Will the House Pass a Decent Health Care Plan?
I have to say that it looks very likely now that the House of Representatives is going to pass a health care plan in the next couple of weeks that includes a public option and pays for it entirely with cost savings and a progressive tax on individuals making over a quarter million dollars a year (or couples who make over $350,000). I didn't think that was going to be possible. Hell, I didn't even think it would be attempted. I have to give credit to Nancy Pelosi. She engineered Henry Waxman's coup, replacing John Dingell as chair of the Energy & Commerce Committe, and Waxman rammed home a Cap & Trade bill and worked out a compromise health care bill in a mere six months. Henry Waxman was a legendary legislator before this year, but he's headed for the Pantheon now.
Yet, before we celebrate, we still have to get these bills through the Senate and then we have to reconcile the House and Senate versions and pass them, too. It's the Senate Finance Committee that is the immediate problem. They aren't passing any progressive tax on the rich to pay for health care. And the Republicans will attempt a filibuster of both the health care and the energy bills.
Still, the House deserves its due. I looked up on the teevee at one point last night and saw four Californian liberals in the picture. Pete Stark chairs the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health, George Miller chairs the Education & Labor Committee, Henry Waxman chairs the Energy & Commerce Committee, and Pelosi put the pieces in place. She knew what she was doing and the California liberals banded together with Charlie Rangel of Harlem to get a package in place. Dingell and Hoyer will work with Obama to get enough Blue Dogs in line to pass the bill Obama campaigned on.
The final test will be getting the Senate to pass the conference report. Hopefully, they will do that without having to use the reconciliation process.