Monday, March 8, 2010

Approaching The Finale

I floated the idea from the previous post, about the House sending two "fix bills" (one with public option and one without) to the Senate for passage through reconciliation, around at DailyKos and at OpenLeft. There were lots of good comments but no one knew of any rule why the Congressional leadership couldn't do both: vote on an easy-to-pass reconciliation bill to merge the House and Senate health reform bills and vote on a more progressive reconciliation bill with a public option.

I think the takeaway point is that when you get down into the nitty gritty parliamentary rules, it's a bit murky. And in the end, interpretation of the rules is largely up to the President of the Senate, Biden, and the Senate Parliamentarian. So I think the focus should continue to be on pressuring Senate Democrats to support passage of a public health insurance option through reconciliation. Right now, 37 Senate Dems are on record supporting the public option through reconciliation. The closer that number gets to 50, the fewer excuses Democratic leadership have for telling us over and over again that the public option is dead.

All indications are that the current health care debate is going to reach its conclusion in the next couple of weeks, and we're going to find out if the Democrats can pass anything and, if so, what.

Tomorrow may provide the best visual of the where the situation stands: The health insurance industry's premier lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), will meet at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. to plot its next steps to block reform. Outside in the streets, thousands of union workers and members of grassroots health care reform groups will rally to put people before health insurance profits. More than 100 progressive leaders will risk arrest in protest of AHIP and Big Insurance. On one side, the comfortable representatives of a parasitic industry in a plush hotel. On the other side, a large and diverse coalition of workers and activists who have less and less to lose. If you're in town, stop by and pick a side.

Update--11:22pm: About picking a side... Come to think of it, if you pick Big Insurance, you will probably get tazed trying to get into the hotel. That should make the choice easier.

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