when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) staged a delivery to the CBO (with no release of the language to the public). Reid’s bill is in so much trouble that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is set to unveil Pelosicare today to help put the government takeover of health care on life support.
The Senate has a procedure called a “Motion to Proceed to Consideration,” which brings a bill to the floor to begin debate. Under normal procedures, this motion is usually handled by unanimous consent with no objections. With an objection, the motion has a 60-vote threshold to reach cloture on the motion, which is debatable. Cloture would have to be reached to end debate on the motion.
You never really hear much about it, having had its big moment during the 2004 Presidential elections. The Motion to Proceed vote on funding for the Iraq War was the procedural vote at the center of the infamous quote from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
The procedural formality had its 15 minutes of fame.
Now Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is having trouble reaching the necessary votes out of his 60-vote majority to bring the bill to the floor for debate. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said yesterday that he doesn’t see “much difference between process and policy at this particular juncture” and that he’ll be “looking at those two things as one and the same.”
Government-run health care must be really unpopular back home in Indiana. Bayh apparently doesn’t want to even give a hint of a perception of a nod toward anything remotely resembling that he ever voted for this turkey before he voted against it.
If Bayh doesn’t vote for cloture on the Motion to Proceed and the Republican 40-vote caucus holds firm, Harrycare won’t make it to the Senate floor at all.
Pelosicare Moves to the Forefront of the Health Care Circus
Speaker Pelosi is expected to offer her amalgamation of the H.R. 3200 committee bill trifecta of government-run health care today at a morning press conference. No word as of deadline whether she’d release the actual bill for scrutiny by the public. That didn’t work out too well in July and August.
For the sake of clarity, we’ll just call this new bill Pelosicare. So if there are competing bills at this moment — given the President’s invisibility on policy questions — there’s Harrycare and Pelosicare. Obamacare? Who knows what that is?
Pelosicare could come up for a vote on the House floor as early as next week. As we reported on HUMAN EVENTS yesterday, Pelosi is having problems of her own whipping up 218 votes to pass the government option in the House.
Moving on the bill in the House is risky especially for the Blue Dog Democrats in re-election jeopardy as they’d be asked to walk the plank on another unpopular bill before the Senate takes action. They’ve already been forced to vote to pass the highly unpopular cap-and-trade national energy tax, and the Senate has not even considered the bill. So much for Pelosi’s Blue Dog career advice.
There are still many issues up in the air on the House side (like timing on language release, whether or not it will be a reconciliation bill, scheduling, allowance of 72 hours to read the bill, a 500-page manager’s amendment no one got to read substantially changing the bill being dropped in the wee hours before the vote as Dems did with cap and trade), very few of which are expected to be settled at the Pelosi event scheduled this morning. More than likely, it’s just an announcement that the new bill exists, it contains a “robust public option” and a show of solidarity with some members of the House leadership standing together on the West Capitol Steps saying how proud they’ll be when they pass government-run health care. More style over substance. You heard it here first, folks.
Stay tuned. HUMAN EVENTS will be there.
Republicans on the “Public Option” Name Change Option
One of the most telling developments in the health care debate is the desire by House Democrats to re-brand the name “public option” to call it something — anything — else. Pelosi this week unveiled “consumer option.” Other Democrat leaders floated the “Medicare Part E” trial balloon calling their idea Medicare for Everyone. It’s simply a re-brand of the “public option” because people don’t understand a public option, but they already know Medicare.
Again, it’s all about perception, not truth.
Every Democrat plan to date cuts a half-trillion dollars out of Medicare parts A (hospitals), B (doctors), C (Medicare Advantage) and D (drugs). I asked Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, yesterday if Medicare Part E would cover seniors at all or if they’d just be stuck in the rest of the alphabet soup.
“When you’re talking about $500 billion in cuts, we’ve heard rumors of cuts to Medicare A, B, C and D to fund something they’re calling Medicare Part E, and it is really remarkable,” Pence said. “We don’t really know. … It is astonishing that the President of the United States pledged as a candidate that when health care reform legislation was being debated that it would happen in broad daylight, and it would happen in front of C-SPAN cameras. … Now what’s been happening in recent weeks behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms people are gathered, representatives of the administration, leading liberals in the House and Senate, and special interest groups that are cobbling together legislation that we may soon get a peek at — but we honestly don’t know how they’re doing this. I expect it’s one of the reasons why this is even more troubling to American citizens.”
At a special hearing of the GOP House Doctors’ Caucus, eight physicians heard testimony and asked questions of medical experts from around the country broadcast to a group of over 29,000 physicians nationwide via internet participation groups.
If anyone knows about Medicare, it’s a doctor. I took the opportunity to ask a couple of them about this new Medicare Part E proposal.
Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) is the chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
“They’ve tried to figure out the fig leaf that would cover this the most and give the American people comfort in the fact that the government wants to take over health care,” Price said. “There’s no fig leaf that’s large enough to do that whether you call it Medicare E or whether you call it a public option or a co-op, whether you call it a trigger, whether you call it an opt-out — anything you call it will not provide a fig leaf large enough.”
I also caught up with Rep. John Fleming, M.D. (R-La.), a family physician.
“Democrats who are supporting this bill, H.R. 3200 and similar bills, they think the problem is a marketing problem — that they haven’t given it the right name to tickle the right brain cells,” Fleming said. “In fact, the reality is, it’s the bill itself — it’s the idea that’s the problem.”
Of Special Note
Republicans have put their full alternative bills and proposals offered this year by House Republicans all in one place on a website: Healthcare.GOP.gov
Next time a Democrat says the Republicans haven’t offered an alternative on health care, just tell them to click that up their, well, tell them to click on it.