Rahm Emanuel House

After days of negotiating, it appears a health-care deal has been reached by Blue Dog Democrats. Details are still emerging, but essentially it looks like the Blue Dogs sold out for about $100 Billion dollars in cuts from the plan. The deal would also ensure that whatever public option offered would not be forced upon anyone. This deal should allow the 7 Blue Dogs in the House Energy Committee to vote on the package to allow a full House vote. Wow, $100 Billion dollars from a $1 Trillion dollar plan, way to be fiscally conservative Blue Dogs.

Some of the details of the plan are emerging from the Wall Street Journal:

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that his committee will resume meetings on health-care legislation on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with conservative Democrats on the committee.

According to Waxman, the Energy and Commerce panel will hold a legislative session late Wednesday afternoon with the hope of approving the legislation by Friday. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., who has led health-care negotiations on behalf of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, confirmed that Waxman and Blue Dogs on the committee had arrived at a compromise.

“We have reached an agreement that will allow health-care reform to move forward,” Ross said.

Ross said that the overall cost of the bill had been reduced by $100 billion, and that a requirement in the bill that employers offer insurance coverage would exempt small businesses with payrolls of $500,000 or less.

Ross also said that a public health insurance option contained in the bill wouldn’t use payment rates based on Medicare, which the Blue Dogs had strongly opposed.

This could be a tactical blunder on behalf of the Democrats though, especially if part of the deal (as reported) is that the actual vote will not occur until after Labor Day. Ed Morrissey agrees with this.

If they’re right, this is a tremendously stupid move by Democrats. It gives the Republicans a fixed target for the next few weeks, with an ability to cite the actual legislation and pick it apart, while painting moderate Democrats as fools who haven’t bothered to read it. Having no final version of the bill would have allowed Democrats to dodge questions about it. This makes them stand on the bill for weeks without getting moved out of way. Call it political target practice, practically akin to shooting ducks in a barrel, for the GOP.

I think Ed offers one glimmer of hope, e.g. if we hammer some of these Blue Dogs enough over the break, they may come back and say they can’t vote for it. This gives the GOP some particulars that they can use to go after this plan. Specifically health-care rationing will still be a big topic, as will the cost. Yeah, $100 Billion was cut, thanks for nothing. The Blue Dogs want to convince you that this plan will be deficit neutral, which is, of course, a crock. Show me one single government program that is deficit neutral? Certainly Medicare and Social Security are not shining examples of budget neutral programs. This program is going to turn into Amtrack or the Post Office or any other government run program. Eventually most employers will just drop their insurance plans because health costs are such a drain on costs. They’ll push us all into the public “option” and then it will turn into a single-payer system. This fall seems to be the time to push the Blue Dogs and let them know that if they vote for this pile of garbage, we’ll hold them responsible. What are your thoughts on this health-care deal?