Rangel: Healthcare bill faces "serious problem"; Weiner mocks Senate "kabuki dance"

Only 1 sentence on abortion (There's scads of trouble and they haven't even gotten to that issue yet?!), but this is still all good news... more wrenches in Obamacare's works.

Furthermore, a delayed timetable increases the likelihood Scott Brown would be in place to vote against the bill in the Senate, if he wins the MA race.

But Congressman Weiner, "kabuki"? Isn't that dangerously close to "macaca"?

From Roll Call last night, only available via subscription:

rangel.JPG

Health care negotiators are facing "a serious problem" in resolving their differences and are not likely to have a final bill until February, according to key House Democrats involved in ongoing talks.

"We've got a problem on both sides of the Capitol. A serious problem," Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said Tuesday evening....

The difficulty in hashing out an agreement between the 2 chambers is largely due to there being so many different factions with a stake in the matter, Rangel said. "Normally you're just dealing with the Senate and they talk about 60 votes and you listen to them and cave in, but this is entirely different," he said. "I'm telling you that never has 218 been so important to me in the House."

Another senior House Democrat familiar with negotiations on the bill said no progress has been made this week on any of the key sticking points in the House and Senate bills, despite steady meetings with union leaders and the White House.

"There's no agreement. No deal on anything. Nothing," the lawmaker said.

The reality, said this lawmaker, is that House-Senate negotiators will need to continue working out their differences into February. Congressional leaders have been aiming to deliver a final bill to President Barack Obama before his State of the Union address, which normally takes place in late January.

One of the biggest sticking points is how to pay for the bill; the Senate and the WH are pressing for a tax on high-cost "Cadillac" health insurance plans, whereas the House wants to raise taxes on wealthy people. Health care negotiators are "talking about some way we can... come up with a whole 3rd policy" that meets both proposals in the middle, said the Democratic lawmaker. But at this stage, those discussions are only happening at the staff level.

Rangel said Obama has insisted that the health care industry generate the revenues to pay for the bill, a method of financing that Rangel said he and other lawmakers don't feel as beholden to. "He has to feel comfortable in the recommendations that we have, but bending the curve is not on my paper. It's on the president's paper," Rangel said.

Discussion of the excise tax dominated the discussion at a Tuesday night meeting of the Democratic Caucus, according to Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), a leading critic of the approach. He said the levy "got pummeled." Out of "a couple dozen speakers" on the topic, he said only 1 voiced support for the Senate approach and one expressed a willingness to consider it.

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But others said the House-Senate divide on how to pay for the overhaul will be one of the easier differences to bridge. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said negotiators just need to "figure out a way that all sides can take it" by adjusting the threshold of who gets hit by the tax.

Anti-trust provisions regarding health insurance companies are also still unresolved. Senate negotiators have agreed to accept collusion and price-fixing restrictions on insurers, the lawmaker said, but House negotiators are still pushing for more. On the issue of how restrictive language will be on abortion services, "We haven't gotten to that yet," the senior lawmaker said.

With all of these issues at a standstill, tensions are growing between the 2 chambers. Several House lawmakers have voiced frustration with Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) over concessions and special deals they cut in the Senate version.

"The Senate is just a pain in the a** to everybody in the world as far as I can tell. I'm so angry that I just wish from now on that we'd just find out what it is that Lieberman and Nelson will let us have," the senior lawmaker said. "But we're not giving up on anything in the House."

"We keep hearing them squeal like pigs in the Senate that they had a tough time getting to 60," Weiner said. "Well, it wasn't particularly a picnic for us to get to 218. Generally speaking, the Senate kabuki dance has lost its magic on those of us in the House."

And Rangel lamented that throughout the health care debate, Republicans have repeatedly tried to derail the entire process.

"They have decided that working with us is not on their agenda.... It really takes away from so much of the enjoyment that people get in the House of Representatives. It's a sad era for our country," he said.

[HT: Connie; photo of Rangel via OpenSecrets.org; photo of Weiner via San Diego Jewish World]


Comments:

It's not really a health care bill. It's a government expansion bill. And who's going to pay this bill?

Posted by: Jon at January 13, 2010 11:09 AM


Agreed, Jon. Though I'd go a step further and say it's not a healthcare bill, it's a hostile takeover.

I'm still praying for a miracle -- that this thing will die and never pass.

Posted by: Jennifer at January 13, 2010 11:57 AM


Praying too.

Posted by: Janet at January 13, 2010 12:30 PM


Praying three:)

Posted by: Ed at January 13, 2010 3:09 PM


Praying four:

God is answering prayers when Rangel will even admit that this bill faces "serious problems".
Praise God Prolifers!! In my imagination I can hear Dr. Martin Luther King and his father in the background singing "We Shall Overcome". When I heard his niece Dr. Alveda King speak she talked about how her grandfather, Daddy King, told her when she told him she was about to abort her child (I am paraphrasing here) "That is not a blob inside of you but a baby, we don't kill our babies around here". Wow! The father of the greatest civil rights warrior of all time was prolife and did not want his grandchild murdered.

Keep the prayers coming.

Posted by: Prolifer L at January 13, 2010 3:53 PM


Jon -

You can find summaries of the bill all over the place - CBO has good cost estimates on it. This one actually saves taxpayers money, unlike the GOP medicare expansion passed under Bush.

Praying this passes and passes soon - too many families without health insurance, and too many families struggling with bills. Time to start turning the tide.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at January 13, 2010 5:28 PM


ex-GOP:
since the bill doesn't start providing benefits for 4 years, what's the hurry to pass the bill? Your concern for the people without insurance doesn't seem to make you lobby to change that provision.

"Saves money" what a joke! One slight of hand trick to get a favorable assessment from the CBO is to push costs onto states. Every state is hurting financially, in case you haven't heard so this is completely unrealistic. And of course, the 4 year delay on benefits is just to gather some taxes so the CBO analysis looks good. But what happens when benefits are going out? The "reserve" is only a short-term thing.

Of course if they want to save millions right off the bat, they can cut the funding of abortion...


-D

Posted by: Denise at January 13, 2010 5:59 PM


Denise -

The second decade has more savings than the first - about ten fold actually, so the "reserves" statement is actually flipped there.

I'm guessing that if the bill covered all these extra people day one, you'd blame everyone for "rushing into things" - so consider it a little victory for waiting.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at January 13, 2010 8:58 PM


I don't believe for a second that this bill saves money. I can maybe believe that EX-GOP Voter really believes that it will save money, but I don't believe that President Obama really believes that it will save money. The bill is all about putting the foot in the door for future socialism. The Democrats are not thinking about the good of America but the good of Democrats.

Ex-GOP Voter says that there are "too many families without health insurance, and too many families struggling with bills." However, (1) the present bill will not help. (2) The civil government has no business making decisions about my body. (3) You and your church are free to donate to needy families, but the state shouldn't compel me to pay for them. (4) This bill is a legislative disaster.

Ronald Reagan once said that civil government is like a baby. A baby is an alimentary canal with a ravenous appetite and lots of noise at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. However, George Washington said that government is not reason or eloquence but force. The government is dangerous, and the present government expansion bill must be aborted.

Posted by: Jon at January 14, 2010 5:31 AM


Jon -

Ha! Enjoyed the post.

I'll say that I can only trust the experts on this one, the CBO and other economists I've read, so maybe you are right - maybe the bill won't save money. I just can't say that I know the bill better than the experts who have studied it and come up with cost estimates.

If THIS bill is the bridge into socialism, I'm not quite sure what you thought of Bush's Medicare drug bill - I mean, that must have really made you throw a fit!

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at January 14, 2010 6:47 AM


I wasn't in favour of President Bush's big-government policies. Still, as as far as big government is concerned, President Obama is President Bush on steroids.

Posted by: Jon at January 15, 2010 12:23 AM