Harry Reid or Casey Jones? According to Roll Call , Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is "sketching a process for railroading the [card check] bill through the floor as quickly as possible." And maybe not even the vaunted "compromise" card check bill, says Jennifer Rubin --she suggests some union leaders are holding out for allowing labor organizers to avoid secret ballots. ... Obviously this isn't legislation that holds up in public view for long, so the rush approach is strategically sound. But Reid sems like a deeply cynical operator. He apparently likes to engineer train wrecks . (Remember what happened to "comprehensive immigration reform"?) Is he really trying to ram this explosive bill through, or is he trying to demonstrate to labor that it can't be rammed through? ... I note that even Rubin, a congenitally optimistic they-don't-have-the votes card check foe, seems rattled. ... 1:54 P.M.
Old Comeback: "I'd rather waitress."
New Comeback: "I'd rather have a seat in the European Parliament ."
I'm sure the NYT has already assigned a top reporter to find out what Steve Rattner's old colleagues at Quadrangle think of him . Aren't you? ... 12:45 A.M.
Postrel 1, Orszag 0: As originally presented, OMB Director Peter Orszag's vaunted "game-changers" were cost-saving changes to the entire health care system. The implication--in Obama's big February Congressional Address ( and in Orszag's blog posts ) was that you couldn't get the game-changing changes unless you had "comprehensive health care reform," including expansion of coverage to offer "quality affordable health care to every America," According to Obama
[I]t's a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.
Along came Virginia Postrel, who noted in a blog post that if Orszag's changes were so great, why didn't he apply them to Medicare and Medicaid first ? Orszag was concerned and conscientious enough to phone Postrel to defend himself . But now, with Orszag and Obama having wholeheartedly embraced the IMAC plan to cut Medicare expenses in the long run, hasn't Postrel's suggestion won out? IMAC appears to be restricted to recommending changes in Medicare, not the entire health delivery system.
That, of course, is a tacit admission that controlling the federal budget deficit by cutting Medicare and expanding non-Medicare health coverage are two separate policy initiatives--and that Obama was dissembling when he said, in his address, that you had to do both parts at once "to bring our deficit down." It looks like you could have an IMAC panel to cut Medicare costs and shrink the deficit without any of the rest of Obama's "comprehensive" reform, including universal coverage. Or you could have the rest of Obama's reform without the IMAC panel.
The connection between the two appears to be entirely political, and conjectural--the idea that either you need IMAC as a way to get Blue Dog votes for expanded coverage, and that only by offering an extension of coverage can you get the senior lobby (AARP) to go along with Medicare changes . Like so many "comprehensive" reforms, it's not an interlocking web of mutually dependent policy mechanisms so much as an interest-group sandwich .
If all you had to do is appease the Blue Dogs and AARP, the strategy might be sound. The problem is that the IMAC "game changer" scares the daylights out of lots of people , and adds to the ballast of the whole package with the general public. ... 12:41 A.M.