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House Progressives Ready to Cry Uncle on HCR?

December 23rd, 2009, 12:12 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s beginning to look like the House is going to cave into Lieberman and Nelson, too. TPMDC:

House Democrats believe they will secure additional health care reform votes from Blue Dog Democrats thanks to the Senate’s more conservative version of the legislation. And despite deep misgivings, the House Democratic leadership expects to lose few if any progressive Democratic votes over the demise of the public option, paving the way to get a final bill to President Obama’s desk by Feb. 1….

Leadership aides say progressives are prepared to take it on the chin and will vote for a final bill without a public option. But they say pro-life Democrats will seek direction from the U.S. Conference of Bishops as to whether they can support an amendment weaker than Rep. Bart Stupak’s, thus setting up what will likely be the most difficult negotiation before a final vote….

Progressives will demand a good explanation from Senate colleagues on how choice and competition can be accomplished through their bill, another aide said.

“It would serve the House well to go another round on this, it’s important to send a message to our base and some of our progressive allies that we’re not just going to roll over on this,” the aide said.

In 2010 it will prove politically valuable to have picked the fight, even though progressives understand it won’t make the final compromise, the aide said. But it’s not clear what that fight will amount to beyond a lot of grousing for effect on TV, all with the knowledge that in the end they will have no choice but to give way.

And co-chair of the Progressive Caucus Raul Grijalva seals it.

In the inteview, Grijalva confirmed that House Dems were beginning to discuss the idea of revising the Senate bill in conference to move up the implementation date for insurance coverage and make it more in line with the earlier date in the House bill.

I asked Grijalva if he could support the bill if such a change were made, even if it lacked a public option or other similar concessions sought by liberals.

“It would sweeten it somewhat,” Grijalva said, “if they speed up the coverage mechanism.”

He added: “That would be something I’d have to look at very closely.”

Asked if he was suggesting that he’s open to supporting such an outcome, Grijalva answered in the affirmative, but insisted that he would have to evaluate the changes in conference before making any decision. He said House liberals would continue to push for a public component and a repeal of the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies. And he demanded that conference negotiations not merely “rubber stamp” the Senate bill.

Moving up implementation dates would help, and that appears to be a House leadership might use as a “key arguing point” in the upcoming conference.

Nixing the regressive “Chevy” tax on benefits would help. Using the more generous benefit levels the House sets would also help. But it’s seemingly less and less likely that House leadership will push for any of these more progressive efforts. Once again, the sternly worded letter crumples in the face of obstructionist ConservaDems.

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