Health Care Reform: Delayed

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 23, 2009

A big win for the policymaking process, which should favor care and precision over haste in legislating. And a big loss for the President of the United States, and his majority in Congress:

It’s official. The Senate is giving up on moving comprehensive healthcare legislation this summer. It means that President Obama’s goal of getting to a vote by the August recess is now out of reach.

Thursday’s move to postpone Senate action on health reform capped a week of harsh words across party lines – partisan bickering that Mr. Obama referenced in a prime-time press conference Wednesday night and again at a town hall meeting in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Thursday.

But with Democrats controlling both the House and Senate, the voices that counted most are the opposition voices from within Democratic ranks – especially lawmakers from conservative districts that gave Democrats their majority.

Nine freshmen Democrats, many from conservative-leaning swing states, called on the Senate Finance Committee this week to keep working on a bipartisan solution.

“In the face of exploding debt and deficits, however, we are concerned that too little focus has been given to the need for cost containment,” they wrote.

On the House side, fiscal conservatives are blocking progress toward a final bill until their concerns are met over how to pay for reform, without creating massive, long-term federal deficits.

“The Republicans are a problem because they are the president’s most vocal critics, but he can’t get around the fact that this is a Democratic Congress and he has a filibuster-proof Senate – and he wasn’t able to meet his deadline,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey.

“There are fundamental differences over some huge issues within the Democratic caucus,” he adds. “Come fall, the Democratic Party will have had to come to a consensus over this. If not, the legislation won’t pass.”

Let that last part be repeated: The failure to meet the August deadline did not occur because of Republicans. It occurred because of Democrats.

Again, this was the best development that could have been hoped for at this stage, given the undue haste with which Congress and the President were trying to craft a reform package, but anymore such political failures, and people will conclude that this President and the Democrats in Congress simply cannot govern. And well they should.

  • HSR0601

    Poll Still Finds Public Support for Health-Care Reform: While a majority of Americans still think health-care reform is needed now, some of that support has wavered slightly as Congress wrestles with the details of producing a reform package, according to the July Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Fifty-six percent of Americans continue to believe that health reform is more important than ever, despite the country's economic problems. And by a better than two-to-one margin (51 percent to 23 percent), Americans think the country would be better off if Congress and President Barack Obama enacted health reform, the poll found.
    Aside from the savings created by the prevention and wellness program, medical IT, foreseeable potential stem cell effect, mental stress relief and massive job creation, ending subsidies for the private insurers (on reducing ER visits) and payment reform and so on could be enough to meet the goal of deficit-neutral.
    Public school, public insurance policy, and public clean energy act are the natural parts of life in the free nations.

    Thank You !

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