As you know by now I am obsessed with the Blue Dogs, the group of 52 fiscally conservative Dems in the House. Most of the infighting within the Democratic Party is of course led by the Dogs themselves and centers on the cost of health reform, specifically the balance between cost savings and new taxes and the overall impact on the deficit. Conventional wisdom in Washington has it that the Blue Dogs will oppose any bill without cost reduction provisions that are roughly equal to the new taxes required to fund healthcare reform.
Which is what makes the new CBO analysis released Saturday so important.
President Obama and the House leadership spent most of last week trying to schmooze, sell, strongarm, and otherwise cajole the Blue Dogs to support the House bill. There were some victories last week, such as the agreement among Dems to support a new Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC) to restructure medicare reimbursements. Among other things, this agreement was seen as a potentially significant cost savings proposal designed to appease Blue Dogs to some extent.
Then came Friday, as I re-capped here.
So while Democtars were busy repairing the impact of the Friday meltdown on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and in the process attempting to generate some much needed positive momentum, the CBO was finishing up their analysis of the IMAC proposal.
And just like that, the negative mojo was back:
The Congressional Budget Office told House leadership on Saturday that a White House plan for an independent advisory council to rein in Medicare spending would do little to save the government money over the next 10 years.
What’s important here is not the short term savings-IMAC was never designed to save any real money until 2020 and beyond–but the impact that this has on the Waxman-Blue Dog horse trading. This was supposed to be a substantially positive contribution to cost savings that Blue Dogs could point to when they return to their districts for the August recess. And now it won’t be.