Eyeing Reconciliation For Health Reform, GOP Launches Preemptive Strike On Senate Parliamentarian
News outlets profile Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and the "everyday Americans" invited to a White House forum on health care last year.
"[W]hen it comes to the complex budgetary procedure known as reconciliation, the filibuster-proof process which Democrats hope to use to make certain fixes to the Senate bill, Frumin is 'the defense counsel, he's the prosecution, he's the judge, he's the jury and he's the hangman,' says Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the top Republican on the Budget Committee," Time reports on the man they call the "referee."
"Frumin, 63, is a graduate of Colgate University in upstate New York and Georgetown Law. He's worked for the parliamentarian's office since 1977, and starting four years after that, he and former parliamentarian Bob Dove have effectively rotated what must be one of the most thankless jobs on Capitol Hill. They kept switching off because various congressional leaders fired one or the other in frustration." But their "loyalty is above all to the institution, however imperfect" (Newton-Small, 3/3).
Politico: "Senate Republicans are waging a pre-emptive strike against the Senate's parliamentarian. ... In interviews with POLITICO, several Republican senators and aides cast [Frumin] - a 33-year veteran of the Senate - as someone who is predisposed to side with the Democrats if they attempt to use the reconciliation process to pass parts of their bill. ... Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says Frumin is 'an honest man,' but that 'Democrats will try to 'bully [Frumin] and try to get him to make a ruling he wouldn't ordinarily make.' But Democrats say the Republicans are the ones doing the bullying - and that they are simply trying to create the perception that the fix is in even before Frumin has ruled" (Raju, 3/3).
Kaiser Health News interviews Daschle on the pending health care overhaul bills and the strategy of a major overhaul: "Whether it's quality, access or costs you can look at all the numbers, they've dropped precipitously, and we've been able to demonstrate, if anything, out of these last 15 years that incremental reform doesn't work. We've tried incremental reform with SCHIP and with the passage of Part D and maybe portability, a couple things here and there. We've seen everything go south, and it's going to continue to do that until we put in place the corrective policy building blocks to address this more comprehensively." KHN has audio of the interview (3/2).
USA Today checks in with seven "everyday Americans" who attended health care forum at the White House one year ago. The attendees are "disillusioned by the impasse. Many blame what they see as Republicans' intransigence, but also the special deals Obama and Democratic congressional leaders made to win votes A year ago, the seven shared a common bond: They wanted to change the nation's health care system so much that they had agreed to host or participate in community discussions sought by Obama's presidential transition team in December 2008." Today, "[m]ost still side with Obama, their wrath focused on Republicans who, they say, have not been willing to work with the president" (Wolf, 3/2).