The Big Question, June 23: Healthcare and climate change?

The Big Question for Tuesday, June 23:
Will Democrats be able to pass both of their two top priorities, healthcare and climate change legislation, by year’s end? Why or why not?

Read responses below from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Dean Baker, John Castellani, and Tom McClusky.

Read the last Big Question here.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said:
“Let’s talk about that. The climate-change proposal was roundly rejected in a bipartisan fashion because it would create a 618-something billion dollar cap-and-trade tax. And it is an approach nobody has ever taken before that would really hurt the consumer and American business. So their approach is not going to go anywhere, but we could get something along the Warner-Lieberman approach–[that] might get passed.

“On healthcare I think the one thing I can tell you is that the public, government option is not going to make it. That’s all I can tell you. I think there’s a lot of talk about different approaches but the government option will kill private-sector competition. I think that has met its demise. I hope.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), said:
You’ll recall that the leadership was [for] doing it before the August recess, and that is looking increasingly less likely. I think it depends on what the attitude of the democratic leadership is, and the White House. Do they want to do these things in a bipartisan way or do they want to just try to jam them? I think the extent to which they try to jam them in a partisan fashion makes it less likely things are going to get done in a partisan way.

I think there’ll be an effort to pass healthcare reform by the end of the year. I think we should, assuming it’s the right kind of reform. READ THE FULL RESPONSE HERE.


Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
said:
“My wife is a mind reader better than me, but  I would say that both are problematic because of the cost component and the divisions that I see on their side.”

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), said:
It’s an ambitious agenda. I think we have a chance of doing both, I think it’s hard to do both, but I think we have a chance. It’s like with healthcare. We have a problem in healthcare, the only to fix the problem is to try to fix it, and we’re trying. We have senators meeting around the clock now trying to work through the healthcare bill. They’re trying very, very hard to get something done. So when you have senators in here working together trying to get something done, you don’t have a guarantee you’re going to get a bill that will pass, but at least you’re making a really good effort. I think they’re making a good effort. I’m realistic about it, because I know how hard it is, but I think we have a shot for by the end of the year.


Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
said:
“I think I don’t know. I mean, I know I don’t know. Because it’s a matter of trying to get through a whole bunch of important things in terms of healthcare. It’s not just about what’s the mechanism to insure the people who are currently uninsured. You’ve got to also have the underlying reform of the delivery system. You’ve got to figure out the cost. Who pays and how much? So that’s a major challenge. If the stars align, perhaps it’s possible.

“Energy being the other one, well it seems things are moving along at least on the Senate side. It’s something that might be able to get bipartisan support. We’ll just have to see as more information comes out about what the bill consists of.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said:
“I don’t know. It’s too early to tell.”

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), said:
Unless they figure out how they’re going to pay for healthcare, unless they figure out a way of doing climate change that does not create an energy tax, then I think they are both in trouble.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said:
[laughing] “Time will tell.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said:
That’s our goal. We have the president’s support.



Dean Baker, co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
“The Democrats will pass both, the only question is whether the bills they end up passing will be worth anything.

President Obama has put his prestige on the line to push both health care reform and climate change legislation. However, he also has indicated a willingness to compromise to get bills through Congress.

Compromise is fine, but a health care plan without a serious public plan that constrain costs is a joke. Similiarly, a climate change bill with so many loopholes that it doesn’t reduce emissions is also a joke.

Unfortunately, both outcomes are real possibilities and more likely than the possibility that nothing passes Congress.”

John Castellani, President of the Business Roundtable, said:
Health care and climate change legislation aren’t just Democratic priorities, they’re national imperatives. As the CEOs of America’s leading companies, Business Roundtable members see firsthand the impact these two issues have on our nation’s workers and on our competitiveness in the world market. We must address them by year’s end. As providers of health care to nearly 35 million Americans, our members support comprehensive health care reform that reduces costs for workers and businesses, while making coverage more accessible. In terms of climate change, we know it is a direct threat to our planet and our current way of life and we are committed as business leaders to immediate action to limit GHG emissions and put us on a more sustainable path. Business Roundtable stands ready to work with policymakers from both sides of the aisle and the Administration to address these critical issues so that America’s citizens, communities and companies can prosper together.

Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President of FRC Action, said:
“Forecast cloudy - bad for taxpayer health”