Squabbling Democrats Prepare To Move Ahead On Health Bills Without GOP
The New York Times: "Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority's cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks. Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans' purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month's Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair."
"The Democratic shift may not make producing a final bill much easier. The party must still reconcile the views of moderate and conservative Democrats worried about the cost and scope of the legislation with those of more liberal lawmakers determined to win a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurers."
Sen. Chuck Grassley. R-Iowa, "said this week that he would vote against a bill unless it had wide support from Republicans, even if it included all the provisions he wanted. 'I am negotiating for Republicans,' he told MSNBC" (Hulse and Zeleny, 8/18).
The Associated Press: "For liberals supporting far-reaching changes to the nation's health care system, (Grassley's recent comments were) another sign that months of negotiations have been a one-way street. It's time to move on without Republicans, they say. "
"On Tuesday, liberals were fuming over Obama's recent remarks suggesting he might also yield on the federally run insurance option he's been promoting. Many saw it as a huge concession that could leave them with nothing more than watered-down insurance cooperatives" (Babington and Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/19).
Moderate freshmen Democrats are torn between trying to retain their seats and pressure from the liberal party members, The Associated Press reports in a second story: "In the House, the freshmen bloc has the ear of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Conservative Democrats delayed the health care bill for days as tenderfoots such as Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus asked for time to study the proposals, and Pelosi eased away from a tax surcharge on the wealthy at the request of others. At times, the freshmen have joined as a team. Nine freshmen senators sent a letter of support last month to Sen. Max Baucus, head of the finance committee, expressing concerns about spending on the health care bill."
"Of course, challenging the party's leadership and some of the more liberal ideas comes at a cost. Activist groups such as MoveOn.org have publicly denounced skeptical Democratic lawmakers, running ads or threatening to do so against the likes of (North Carolina Sen. Kay) Hagan, who wrested a seat from Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole - a seat that had been in GOP control since arch conservative Jesse Helms started there in 1973" (Baker and Lewis, 8/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.