Obama Demands Staff Go Cocoon Themselves

Obama Demands Staff Go Cocoon Themselves

Obama Demands Staff Go Cocoon Themselves

A mostly political weblog.
Nov. 24 2009 8:46 PM

Obama Demands Staff Go Cocoon Themselves

According to Politico 's Mike Allen , President Obama made Ron Brownstein's non-naive-but-still-cheerleaderish party-line Orszagist praise for the Reid bill's cost-curve-bending "mandatory reading for all senior staff." TPM says Rahm Emanuel gave the homework assignment ...

1) Do they really believe in curve-bending, or do they just want us to think they really believe? Certainly the latter. But judging from Obama's earnest, respectable early David Leonhardt interview --where he easily equated curve-bending with denying grannies hip replacements--he really believes. Yikes.


2) Note that the best even the enthusiastic Brownstein can muster are sensible quotes from Robert Reischauer saying, in effect, "Hey, some of these ideas might work'. Take that to the bank! ... 

3) Are these people in a cocoon? Wouldn't Obama would want to assign articles that didn't reinforce his pre-existing world view? That maybe raised plausible criticisms? You have to wonder if the reason the White House didn't delay the recent  incendiary mammogram-cutback report was because they thought it would actually help them? 

4) Is it a coincidence that ever since press secretary Gibbs announced a renewed emphasis on Orszag's "curve-bending" in early November support for health care reform has plunged downwards on an increasingly alarming slope ? That's one curve they've bent! ... The pattern seems clear: They talk about curve-bending (in the spring) they get into trouble. They stop talking about curve-bending (in September), and health care is suddenly a fait accompli! They start again, and they're in trouble again. ... What was that about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

P.S.: At least Brownstein, unlike Ezra Klein or the first rough draft of kausfiles , got the basic mechanism of the "Independent Medicare Advisory Board" right. Except he didn't. Brownstein writes that the

board would be required to offer cost-saving proposals when Medicare spending rises too fast; Congress could not reject its proposals without substituting equivalent savings.

No. Congress could reject its proposals without substituting equivalent savings anytime it wanted to (and could obtain the President's approval or override his veto). The Reid bill simply says Congress would have to substitute equivalent savings if it wanted to use a 'fast track' filibuster proof legislative pathway it sets up (a pathway that still allows a presidential veto). Future Congress' don't have to use that fast-track and no law Congress passes this year can make them, as far as I can see.. ...


P.P.S.: Brownstein does unearth what seems to be a second Broder-shaking delegation of sweeping rule-making power by Reid:

[I]n a little known provision, the bill authorizes the HHS Secretary to implement nationwide, without any congressional action , any reform that department actuaries certify will reduce long-term spending [E.A.]

Wow. So we've got the independent Medicare board slashing spending, subject to a formalized Congressional meddling process, and we've got the Secretary of HHS slashing spending, subject to ... any check at all?  ...What if the recommendations conflict? ... I smell a new Czar! ...

P.P.P.S.: Do we really think the "IMAB" board and a grant of equivalent power to HHS will survive in the final bill? Will Congressmen really give up their power over sensitive issues like ... mammograms ... and let bureaucrats deny popular Medicare treatments to their constituents? If they don't--and if they strip or water down the provisions-- will Obama regret having made independent, expert "curve bending" seem like such an essential part of his health bill? ... Or is the purpose of making a fuss about Brownsteinian reforms just to get the bill over the hump in the Senate? ... 6:27 P.M.