March 21, 2010
"When a problem comes along you must whip it"

The House Democratic leadership are predicting that the Obamacare bills will pass this afternoon.

Meanwhile The Hill is continually updating its "Whip Count" page with the anticipated votes of House Democrats. According to The Hill:

If every member votes and all GOP lawmakers vote no, the maximum number of Democratic defections to pass a bill is 37, which would result in a 216-215 tally.
UPDATE: As of 3:17 p.m. EDT today, after the Stu-packers capitulated:

35 Firm No, Leaning No, Likely No
and
4 Undecided / Unclear

Since yesterday afternoon most of the Undecided / Unclear have been trending into the Yes column.

UPDATE: as 6:39PM EDT, The Hill concludes that the Democrats have the votes.

Brian Baird announced YES today. I doubt that will make it easier for the Democrats to hold the seat this fall.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at March 21, 2010 10:25 AM | Email This
Comments
1. The undecided are just waiting for the bribe pot to sweeten.

Posted by: Vince on March 21, 2010 11:22 AM
2. Let'em pass the dang bill. If it's bad, we'll repeal it in a few years and go back to what we have now. No biggie!

Posted by: Politically Incorrect on March 21, 2010 12:21 PM
3. If Obama Death Care should pass...No Democrat who voted for it should feel SAFE!

Posted by: Daniel on March 21, 2010 12:24 PM
4. Safe from what, Danial?

Posted by: Joe Wisconsin on March 21, 2010 02:51 PM
5. Retribution...Joe.

Posted by: Daniel on March 21, 2010 03:31 PM
6. Retribution? Are you going to assassinate people, Daniel?

Posted by: John Jensen on March 21, 2010 04:49 PM
7. John Jensen: Please do stop trying to incite violence. Daniel is, of course, referring to retribution carried out at the polls, and, in extreme cases, when those representatives who voted for this abomination of a health care bill actually have to use it, which we all know will never happen since they exempted themselves from it. Telling, isn't it?

Posted by: Katomar on March 21, 2010 05:04 PM
8. "Politically Incorrect"....Great idea, except it's virtually impossible to repeal entitlement programs.

Posted by: Kevin on March 21, 2010 05:25 PM
9. Well, we're still not Canada or western Europe, but it's a good start. And yes, repealing a program that will prevent insurance companies from simply canceling coverage for sick policyholders will be very, very difficult for some reason.

Thanks, Dr. McDermott, and please continue moving us toward single-payer. It's why we keep returning you to office, after all.

Posted by: tensor on March 21, 2010 05:39 PM
10. @7 Katomar on March 21, 2010 05:04 PM,

But, of course, Congress is not exempted, and yet some continue to say that Congress is. Telling, isn't it?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 21, 2010 05:43 PM
11. we all know will never happen since they exempted themselves from it. Telling, isn't it?

That's not true. This is in the bill that's going to pass:

H.R. 3590: D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE.— (i) REQUIREMENT.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are— (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/congress-exempt-from-health-bill/

The fear-mongering and spin is telling.

Posted by: John Jensen on March 21, 2010 05:45 PM
12. JJ and MBS: All right, exempt is not the right word. You would agree, I am sure, that we are headed for single payer healthcare if things go according to liberal plans, right? In fact, I am sure that is exactly what you are hoping for. Our legislators have been asked numerous times to pledge that they will forsake their Cadillac plans and participate in the healthcare that will recommended and mandated for each of us peons. No takers to date. I would call that, in effect, exempting themselves. Of course, they are our elite rulers and can do that.

Posted by: katomar on March 21, 2010 06:38 PM
13. @12 katomar on March 21, 2010 06:38 PM,

"You would agree, I am sure, that we are headed for single payer healthcare if things go according to liberal plans, right?"

Well, probably it would be better if we could all agree with what Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said on the House floor today about passing health care reform, Democrats "will finally lay the cornerstone of their Socialist utopia on the backs of the American people."

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on March 21, 2010 07:14 PM
14. You would agree, I am sure, that we are headed for single payer healthcare if things go according to liberal plans, right? In fact, I am sure that is exactly what you are hoping for.

Liberal plans? Like there's one set of working documents we all read? That's like saying Medicare will disappear under conservative plans -- just a simple straw man, not a real argument.

First of all, who cares what our master plans are? The bill can be judged on its own merits: it has no expansion of Medicare; it doesn't have a public option; it relies on private insurers, private doctors, and private hospitals to deliver care.

Second, if you're going to guess our master plans, why not evaluate your party's master plans? To obstruct health care reform in an attempt to make President Obama look like an ineffectual leader, and pick up seats in the mid-terms.

Third, if anything this bill cements a future without single-payer. We're following the model of Massachusetts, the Dutch, and the Swedes: private insurance providing universal coverage. It would be a harder lift to go from this model, if it works successfully, to a single-payer system.

Single-payer has some benefits but it also has some problems. I doubt we'll ever get a single-payer system for anyone under 55 in America, and I don't tend to spend much effort or energy on things that are impossible. So my main interest is reforms that end the employer-based health care system by encouraging individual choice. Individuals purchasing their own insurance will naturally bring down costs, and I think that's where the future lies.

Our legislators have been asked numerous times to pledge that they will forsake their Cadillac plans and participate in the healthcare that will recommended and mandated for each of us peons.

Legislators currently get the same coverage as all other federal employees. After 2014, they'll get the same coverage as Americans on the exchange.

You miss the point when you try to make this about "elites in Congress" versus the rest of the country. The point is that many million Americans have absolutely no insurance now. This isn't about resenting elites; this is about a moral imperative.

The roll call is happening now. Historic.

Posted by: John Jensen on March 21, 2010 07:32 PM
15. This is going to be a real mess we may not be able to easily undo. However, ther is always the pink slips to do some damage control!!And weather the trolls realize this or not their healthcare $ go up as well.

Posted by: Laurie on March 21, 2010 07:37 PM
16. This is why we should have won in 2008. Voting for libertarians only elects democrats. Wake up, conservatives.

Posted by: Matt M on March 21, 2010 07:49 PM
17. H.R. 3590: D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE.— (i) REQUIREMENT.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are— (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).

Posted by: John Jensen on March 21, 2010 08:02 PM
18. And weather the trolls realize this or not their healthcare $ go up as well.

That would actually be a huge, if negative, accomplishment, because citizens of no other industrial democracy currently pay more money, per-capita, to receive less healthcare that do we. (U.S.A.!! We're number one!!1!) I don't see this limited bill having that large of an effect, but it is a good start.

Plus, I'm one of the lucky ones: my union-represented position provides benefits most Americans will still not get from private health care insurers. Even if my healthcare costs do rise a small amount, that's a deal I can live with; some of us Americans might not survive without it.

Posted by: tensor on March 21, 2010 08:06 PM
19. "That would actually be a huge, if negative, accomplishment, because citizens of no other industrial democracy currently pay more money, per-capita, to receive less healthcare that do we. (U.S.A.!! We're number one!!1!)"

Another big LIE. We do pay more but receive more than most other nations. You would be closer to truthful if you are speaking of the current bill that passed because this will cost more than before, spread it out over more people, but individually we will receive less.

Posted by: KDS on March 21, 2010 09:23 PM
20. You know, my friend just had his hot water heater burst, and now he's got a few thousand dollars of water damage in his basement. I wonder if the liberal dolts here would support his being able to now purchase a lower deduction on his homeowner's insurance to retroactively fix the water damage?

And for John Jensen, this bill conclusively RAISES the deficit, as the CBO recently stated. You said you would not support any bill that raised the deficit, and that Obama would not sign such a bill.

What a surprise you're both proven conclusively to be liars. Again.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 22, 2010 12:05 AM
21. And for John Jensen, this bill conclusively RAISES the deficit, as the CBO recently stated.

You're making things up. The CBO estimates the bill will reduce the deficit. Go to cbo.gov, moron.

Posted by: John Jensen on March 22, 2010 11:20 AM
22. #20 - We know that it really does increase the deficit. JJ feels the need to call names when he is exposed as a propagandist. It is evident to anyone else that he is a liar if he wants to convince us it lowers the deficit on paper. Paul Ryan has dissected the actual costs and also received a correction back from CBO that contradicts his claim.

Anyone who has kept up on this that the Doc Fix of $208 Billion makes this increase the deficit by $59 Billion. To not include this as part of the bill is dishonest.

Another factoid, the original estimates of Medicare shows the actual cost to be 9.7 times greater than originally estimate. It probably won't exceed the estimated cost by that much, probably only 5-6 times the original estimate, including the doc fix (I didn't even include the double counting that was disregarded, which is only $522 billion..)

Posted by: KDS on March 22, 2010 12:05 PM
23. correction...
Anyone who has kept up on this knows that the Doc Fix of $208 Billion makes this increase the deficit by $59 Billion. To not include this as part of the bill is dishonest.

Posted by: KDS on March 22, 2010 12:07 PM
24. @11: As it turns out, int he final version, so to speak, HR3590 applies only to congressional staffers, not legislators, who are free to choose the more elite, Cadillac coverage. During the amendment process a couple of R legislators proposed that "everyone" should receive the same health care coverage as legislators. Of course, this was voted down.

Posted by: katomar on March 22, 2010 12:25 PM
25. katomar, you're wrong: the bill was not changed. The House passed the Senate bill verbatim. If something was changed in Reconciliation, feel free to cite a source. You've already been proven wrong once on this issue; we shouldn't just be expected to trust your word. (I cited a source in response to you.)

KDS: Really? Liar, propagandist? Dan was simply wrong about what the CBO said. He called me a "liar" because he's a moron who can't get his sources straight.

Why is it that people who disagree with you are liars, KDS? You're turning into another pudge.

The CBO is the Congressional scorekeeper. They're nonpartisan and Congress relies on them routinely. You don't like the outcome because it doesn't suit your preconceived notions and it doesn't match your party's false rhetoric. I'm citing a nonpartisan source while you're citing nothing. I'm relying on figures, you're relying on your emotions. Whose argument is stronger?

The CBO did not exist when Medicare passed, so what are you trying to discredit? Numbers? On the other hand, the CBO did exist when Medicare Part D passed and it overestimated the cost of the bill. CBO did not change a single number or position in response to Paul Ryan; he found no errors in the CBO estimate.

CBO.gov says the bill reduces the deficit in the first ten years by about $140 billion and in the next ten years by about $1,200 billion. Any claim to the contrary, like Shanghai Dan made, is wrong. The CBO makes its numbers publicly available -- why are we even disputing publicly available numbers? Dan should stop saying things that are provably wrong.

The "doc fix" has nothing to do with health care reform. It'd happen without health care reform, and it's going to happen with health care reform. President Bush signed the first doc fix into law -- was he supporting Obama's HCR overhaul?

Posted by: John Jensen on March 22, 2010 03:35 PM
26. "The "doc fix" has nothing to do with health care reform. It'd happen without health care reform, and it's going to happen with health care reform. President Bush signed the first doc fix into law -- was he supporting Obama's HCR overhaul?"

Persistant try, however I stand by my previous post. A $59 Billion deficit for the first 10 years - and that is a conservative amount. You whole premise doesnt' fly - your'e dishonest. It doesn't matter who signed the doc fix - it is a different one that Bush signed. The doc fix is part of this package. Paul Ryan and the CBO both disagree with you. You have probably already seen this anyway but refuse for whatever reason you have to let on.

The CBO did not exist when Medicare passed, so what are you trying to discredit? Numbers? On the other hand, the CBO did exist when Medicare Part D passed and it overestimated the cost of the bill.

WTF ? Never said it did. Those numbers were authentic. There was an original cost estimate for Medicare when it went into effect, obviously performed by another agency. Check other sources.

"CBO did not change a single number or position in response to Paul Ryan; he found no errors in the CBO estimate."

You are conflating what I wrote - I never stated that either. The only error Ryan found was on of omission. They omitted the Doc fix amount that Paul Ryan called to their attention, to which they responded in a letter that stated: "with the doc.fix, HCR will run a $59 Billion loss in the first 10 years."

That's like someone saying that the authentic Obama birth certificate has not been divulged, so therefore he wasn't born in Hawaii or Bush lied about WMD's in Iraq..

Posted by: KDS on March 22, 2010 05:16 PM
27. Those numbers were authentic. There was an original cost estimate for Medicare when it went into effect, obviously performed by another agency. Check other sources.

I guess I'll have to check other sources, because you're not providing any. Who cares if someone, particularly a political branch, got the cost of Medicare wrong? The nonpartisan CBO is the agency you're trying to discredit; they never estimated the cost of Medicare.

The doc fix is part of this package.

No, it's not. The "doc fix" is a fix for the GOP "Sustainable Growth Rate" policy that doesn't work. Doc fix bills have been passed by both Bush and Obama. A permanent "doc fix" is desired so we can cease doing stop-gap, annual fixes.

Bush didn't do it during his term because the doc fix costs about $250 bn over ten years. He didn't include the costs of the doc fix from in his annual budgets, just like he kept the wars off the books until Congress appropriated money.

Obama's policy has been to permanently fix the Medicare payment rates. He's had this policy since before the health care reform process started. The stimulus package, for example, included a one-year "doc fix."

The doc fix is not part of this bill. It would have passed separately, and it will pass separately. In fact, the doc fix is cheaper than it would have otherwise been with health care reform. You can find the memo on CBO.gov.

Paul Ryan and the CBO both disagree with you. ... They omitted the Doc fix amount that Paul Ryan called to their attention

The CBO never says that the "doc fix" is part of HCR. Ryan asked the CBO to evaluate what the cost of health care reform plus the doc fix would be; that's the only reason the CBO evaluated them together, because Ryan asked them to. Congressmen are allowed to ask the CBO for anything: Rep. Ryan could have asked for the CBO to see how much HCR plus the War in Afghanistan and unemployment insurance would cost.

If you're like me and don't want the doc fix bill to contribute to the deficit, ask your Congressman to vote for new revenues in line with PAYGO statues.

But let's say the doc fix does pass without new revenues, and you want to manipulate the math and say that it's tied to HCR as Rep. Ryan is doing. You're talking about $6 billion per year. We have an annual deficit of about a trillion -- $6 billion is a drop in the bucket. In this made-up calculus, we can give health insurance to 32 million new people for $6 billion per year (about $188 in deficit spending per year).

I don't want to accept your premise, though. Some Republicans are being purposefully obtuse and misleading on this: the "doc fix" has bipartisan support and is always going to pass no matter what. The only thing HCR has done for the doc fix is made it cheaper.

Look, this is another process argument being made because the GOP simply doesn't have a leg to stand on when it comes to policy. Americans support ending pre-existing conditions, they support their kids being able to be on their plans until they're 26 years old, they support expanded coverage, they support reducing health care costs, and they support expanded competition amongst insurance companies. The "doc fix" ain't gonna change the GOP's unpopular, losing policy positions.

Posted by: John Jensen on March 22, 2010 08:11 PM
28. John Jensen @ 25: Source:

http://news.yahoo.com/video/politics-15749652/18749653

Posted by: Katomar on March 22, 2010 08:16 PM
29. #28 Thanks for addressing Obamunism with their kryptonite called truth.

Posted by: KDS on March 22, 2010 09:18 PM
30. It's no shock that FOX News is wrong. The bill that passed clearly states that members of Congress must buy insurance from the health insurance exchange. The earlier FactCheck.org article refers to the exact same text, because the Senate bill was passed unmodified.

The follow-up bill contains no changes to this requirement. I trust the actual bill language (READ THE BILL!) and factcheck.org over a FOX News story that's dripping with resentment.

Posted by: John Jensen on March 22, 2010 09:30 PM
31. #30- Fox News was not wrong. You did not pay attention to all of what was said. The reporter stated that there is a health insurance exchange, for which staffers of elected officials must buy insurance from. He mentioned also that there is a parody tholugh, where Senators and Representatives will be able to continue to have their elite or if you will Cadillac Insurance plans - they could buy from health insurance exchange if they want, but will bet that many of them won't.

It seems like Fact check.com did not get the whole story right - the mainstream media needs to check their facts more carefully.
You are dripping with resentment toward Fox News.

Posted by: KDS on March 22, 2010 09:50 PM
32. KDS, I watched to the piece and know what the reporter said. This is an example where a cable news reporter is simply wrong. The bill language is easily accessible, why don't you just read it yourself? It's Section 1312 in plain text:

(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE�

(i) REQUIREMENT�Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are�

(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).

(ii) DEFINITIONS�In this section:

(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS�The term ��Member of Congress�� means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF�The term ��congressional staff�� means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.

Posted by: John Jensen on March 22, 2010 10:08 PM
33. Yes, I read it that part - again. Your posts are obnoxiously repetitous. However, the legal interpretation is different and you are unable to handle that. Unless you have read the entire 2700 pages of this bill, which you have not, there is evidently another portion of the bill that clarifies or attaches a condition to this and that is what the Fox News reporter was saying. I will trust his interpretation over yours or factcheck.org. Let's take a poll - SP readers; Which interpretation do you believe ?
1) JJ's or 2) Fox News ? (I'll wait for your assailment of the intelligence of SP readers next)

One other thing you left out is who will enforce this ? If you think the most corrupt administration in the 50 years will, you are gullible but more apparent is that you have reinforced your reputation as a pouty partisan hack.

Not only are you are a slick progressive/ regressive kool aid drinker, when you are shown to be wrong, you won't admit it not only here, but in your other posts.

Posted by: KDS on March 23, 2010 08:22 AM
34. This is the missing link I was talking about;
(sorry others for being verbose and repetitious in the name of passing along informative public domain info.)


Exempted From Obamacare: Senior Staff Who Wrote the Bill

by Ben Domenech

For as long as the political fight took over the past year, the abbreviated review process on the health care legislation currently pending on President Obama's desk is unquestionably going to result in some surprises -- as happens with any piece of mashed-up legislation -- both for the congressmen who voted for it and for the American people.

One such surprise is found on page 158 of the legislation, which appears to create a carveout for senior staff members in the leadership offices and on congressional committees, essentially exempting those senior Democrat staffers who wrote the bill from being forced to purchase health care plans in the same way as other Americans.

A major story during the course of the health care debate was whether members of Congress would commit to placing themselves in the same health care exchanges as average citizens, or whether they would hang on to their government plans -- that's why leadership chose to add this portion to the bill, serving as a guarantee that members would participate in the same health plans as the people. Here's the relevant text:

(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE-

(i) REQUIREMENT- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are-

(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).

But as with a lot of legislative matters, the devil is in the details -- or in this case, the definitions. As anyone who's worked on Capitol Hill knows, the personal office staff for a member is governed by different rules than those who work on committees and in the leadership offices. It appears from the way this language is written that those staffers NOT in personal offices, such as those working and paid under the committee structure (such as those working for Chairman Henry Waxman) or those working on leadership staff (such as those working for Speaker Nancy Pelosi) would be exempt from these requirements (emphasis added).

(ii) DEFINITIONS- In this section:

(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS- The term `Member of Congress' means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF- The term `congressional staff' means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.

According to the Congressional Research Service, this definition of staff will only apply to those staffers employed within a member's "personal office" -- meaning that it will absolutely not apply to committee staff members, and may not apply to leadership staff.

This problem was acknowledged earlier in the process -- last year, Senator Grassley tried to repair it, but he was rebuffed.

As Speaker Pelosi said a few weeks ago, it's only after this legislation is passed that we'll truly find out what's in it.

Posted by: KDS on March 23, 2010 09:00 AM
35. John,

Can a current Congress restrict or force specific votes and appropriations of future Congresses?

Answer that and you'll know the fallacy of "deficit reduction" that the CBO was forced to create (by the restrictions and demands that Congress imposed on them).

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 24, 2010 02:41 AM
36. KDS,

Did you notice at the link that John the Spinmeister Jensen posted there is a vote on the popularity of the bill? And it's 3 to 1 AGAINST the bill?

This Congress and this President care not what the general public want, it's only about consolidating and strengthening their grip on power.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on March 24, 2010 02:44 AM
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