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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What is Obama Health Care 2.0

President Obama urged an up or down vote as he unveiled his new proposal for health care reform.

President Obama urged Congress to schedule a vote on health care reform in the "next few weeks," declaring Wednesday that it's "time to make a decision" on the package, the product of a yearlong debate.

The president described the bipartisan summit held last week in Washington as the last leg of the health care reform debate. He said all arguments have been exhausted and that Congress owes the American people a final "up-or-down" vote.

"Every argument has been made," he said. "Everything there is to say about health care has been said and just about everybody has said it. So now's the time to make a decision about how to finally reform health care so that it works, not just for the insurance companies, but for America's families and America's businesses.

I agree with everything the president said in the third paragraph. What's not clear is exactly what the new proposal is. The president touted the fact that he used four of the Republicans ideas. Yet, it appears that those four ideas will be incorporated into a bill that will be largely unchanged beyond that from the bill that was being debated in the Senate prior to Scott Brown's election.

If that's the case, the President is trying to be cute with no hope of success. If he thought that sprinkling a few Republican ideas on top of an unpopular bill will make it popular his political instincts still need sharpening.

First, his idea of tort reform is an expansion of a pilot program. That's a great example of lip service. Frankly, it doesn't matter. Even if the president fully embraced all Republican ideas, it wouldn't do much if they were added on top of the Senate bill.

This is still a health care system in which the power is centralized in D.C. That's not something Republicans can embrace. It's, more importantly, not something that the voters are embracing. The president appears to have taken a deeply unpopular bill and made changes around the edges. That will do little to change the dynamic.

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