From TPM Reader DW …
I work for a major health care reform advocacy organization that has spent the much of the last two years planning for the next 200 days. The fight for comprehensive reform has been long and hard, to little positive result. But we felt really, really good about it all summer long, especially (though we weren’t not allowed to say it publicly) in the case of an Obama win.
The financial crisis changed everything, obviously. In our weekly meetings to plan for the transition, the immediate reaction from our more well-connected consultants was that comprehensive reform was off the table entirely, and the new president and Congress would be forced to opt for a piecemeal approach over the first six to ten months of the administration would start with an emergency increase in FMAP, the federal matching program for Medicaid, since state budgets have mostly evaporated. An SCHIP expansion would follow soon after, and potential courses of action then branched out into Part D-tweaking, health IT, and possibly incremental increases to Medicaid.
A couple things have changed since then, however. Baucus’ bill is a step in the right direction, Obama has seemed to signal that he isn’t afraid to spend aggressively in a recession if it helps the economy. (In a series of strategy sessions we had this week, we discussed the challenge of convincing the public that additional spending is justified when they see a trillion dollar deficit on the evening news. Democrats and prgoressives should hammer home that meme as much as possible: spending is necessary in a recession, even in deficit; it helps jumpstart the economy.
It’s going to come down to a whip count in the Senate. If Baucus’ bill has legs, they should move on it quickly, before the honeymoon is over and Senate Republicans have the balls to use a filibuster.