Negotiations: A ‘Frustrating Process’ As Lawmakers Elbow For Position During Recess
The Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" closed negotiations are frustrating for other lawmakers on Capitol Hill, The Christian Science Monitor reports and adds: "So, how do the other 529 members of Congress get to have a say in these closed yet critical deliberations? The same way they influence legislation - by working through outside interest groups with clout in the Congress to influence other members."
"That's how Senator (John) Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), ranked by seniority the No. 2 Democrat on the Senate Finance panel, but not one of the six, went public with his concerns about the Gang of 6 this week - and mobilized interest groups to raise concerns about how proposed reforms would affect children." Rockefeller mobilized interest groups on how reform would impact children, and by the end of the week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus of Montana was briefing colleagues on the issue (Chaddock, 8/8).
The New York Times on the congressional pushing and shoving over reform: "Those negotiations have proceeded tortuously all summer, with centrists on the Senate Finance Committee maneuvering around obstacles erected by the Democratic left, the Republican right and the White House. President Obama last week urged the committee members to keep going."
"Yet the rowdy start of the August Congressional recess has galvanized activists on both ends of the ideological spectrum. That makes it tougher for negotiators to stake out a middle ground - especially in conservative locales that Democratic centrists call home" (Harwood, 8/9).
ABC News reports that, late last week, the director of the Congressional Budget Office said preventative care will raise, not lower costs. "'Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall. That result may seem counterintuitive.'" CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a letter to the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Preventive care is a centerpiece of the Democratic cost savings plan (Tapper, 8/9).
The Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan reports that former Bush staffer Dana Perino is offering advice to Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., on her push to support or stand against reform in a typically-conservative-turned-blue district. "'And so for swing-district Democrats, the decision on this bill is difficult,' said Perino. 'If they voted for cap-and-trade and the ill-fated stimulus, this vote is even tougher, and their re-election will be in question from the sheer weight of the costs of these proposals.' Perino offers this advice to Markey as she listens to constituents during the August recess and prepares to cast a vote on health-care reform: 'She will need to follow her principles, weigh the proposals and listen to her constituents. And at the end of the day, she should cast her vote and then vigorously defend her position - or else 2010 will be a tough fight'" (Moore, 8/9).