Category Archives: Blue Dogs

CBO Rains On Reform Parade…again

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.

Top Dog: “I’ve been lied to…”

It’s really getting ugly.  From The Hill:

House healthcare negotiations dissolved in acrimony on Friday, with Blue Dog Democrats saying they were “lied” to by their Democratic leaders.

The main culprit appears to be Henry Waxman, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

The seven Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee stormed out of a Friday meeting with their committee chairman, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), saying Waxman had been negotiating in bad faith over a number of provisions Blue Dogs demanded be changed in the stalled healthcare bill.

Waxman, it appears, has been playing both sides to the middle within the broader Democratic caucus, and it all broke into the open on the subject of the public option.  Emotions are running HOT:

“I’ve been lied to,” Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chairman Charlie Melancon (D-La.) said on Friday. “We have not had legitimate negotiations.

“Mr. Waxman has decided to sever discussions with the Blue Dogs who are trying to make this bill work for America,” Melancon said.

Although those Blue Dogs were supposed to be headed back into another meeting of the Energy and Commerce Democrats, their anger was visible.

Reports later in the day showed that reconciliation was in the works.  From Politico:

Late Friday, Democrats stepped back from the precipice of intra-party war – and back to the health care bargaining table – hours after a bitter verbal spat between top Blue Dog Democrats and Henry Waxman, the liberal chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee.

 A contrite and weary Waxman joined a top Dog, Mike Ross (D-Ark.) to announce talks were back on track to hash out differences between fiscal conservatives who want cost cuts and progressives who want more services…

…“Our colleagues have pulled us back from the brink,” Waxman said. “Nothing is off the table… Our colleagues made it very clear they want us to succeed.”

The meltdown came after Waxman threatened to by pass the committee vote–and the 7 Blue Dog on the committee–and bring the bill directly to the floor.  According to Politico, that is still an option favored by more liberal Democrats:

Some House progressives, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are open to a nuclear option – bypassing the committee altogether and taking the bill directly to the floor.

 Is this anyway to get ready for Summer vacation?

With Congressional and Public Support Wavering, Obama Ratchets Up Pressure and Rhetoric on Reform

Judging from the tone and tenor of President Obama’s statement on Friday and his stinging weekly radio/internet address on Saturday, it was not a good week for health reform…the President is not a happy man.

But he is a smart man, and he senses the momentum for health reform slipping away.  He is siezing control of the agenda big time, and will put on a full court press this week to push conservative Dems to get on the bus–with Sen. Baucus/Senate Finance and the Blue Dogs his primary targets.   Multiple major press events are scheduled every day this week, with Wednesday nights prime time address (8:00 pm ) the centerpiece of the strategy.

Why the big push?  Clearly, time is not the friend of health reformers.  Public support is slipping, and Republicans are playing on the broader concern many Americans have for government run healthcare.  But there is another reason as well.  The President sees more negative momentum coming, in the form of the semi-annual budget revisions (POSTPONED–more on that later) and opposition expressed by Governors about new unfunded Medicaid mandates. 

 Also, recent polling data seem to suggests that public is growing wary of major changes and the President’s concern is well placed.  From Rasmussen:

 Cost, Not Universal Coverage, is Top Health Care Concern for Voters

50% Oppose Government Health Insurance Company

78% Say Health Care Reform Likely to Mean Higher Taxes for the Middle Class

Also, from Zogby:

U.S. Adults Dislike Healthcare Bill

Poll shows falling support for health care reform

 And from ABC News/Washington Post:

Poll Shows Obama Slipping on Key Issues: Approval Rating on Health Care Falls Below 50 Percent

 

After all…there is a reason it has taken 60 years to get this far on healthcare reform…

Where is the Luv??? Obama Live @ 3:15 Today (Friday 7/17)

The President will end the week with a 3:15 press event on healthcare.  For sure, not the way he was hoping to end the week on his top domestic policy.

The week started with the President’s return to the states and his re-engagement in the health reform push.  Momentum from the release of the House Bill and the 3 committee Senate agreement has been effectively killed by deep dissension among Democtrats on the pace, structure and–most critically–the financing of the potential reform.

From todays Washington Post:

Congress’s chief budget analyst delivered a devastating assessment yesterday of the health-care proposals drafted by congressional Democrats, fueling an insurrection among fiscal conservatives in the House and pushing negotiators in the Senate to redouble efforts to draw up a new plan that more effectively restrains federal spending.

With coverage like this, it’s no wonder moderate/conservative Dem’s want to slow down.  In a few minutes will see how hard the President is willing to push.  Meanwhile, can I hear it for Fergie, Wil.i.am and the Peas???