Obama's upcoming speech on healthcare

We sure know President Barack Obama is going to "prescriptive" in his speech next Wednesday before a joint session of Congress, since both Rahm Emanual and David Axelrod both used the catchy, medical-sounding adjective in their interviews with reporters promising that the president is finally stepping in for a final hands-on role in the politically unhealthy reform debate.
But will he be specific? And will he admit the inevitable — that a public plan won't pass the U.S. Senate, not because of Republicans but because it isn't supported there by members of his own party?


Obama addresses Congress

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President,

Thank you for inviting me to address this joint session of Congress.

I hope you all had a nice August break. I know I did. I had a chance to visit some great Americans out west, my kids got a chance to see Yellowstone, I got a chance to do some fishing and get some golf in at the Vineyard.

Sad about our colleague Ted Kennedy. He was a great American, and of course, without him, I wouldn’t be standing here today.

But I am pretty refreshed from my summer vacation, and now I am ready to start working on healthcare reform.

I know some of you had a chance to talk to the American people about our plan.

Or should I say your plan.


Katrina and the waves

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the noted left-winger, writes a provocative piece in The Nation where she makes the case that Democrats should use any means necessary to pass a healthcare bill.

Why I find this article fascinating is because she talks about how her father was a close friend of the Kennedys, and he sailed with Ted Kennedy all the time.

I wish I could have sailed with Ted Kennedy. I wish I could sail with anybody, but I don’t have the money. And that is why I get a kick out of this article.

Lieberman opens the door to Democratic retreat

Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) criticism of the Obama healthcare initiative may prove to be a pivotal turning point in the congressional debate over the increasingly unpopular proposal. Previous commentary about the Obama plans has focused exclusively on their impact on healthcare in America. The elderly are increasingly recognizing that, whatever its defenders say, extending coverage to 50 million new people — without any new doctors or nurses or equipment or hospitals — will create a scarcity that will lead to rationing, to the disadvantage of those over 65. Defenders of the free enterprise system have looked with alarm at the socialization of one-sixth of our economy and opponents of single-payer systems have argued that government control of healthcare is the inevitable result of the plan.

No thanks, Brent — neither side is a winner these days

Note: This post is a reply to the preceding post. —Ed.

Sorry, Brent, no wager this time.

I am not placing any bets on the Democrats or Republicans at this juncture, seeing the dismal job both parties have done finding remotely sensible, pragmatic, reasonable or constructive ways to fix our broken healthcare system.

This is a good opportunity to remind Brent — and all our readers — that I am in fact a neutral, non-partisan analyst at The Hill newspaper and am not taking any sides. I don't debate policy but I do debate political strategy, and right now the Democrats are losing — as Dick Cheney would say — big time.

My challenge to A.B. Stoddard

This site can use a little fun, so I challenge A.B. Stoddard to the following wager: I will bet A.B. that by Christmas Day the Gallup Poll will show congressional Democrats with at least an 8-point generic advantage over Republicans for the 2010 elections. If this happens, I win. If the generic advantage for Democrats is under 8 points, A.B. wins. The winner picks the restaurant and the loser picks up the tab.

Losing faith in Obama

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll confirms the trendlines: Americans are losing confidence and faith in President Obama and the healthcare reform debate has sealed the deal.

Seniors are feeling negative — and are "more than five times as likely to believe their care will deterioriate under projected modifications than to believe it will improve," according to the Post. The level of intensity on the issue is highest, no surprise, with opponents — they feel more strongly in their criticism than supporters do in their approval. A majority finds the protests "appropriate" and independents are flocking from Obama, with nearly 60 percent of them disapproving of his handling of healthcare and only 50 percent of them approving of his job performance.

Solving the Medicare payment structure riddle

The New England Journal of Medicine released a timely article yesterday, “Building a Bridge from Fragmentation to Accountability — The Prometheus Payment Model,” which attempts to solve perhaps the most vexing problem in healthcare: How do you change the payment structure in Medicare to better incentivize healthier outcomes, while reducing costs? The current fee-for-service structure in Medicare simply encourages more tests and procedures without the guarantee or evidence these steps are in the patient’s best interest.

The lion's roar: Ted Kennedy moves to save healthcare

Ignore what you read in the papers, watch on cable television, or are force-fed by many of the pundits who don’t know what is really happening. Here is the story: If Ted Kennedy votes on cloture, there is a high probability the Democrats have 60 votes. If Kennedy cannot vote, but resigns and is replaced by a new Democrat from Massachusetts, the Democrats probably have 60 votes.

Today the greatest senator who ever served performed one of the most valiant acts in the history of the Senate by asking Massachusetts to pass a law giving the governor the power to appoint his successor. This noble move will electrify and rally healthcare supporters across the nation and provide a gigantic booster shot to advocates of the public option.

The left of the left has left

President Obama, who was going to be a transformational, post-partisan leader who could cut through the bickering, has managed to suddenly create bipartisanship — Republicans and liberal Democrats are against him as he tries to explain whether or not he really will insist on a public option.

Liberals want the public plan, Republicans are leading opposition to it, and the fate of reform lies somewhere in the middle with centrist and conservative Democrats who have had their minds made up by angry voters at town halls.