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Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Support’

Obama Flip Flops, OK’s “Unpopular Deal-Sweetening Measures” To Buy Obamacare Votes

Monday, March 15th, 2010

President Barack Obama Flip Flopped on the backroom, special interest deals in Obamacare, now allowing them to remain in the legislation in the hopes of buying Congressional votes and toasting the passage of Obamacare within a week

President Barack Obama has flip flopped today, embracing the kind of backroom deals he campaigned against in 2008 and even recently condemned in the Senate health care package, as he heads to Ohio to begin the final push to gain passage of his massive comprehensive health care reform plan known as Obamacare.  The fact that Obama has decided to accept these unpopular, backroom special interest deals at this critical moment regarding the signature initiative of his Presidency could come to define the Obama brand for years to come.  Indeed, Specific pork in the Obamacare package intended to purchase votes, such as those of Dem. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Dem. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CN) and Dem. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), will now remain in the final Obamacare package to be voted upon by the House of Representatives this week:

WASHINGTON – Still seeking votes for his proposed health care overhaul, President Barack Obama appears ready to reverse his position and allow unpopular deal-sweetening measures in the hopes of finding Democratic support for legislation whose future will be decided in coming days.

Taking a new position, Axelrod said the White House only objects to state-specific arrangements, such as an increase in Medicaid funding for Nebraska, ridiculed as the “Cornhusker Kickback.” That’s being cut, but provisions that could affect more than one state are OK, Axelrod said.

That means deals sought by senators from Montana and Connecticut would be fine — even though Gibbs last week singled them out as items Obama wanted removed. There was resistance, however, from two committee chairman, Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and the White House has apparently backed down.

It appears that the claims of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs regarding the need to remove the special pork-laden deals for individual Democratic senators were designed solely to win a news cycle from the compliant establishment media, not actually improve the Obamacare legislation by removing such backroom deals. At the end of the day, the only change to the 100′s of pages of special interest pork in Obamacare to be made is the extension of the special Medicare deal for Nebraska, known as the “Cornhusker Kickback”, to all states, which, of course, will increase the amount of federal deficit spending that will result if Obamacare passes.

In Ohio, instead of focusing on the substance of the Obamacare legislation, or the special backroom deals he allegedly wants to remove from same, President Obama will focus on the individual story of Natoma Canfield and try to use that person’s misfortune to sell his policies to America:

Meanwhile, the White House tried to increase public pressure on Congress to pass the legislation. Obama planned to visit Strongsville, Ohio, home of cancer patient Natoma Canfield, who wrote the president she gave up her health insurance after it rose to $8,500 a year. Obama repeatedly has cited that letter from a self-employed cleaning worker who lives in the Cleveland suburb to illustrate the urgency of the massive overhaul.

Canfield’s sister, Connie Anderson, was scheduled to introduce Obama at that event.

This use of individual anecdote was the same strategy employed by Obama and the Democrats at the health care summit a few weeks ago, and the benefit of this strategy is to allow Obama to make an emotional appeal without focusing too much on the quite ugly realities of the legislative language itself (such as the payoffs to Baucus and Dodd) and the even ugilier realities of the procedural trickery to be used by Democrats this week in the House (“Slaughter Solution”) and the Senate (reconciliation).

Politico confirmed just now that the “Slaughter Solution” is now being pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for use on the Obamacare package to allow the House to “deem” the bill passed without actually voting on it:

The so-called solution, named for House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), would “deem” the Senate bill passed if House Democrats approve a package of fixes.

In other words, House members wouldn’t have to formally cast a vote on a bill that most of them don’t want to defend on the campaign trail — but it would pass anyway.

The speaker told her rank and file Friday that the decision was still up in the air but she thought this was the way most of her members wanted to handle the Senate bill.

The Newsweek article by David Stone from Friday, March 12, 2010 which strongly condemned any move to use the “Slaughter Solution”, excerpted by CentristNet here, has now been pulled from Newsweek’s site, clearly indicating that the establishment media is circling the wagons and set to push the “Slaughter Solution” over the finish line. Indeed, the talking points released by Democrats on Friday refer to such issues as the arguably unconstitutional “Slaughter Solution” and the use of reconciliation in the Senate as “inside baseball” and not worthy of discussion with the public. Considering Obama is starting the week by flip flopping on the sweetheart, backroom deals in Obamacare, whether the public catches on to the unprecedented procedural trickery planned in the House and Senate could determine the fate of the bill.

UPDATE: Ed at Hotair points out that the Democrats have now unveiled their 2300 page “Shell bill”, a copy of which can be found here, to start the process of the “Slaughter Solution”:

According to Heritage and Philip Klein, this is a shell bill, not the actual proposed reconciliation bill. It’s a copy of the version from last autumn. Later this week, the House will gut this version and replace it with their new ObamaCare fixes. However, the student loan nationalization will remain in the bill, so it’s not entirely old hat.

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Obama Reconciliation Strategy Rallies Moderate Democrats

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Democratic Senators are Rallying Around Obama's Health Plan and the Use of the Reconciliation Process

In the wake of the release of the 11 page Obama Health Plan, which clearly envisions the use of the parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation, moderate Democratic Senators who are on record opposing the use of reconciliation for Obamacare are now reversing themselves. Senators Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Ben Nelson (D-Ne.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who all previously stated their opposition to the reconciliation procedure, are signaling that their opposition to reconciliation is now waning. Additionally, some House Democrats who previously opposed the Senate bill are also softening their opposition. Both House and Senate Democrats appear both impressed by Obama’s release of his own plan as well as accepting the Obama Administration’s argument that a bad bill is better than no bill for Democratic electoral prospects in November 2010. Obama’s strategy to paint the GOP as obstructionists is also helping garner Democratic support for the use of reconciliation. Indeed, as Thursday’s health care summit approaches, the continual White House assertions of GOP intransigence on health care appear to be paying off by providing moderate Democrats political cover to abandon their prior anti-reconciliation stances.

Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown reports:

An idea that seemed toxic only weeks ago — using a parliamentary tactic to ram health reform through the Senate — is gaining acceptance among moderate Democrats who have resisted the strategy but now say GOP opposition may force their hands.

The implications of the subtle shift among this small group of centrist senators could mean the difference between success and failure for health care reform — giving Democrats a potential road map for passing a bill that had been left for dead after the Massachusetts Senate defeat.

That mood in the Senate was matched Tuesday by a growing momentum for President Barack Obama’s health care proposal in the House, where Democrats were beginning to coalesce around the view that passing a flawed bill is better than passing none at all.

These shifts couldn’t come at a better time for Obama ahead of Thursday’s health care summit. The White House has signaled he’s prepared to use reconciliation, which would require just 51 votes to pass health reform.

The comments also seemed to reflect the early soundings of a Democratic strategy for selling the public on the tactic, especially if no Republicans sign on to Obama’s plan after the summit: The GOP made us do it.

“Obviously, if the minority is just frustrating the process, that argues for taking steps to get the public’s business done,” said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who was one of the leading voices against the procedure after the Massachusetts election, calling it “very ill-advised.”

“At the same time … Republicans would probably shut the place down, but you could argue they are doing that anyway,” Bayh said.

Bayh’s remarks Tuesday came a day after Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) cited Republican obstructionism as a reason why she could embrace the parliamentary maneuver to pass health care reform. Last month, she said she was leaning against reconciliation.

“I’m staying open to see how these negotiations go forward,” Landrieu said. “I’ve not generally been a big supporter, but the Republican Party, the leadership, has really been very, very, very disingenuous in this process.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he doesn’t prefer reconciliation, but it may be the only way.

“I’d like to see as many votes as possible,” he said. “But at the end of the day, with the obstructionism going on at the level that it is, I’m more interested in what’s in the package than I am in the process of how many votes it takes to get it through.”

To be sure, the hints on reconciliation do not signal any kind of ironclad commitment. Democrats remain hesitant about using the procedure, fearful that Republicans will be successful in convincing voters that it is an end-run around the normal legislative process.

However, it is a mixed bag for Democrats in the past few days, as shown by Steny Hoyer’s comments earlier today that “[w]e may not be able to do” a comprehensive health care reform bill. Some moderate House Democrats also voiced disapproval with Obama’s new strategy, including Blue Dog leader Heath Shuler (D-Pa.) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.). Considering today’s shift of moderate Democratic Senators towards supporting Obama’s plan to use reconciliation, the tougher battle for Obama may now lie with finding 218 votes from the House of Representatives, especially as perhaps as many as 60 Democratic House members are facing defeat in November 2010. The Associated Press outlines the importance of Thursday’s summit and the uncertainty of House passage:

If Obama fails on a comprehensive health care overhaul where Bill Clinton and other presidents failed before him, the chance won’t come around again anytime soon.

The whole endeavor will now rise or fall on Obama’s ability to sell his plan at the summit Thursday, and the reaction from lawmakers and the public in the days ahead.

Some rank-and-file Democrats were openly skeptical that the White House and congressional leaders could pull it off. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., a moderate who opposed the health legislation when it passed the House, questioned whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi could hang on to the votes that allowed her to get the bill through 220-215 in November. Since then a couple of Democrats have left the House, and Pelosi may also lose votes from anti-abortion Democrats who oppose the less restrictive abortion language in the Senate bill, which Obama kept in his plan.

“Is she going to be able to hold everybody that was for it before?” Altmire asked. “What about the marginal members in the middle who got hammered over this vote and would love a second chance to perhaps go against it?”

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