In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama had two ways to make significant progress toward the platform for which Americans voted. One avenue involved cross-partisan legislative negotiations; the other involved a pure exercise of the partisan power of a 60-40 Senate majority. By the anniversary of his inauguration, both avenues seemed blockaded: the first by near-total Republican intransigence, the second because that intransigence led to delay and ugly wheeling and dealing with marginal Democrats on health care, which in turn led to a Democratic defeat in a Massachusetts special election and pulled the Democratic majority below the magic number of 60.
I've had a great time guest-blogging here at TAPPED, amid all the health-care and election madness last week. Many thanks again to the editors for bringing me on board -- and to the TAPPED readership for your attention. But our wonktastic journey doesn't have to end here. Visit me back at The New Republic, where I'll continue to be covering health care for The Treatment and politics for The Plank. And for those who tweet, you can always follow me here. Bye!
As Ezranoted earlier this week, much of the reason that American health care is so expensive is because we pay so much per-unit of care, whether it's a prescription or a CT scan. In order to insure health care remains affordable and that reform is sustainable in the long term, these costs need to be brought under control -- a point conservatives, to their credit, have repeatedly raised. Democrats have tried to address the issue by trying to extract savings and price-control measures from groups like the drug industry, given the federal government's buying power through entitlement programs like Medicare.
Should illegal immigrants be able to purchase private health insurance within the newly created federal exchanges if they use their own money? That question, as I noted yesterday, is one of the biggest sticking points in the fight about immigration in the health-care bill. The Senate supports such a prohibition, while the House hasn't done so. Spooked early this fall on by accusations that the bill would cover illegal immigrants -- e.g. Joe “You Lie!” Wilson -- the White House has made it clear that it prefers the Senate's prohibition. Congressional Democrats wary of looking soft on illegal immigrants have echoed such concerns: Rep.
Today the AARP and American Cancer Society endorsed the House health-care bill, with the American Medical Association expressing its positive (if qualified support). But amid this big news, a strong message of dissent was sent to the Senate side of things -- and it didn't come from Bachmann's tea-party spectacular on Capitol Hill.