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Monday, July 20, 2009

Despite Public Confidence: Health Care Reform is in BIG Trouble

The president has proclaimed that no one should doubt he and his allies and their ability to produce sweeping health care reform. Certainly, the president must put on that public face. Furthermore, the president is supremely confident and so I don't doubt that he believes that he will be able to pull this off. In reality, there continues to be more and more roadblocks. The most recent setback is this poll by WAPO showing the president's approval on health care slipping below 50%.

Heading into a critical period in the debate over health-care reform, public approval of President Obama's stewardship on the issue has dropped below the 50 percent threshold for the first time, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Then, the Associated Press is reporting that the White House is delaying release of the latest quarter's budget numbers. (raising speculation that our deficit is large, even MUCH LARGER, than predicted by the administration)

The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today's bleak landscape.

The administration's annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Barack Obama's budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through Congress.

The release of the update — usually scheduled for mid-July — has been put off until the middle of next month, giving rise to speculation the White House is delaying the bad news at least until Congress leaves town on its August 7 summer recess.

Then, OMB director Peter Orzag foolishly left open the possibility that under the public option there might be tay payer funded abortions.

The final voting on any bill is likely to be razor thin. Those that support the Democrats' health care bill likely would support tax payer funded abortions. Those on the fence are much more likely to be swayed against it if this provision is in there than the opposite. So, all the White House is doing by being wishy washy on this issue is making it more difficult to pass a final bill.

Then, the nation's governors held their annual meeting and many expressed serious reservations about health care reform and their financial strains on their states.

The nation’s governors, Democrats as well as Republicans, voiced deep concern yesterday about the shape of the healthcare bill emerging from Congress, fearing that the federal government is about to hand them expensive new Medicaid obligations without providing the money to pay for them.

The role of the states in a restructured healthcare system dominated the summer
meeting of the National Governors Association here this weekend - with bipartisan animosity voiced against the Obama administration’s plan during a closed-door luncheon Saturday and in a private meeting yesterday afternoon with the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius.

Most devastating is the revelation that twenty freshman Democrats have come out in unison against the plan to raise taxes on the superwealthy and the weekend confirmation that the Blue Dogs have banded together against the current proposal.

Twenty freshman Democrats, led by Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.), have threatened a revolt against the $544 billion worth of tax increases spelled out in the House bill — one of the two revenue pillars holding up the Democrats' promise of producing a “deficit-neutral” healthcare bill that is expected to cost more than $1 trillion.


Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has vowed to finish his markup by midweek as promised. But the Blue Dogs have said they have enough votes to kill the bill in committee if changes aren’t realized. And on issues where the committee lacks jurisdiction, such as the tax portion, Blue Dogs have warned that there are enough votes to kill the bill on the floor as well.

As such, right now the Democrats simply don't have the votes to pass what has been presented.

Furthermore, the CBO has calculated that the current proposal also will add $239 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. The White House disputes this calculation because it includes $245 billion in payments from Medicare to doctors to cover shortfalls. They did this to get crucial support from the American Medical Association. The AMA was concerned that the health care reform package would squeeze doctors even further when treating medicare patients. Of course, this payment IS IN THE BILL. The Democrats are trying to remove it from the budget as if it were removed it wouldn't be paid. All of this is very critical because the president assured America that he wouldn't sign any bill that would add further to the deficit.

Put all of this together and fifteen days before the summer recess we're nowhere near passing health care reform. The President and the Democrats will put together a full court media and legislative press on health care reform this week and until the recess. Of course, it's totally unclear just how they will resolve the issues at hand.

They currently are nowhere near the votes to pass what's been put forward. As such, if something were to pass, something different would have to emerge and move through both houses by August 7 (which is my birthday). August 7th also happens to be the day that July's employment numbers come out. If July's jobs numbers are poor, that will make health care reform nearly impossible. The president's popularity will erode even further. Americans will have serious questions about whether or not his vision will work. Furthermore, most people will demand job creation not health care reform.

In my estimation, health care reform is on life support.

Finally, here is my blue print for health care reform.


Matt Osborne said...

Really? Olympia Snow endorsed the public option on Sunday. The CBO says it will actually save money on healthcare spending. And the industry's pressure ads have dropped all mention of the public option.

In fact, the only bad news for health care reform is that people don't think it will happen, and there are a few lobbyist-owned Villagers willing to hold up reform at all costs.

But Obama has two weapons: one, the pressure campaign he's launched against recalcitrant Democrats; and two, he has the Constitutional authority to call a special session of Congress and cancel their five-week vacation. And I doubt Congress would get ANY sympathy from the public.

mike volpe said...

I've heard nothing about Snowe, and your allusion to the CBO is simply a lie. The pressure ads I don't know about and don't care.

The public is turning against Obama and his agenda and the polls back me up. You seem to have a lot of rhetoric and not much more.

Anonymous said...

The best way to fund the health care is to tax the rich.

Critics don't make the obvious complaint--that the tax increases would target high-value political contributors who are important to congressional Republicans and to Democrats who can't depend on contributions from labor unions or liberal professionals.

mike volpe said...

The rich already pay plenty in taxes. The problem is that there's only so much you can soak them before you run out of money.