Monday, October 5, 2009

The Delicate Dance of Reform

Health reform is definitely in the Red Zone, but it looks like the administration may be willing to settle for a field goal. The White House has avoided insisting completely on the so-called "public option." I think the strategy is going to be to expand this in a conference committee when they reconcile the House and Senate versions. The President refers to legislation that provides "choice and competition," without explicitly ruling out any specific options.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) of Arkansas is locked in a tough reelection race and may find it difficult to support any plan with a government run otpion. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D) of West Virginia, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon are still on the fence and need to be brought into the fold (I am sure they can be convinced with the right promises made). But the real key lies with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine. WIthout her the bill will be viewed as purely partisan and this woul lose support of Blue Dogs who need some political cover for 2010. If the bill makes it out of the Senate Finance Committee without Snowe and Lincoln it will make it all the harder to get the rest of the moderates on board.

The Senate Finance Committee will not vote until after the CBO scores the bill later this week. This week is the biggest week in health reform in history!