Meeting with Speaker Pelosi, wrap-up

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Mar 15, 2010 at 14:58


Key takeaways from today's meeting with Speaker Pelosi on health reform:

  • Who killed the public option?  When asked about the public option, Speaker Pelosi said she was told there were not enough votes for it in the Senate.  She did not name names, which isn't surprising, as I don't believe she has ever named names on matters such as these.

    Further, she endorsed single-payer, claimed that kept the public option alive as long as she could, and said her goal was to round up enough votes to pass the boldest bill possible.

  • Public options already in the Senate bill (Medicaid and Community Health Center expansion). The Speaker indicated that the reconciliation bill corrects Medicaid funding inequities by providing more federal support, and also expands funding for Community Health Center funding.

    If the CHC funding was expanded to the degree as did the House bill in November, that would mean another 6,000,000 people would receive public primary care due to the reconciliation bill.  That is the same number of people who would receive public health insurance from the creation of a new  public option in the exchange.

  • Can the bill still be changed?  In response to my inquiry about whether the bill can still be changed or not, the Speaker indicated that the bill is substantively done and just awaiting final word from the CBO.  Only minor changes would be conducted from here on out, all of them while working with the CBO.

    On this front, the Speaker emphasized the need for quick passage, ruling out any significant changes.  She referred to Washington as the "city of the perishable." The Speaker said that if the process drags out any longer it will make the town halls of august look like a day at the beach, given the forces that are lining up to defeat the bill.  

  • Vote counting  Pelosi said the whip operation began on Friday, and she does not have numbers yet.  Seemed very confident about passage.

  • Procedural notes  Speaker Pelosi said that both she, and the majority of the caucus, were leaning toward a procedure where they would not directly vote on the Senate health reform bill itself.  Instead, they would vote on a rule that would mean the Senate health reform bill had passed the House once the reconciliation bill passed the House. So, they vote on the rule, then on the reconciliation bill, and when the reconciliation bill passes, it means the Senate health reform bill has passed the House and can be signed into law.

    In this way, the House does not directly vote on the Senate bill, and the Senate bill  passes the House simultaneously with the reconciliation bill.  Expect the House to take this path.

  • Getting assurance from the Senate. Speaker said that the House was seeking an iron clad guarantee that the reconciliation bill would not be changed in the Senate.  When I asked her what sort of guarantees the House was looking for, she said they had asked the Senate "to show us what they can show us to convince us they have the votes for the bill we pass."
Speaker Pelosi is very engaging in person.  She was animated in her defense of the bill as a progressive victory, and said those who support its passage can, and should, do so with pride.

All of my notes on the meeting can be found here.  Looks like I made about 45 tweets on the meeting.

Chris Bowers :: Meeting with Speaker Pelosi, wrap-up

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This buck passing on the PO is getting laughable (4.00 / 6)
It pisses me off and I never gave more than half a shit about the PO; I don't why it doesn't infuriate most of the people who used to care about it a lot.  

They want to believe the lie. (4.00 / 6)
Pelosi makes an absurd and insulting argument about the public option, but it will work for those who can't deal with reality. You got nothing, but, "hey, I am going to slap that label that you wanted on what we are doing. Congrats." The reality is that progressives got nothing. Eddie Murphy would say "to the starving man even stale crumbs seem like a gourmet meal." Progressives are starving and lack the mind set to think beyond the crumbs.

[ Parent ]
Pelosi should just eat it... (0.00 / 0)
She has credibility on the subject.  She should just say the truth... she doesn't have the votes in the house anymore to pass it 'cos she has to woo conservadems 'cos of the Stupak block and the loss of Wexler, Murtha, and Abercombie.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Or she could really tell the truth (0.00 / 0)
And say that she doesn't want to try to round up the votes at this late, fragile stage.  

[ Parent ]
No, it is better to reinforce progressive psychology that (4.00 / 1)
anything is better than nothing. That way for the true believers they will write articles about how wonder the bill is as it stands. From her position, politically speaking, what she is doing as a politician given the circumstances of what passes for the left/progressive base, it is the smartest move she can make. Clearly the strategy of hot potato works. I expect to see more of it with future legislation.  

[ Parent ]
I think she's biting her lip (0.00 / 0)
and saying whatever she can think of to try and save this POS organization that was formerly called the Democratic Party.  I think down inside she is just fed up with what Obama has done.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
I don't know what is inside of her head. (0.00 / 0)
I don't need to know it either to know that when someone is so obviously blowing smoke up your ass, and the response is to respond favorably to it- that says a lot to the person blowing smoke up your ass.

[ Parent ]
There are so many corporate forces aligned against progressives (0.00 / 0)
I think we need to pick our targets carefully this time around.  She isn't worth the cost it would take to remove her.  We have plenty of overt corporatists  to shoot at this time.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
I am no longer involved in party politics (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
She had a hard enough time getting them... (0.00 / 0)
...the last time, and it's only gotten harder since then...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
The Stupak block is unrelated to the PO (0.00 / 0)
and they got around to vote for the PO last time.

It is also highly likely that a lot of the No votes in the November vote were "catch and release", so they could be persuaded to vote Yes, especially on a more conservative bill.

Also, no one has told me which Representatives see the inclusion of a PO as a dealbreaker.


[ Parent ]
Stupak bock is pro-PO... (0.00 / 0)
Some will vote no 'cos of Sutpak's delusional grandstanding.  Their votes need to be made up, somehow.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
Right (4.00 / 2)
and someone needs to point to me specifically which Representatives have stated their refusal to vote for any bill with a PO, that would vote for the bill otherwise.

Frankly, with the bill struggling to get 216 without a PO, this hand-wringing over how the PO will sink support for the bill if it were there seems a tad academic.

And even if the PO would cause the bill to fail, we should still get a vote on it, so the proper people can be held accountable. (We've already gotten stiffed out of a vote on Weiner's amendment for Medicare for All.) The doomsday scenario about how crafty Republicans will vote for the PO to sink the whole bill doesn't really pan out for me.


[ Parent ]
A little of both (0.00 / 0)
When you are down to a handful of votes, it is hard to tell the difference.  But I agree the real problem is the House, not the filibusterless Senate.

[ Parent ]
Well, if I may state the obvious (4.00 / 3)
You don't know till you try. I understand why Pelosi -- who unlike Obama and others -- seemed to really support the PO is loath to be convicted of killing it, but now by blaming the Senate she's making herself look as ridiculous as the rest of the gang.

This is one of the successes of the PO campaign: pols screw us on it but feel the need to pretend otherwise.  


[ Parent ]
Actually the success for the centrist is that they realize they can lie (4.00 / 4)
to us, and because many want to believe the lie, they can get what they wanted to get while simply mouthing the words of reform. So long as you say the right things, progressives will accept it.

[ Parent ]
The real success (4.00 / 3)
is that now when progressives start demanding "reform" be built upon, they'll still only demand a PO (and a weak one at that, if they look at the House version) and they'll be doing that having ceded much of the framing to the corporatist/conservatives.  Obama and the Dem leadership have successfully diverted a lot of activism from single payer to the PO and, having become so invested in the PO, a lot of them will stick with it (not all of them, but a lot of them).  

This is, in fact, a rousing success for Obama and the corporatist Democrats:

1) Progressives lauding the passage of Bob Dole's healthcare plan as a wonderful, monumental progressive acheivement;

2) To the extent this wonderful progressive acheivement needs to be fixed, all it needs is greater subsidies for the insurance industry and a public option (which will be designed to fail).  No need to look to single payer or, heaven forfend, socialized medicine.  Of course, having already framed it as a great progressive victory, albeit one that doesn't kick in for several years, makes it difficult to reopen the discussion at all (although you can bet the GOP will be looking to gut those subsidies); and

3) The bill already calls for Medicare "savings" and has framed the issue in terms of cost savings and the need to be deficit neutral, paving the way for the gutting of Medicare (and Social Security) by the deficit commission.

So basically, it's a complete wipe out for progressives, having lost on substance and framing, but when it passes, it will be a great victory over the Republicans!  Look, Sarah Palin!


[ Parent ]
If the PO doesn't pass in this bill, then forget it. (4.00 / 2)
The Public option may have been the best we could get out of this abomination of a bill, but if the bill passes without it, then forget the public option! Go for single payer (real Medicare for all, not Grayson's skin-flint version) or even NHS.

If the PO doesn't make it into the bill, drop it and go for something better.


[ Parent ]
re: po (4.00 / 2)
When asked about the public option, Speaker Pelosi said she was told there were not enough votes for it in the Senate.

did anyone ask her on how she feels on voting on a po/buy-in amendment?


heehee (0.00 / 0)
She referred to Washington ass the "city of the perishable."

Oh, inadvertent juvenile humor!  How I love it.


PO and CBO (0.00 / 0)
In response to my inquiry about whether the bill can still be changed or not, the Speaker indicated that the bill is substantively done and just awaiting final word from the CBO.  Only minor changes would be conducted from here on out, all of them while working with the CBO.

Hasn't the PO already been scored by the CBO?  So this could theoretically not be a problem... or is this just wishful thinking?


Wishful thinking (4.00 / 1)
This is a girl telling you she's washing her hair and cannot date you, even before you have named the specific night.  

It doesn't matter what the PO scored or what form it comes in, she's not going to put it in the legislation.  


[ Parent ]
How are Medicaid and Community Health Centers public options? (4.00 / 1)
I'm a member of the public.  But, to my knowledge, there are no community health centers near me.

I also can't just go sign up for Medicare.

Neither seems very "public" or very "optional"


Presumably there would be additional CHC's: (4.00 / 1)

another 6,000,000 people would receive public primary care due to the reconciliation bill.

I wish they would greatly expand them so they were all over the place.


[ Parent ]
They aren't (0.00 / 0)
except to the extent that "public option" has been so watered down as to be nothing more than a meaningless branding phrase and so can be applied to damned near anything.

[ Parent ]
If you're within the expanded... (0.00 / 0)
...income range you would be eligible for 100% government funded/provided Medicaid. Any general public citizen within the income ranges is eligible.

That said, it's a reach to call these "public options" in the context of how that phrase is used.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


[ Parent ]
100% government funded/provided Medicaid (4.00 / 1)
wtf is that? Do you mean "subsidized private insurance and/or Medicaid"? Because Medicaid is not 100% government funded.

In some states Medicaid gives you no better care than you'd get in prison, and you have to jump through multiple hoops to get even that.


[ Parent ]
Yes, Medicaid is 100% government funded... (0.00 / 0)
...and the Cornhusker Kickback expanded to all states (so it's not a one-state payoff) means it will now all be federal funding.

Furthermore, eligibility is being significantly expanded to remove some of the "hoops" you complain about. Finally, the level of care is substantially better than the ER triage and release care that is the only safety net for those people now.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


[ Parent ]
I hate to say it (4.00 / 2)
But this bill is now as good as it will be this electoral season.  I guess it should be passed and we'll regroup after the next mess to add Medicare for all, but given what's on the table now this is it.  I would still LOVE to see an actual vote on some sort of PO, but that isn't going to happen.  

Note though that I still believe Democrats are going to lose their asses this election over this crap and they deserve to.  I look forward to supporting progressive contenders against any of these centrist types (Pelosi included) in hopes of one day being able to push through meaningful reform.

Ugh, this battle was a shitty mess for America, I'm genuinely embarrassed by our national discourse (or more notably, the lack of it.)

I hope Chris B. and the Dem support crew are ready, you are about to get everything you want.  


If this bill (4.00 / 3)
is the best the Democrats can do with a completely discredited GOP, a strong victory in the Presidential election, a large majority in the House and (at one point) 60 Senators, then it is an indictment of the entire Democratic party.  

[ Parent ]
Yes, I agree (0.00 / 0)
but regardless it's as good as we can get before the 2010 elections.  If we push for anything more or demand a PO, I have no doubt the entire thing unravels and becomes unpassable.  In this Pelosi is not lying, the longer this takes from here on out, the worse the chance of passage.

Don't get me wrong, I'll be pushing for a PO or Medicare for all the day after this passes, whether it takes a month or several electoral cycles.  But until we (progressives) engage in more party building and stop enabling the corporate wing of the Democratic party, we honestly cannot hope to do any better.  

I say pass it but that's with 51% of my approval.  The other 49% is screaming kill this shit bill, either way I don't really care anymore.  To hell with it, at least we learned how much we can trust Obama to back us up next time.  


[ Parent ]
So, right after it doesn't matter anymore, you'll start pushing for it? (0.00 / 0)
Umm, dude. you're "enabling the corporate wing of the Democratic party", right there.

[ Parent ]
Been pushing for it every day willf (0.00 / 0)
What I'm saying is that effort (for me) will continue regardless of this bill's fate.

And let's stop with the now or never talk.  Politics can change on a hairpin, no one (and I mean no one) knows what the landscape will look like in 2012, 2014, or beyond.  At best we can make an educated guess, but it's still whistling in the dark.  After all, who really thought 2010 would look this bad after the incredible Democratic swell of 2008?  A pullback maybe, but this sort of rout 1.5 years after Obama took office?  I certainly didn't.

So we move on.  But again, yes, I think this is the best (very lukewarm) health care bill we can get right now (and for probably the next 2 years.)  So I'll hold my nose and support it.  If it fails for some reason though, can't say I'll lose any sleep over it...


[ Parent ]
Supporting this bill IS enabling corporate democrats. (4.00 / 1)
If it passes, it will be much longer than 2 years before we get a shot at passing something good. This POS bill will empower the very same people who made this bill so awful.

Better to let it die.


[ Parent ]
As Russ Feingold said (4.00 / 2)
Obama (and the leadership) got the bill they wanted.  The question now is, will progressives keep voting for these corporate Democrats.  I'm betting yes.  In my opinion the majority of progressives are exactly what Rahm Emanuel said they were.  Fucking Retards.  After all, he won, didn't he.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Progressives will (0.00 / 0)
Union members (who not only need to vote, they need to volunteer), women, gays, and the poor and working class?  I'm not so sure.  

[ Parent ]
What universe are you guys from? (0.00 / 1)
All this jabber about a PO. Perhaps it's eluded all of you but here are a few facts:

1. The Dem Party's power peaked with a super-majority just before the Massachussettes election.
2. Pass the bill or not (reconciliation or not)...the Dems are going to get WAXED in November. I predict they'll lose the House, but even if they don't, their ability to get radical legislation passed will be just about zero.
3. The PO and Single Payer couldn't pass even with the super-majority. By what mind-boggling rationale do any of you think it will happen after November?

You guys had your shot all last year, and you screwed it up. I don't blame you though; ideologues always go all-in with radical legislation. You would rather end up with no loaf at all rather than settle for an ideologically impure half a loaf.


"public option" "radical" (4.00 / 1)
choose one, for they cannot co-exist

[ Parent ]
"Half a loaf"? What a crock of shit. (4.00 / 1)
If you start with Single Payer, then the public option reimbursing on medicare rates and available nationally was going to be the "half a loaf". Then when that was gone, a weaker public option was going to be "half a loaf", then, when that was deemed as being still too much bread, it was a Medicare buy-in, then even that was gone and we're stuck with the corporate bailout bill we have now.

You'd need Xeno's Paradox to even imagine the "half a loaf" we are left with.

It's more like half a moldy crust smeared with shit and sprinkled with broken glass.

Mmmm, tasty!


[ Parent ]
What universe did YOU come out of, Mr. I-Just-Joined-Open-Left-Today-and-Am-Kicking-Up-a-Shit-Storm-With-My-Very-First-Comment? (0.00 / 0)
Maybe in the alternate universe you just fell out of "we" were actually responsible for "screwing up" the PO.  But in this universe where the rest of us have been, we've fought the hardest for the PO, and it was President Obama and Senators Nelson, Lieberman, Lincoln and Landrieu who let us down.

And the "radical" PO has 60-65% majority support.  I hope you're enjoying your little corner of non-radical-ness, though.  Must be comfortable hanging out with insurance execs and hyperventilating teabaggers.


[ Parent ]
probably twitter (0.00 / 0)
#passthedamnbill #crooksandliarscommenters #markoscallingsomeoneelse"little"

[ Parent ]
feel free (4.00 / 1)
to cheer this bill's passage.  But please stop calling it a progressive victory.  It's a progressive loss.

As Seth Ackerman wrote, this plan was Bob Dole's old plan from 1994.

Is Bowers on Ezra Klein's list?  Hacktacular.


"Public options" already in the bill (4.00 / 2)
Let's break it down. Medicaid is supposed to get another 15 million members. Of that, 5 million are people already eligible who don't know it. Medicaid already has about 50 million members. In addition SCHIP covers about 10 million children that will be folded into Medicaid under reform. So really we're talking about a 10/60 = 17% expansion of Medicaid. Nice, but by no means a public option.

Now the community health centers. They take care of a lot of Medicaid patients, but their fastest growing demographic is patients who have insurance but can't afford to use it. The problem is those people go in claiming to be uninsured and the CHCs lose a lot of money. Expect more of these people after reform. Overall, I think Sander's $10-14 billion is going to fund a nice expansion of CHCs but most of it is going to cover increased operating losses. Again, not a public option.


bowers (0.00 / 0)
am i to believe that "given the forces that are lining up to defeat the bill" forces are just now waking up? breid

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