Citizens of the blogosphere are twiddling their thumbs waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to release a final score of the Senate health overhaul bill, which many expect when Majority Leader Reid meets with the Democratic Caucus at 5 p.m. today. In the meantime, many can’t resist guessing the outcome.
Perhaps in preparation for today’s release, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and President Obama. Gingrich and his 50 cosigners ask the Democratic leaders to “slow down…open up…don’t break the bank.” Critical Condition’s Tevi Troy has the letter (pdf), saying “it’s worth a read.”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein says, contrary to claims from some Republicans that they will repeal a health reform bill if elected in 2012, “There’s just not much precedent for changes in partisan power ending in the repeal of large pieces of recently passed legislation. In part, that’s due to the nature of the Senate: Repeal requires 60 votes as surely as passage.”
Wonk Room’s Igor Volksy (who includes a shot of Reid praying) rounds up the latest rumors on how the Senate may rush to pass the bill:
Democrats are also indicating that they may “short-circuit the legislative process” to pass health care reform by December 18th, the last day Congress is in session. “The most talked about method is end running the formal conference committee process in favor of some sort of mini-conference. Democratic officials in the White House and Congress are envisioning an end game similar to the way the $787 billion stimulus package came together with congressional leaders and White House aides hashing out the differences behind closed doors.”
The New Republic’s Suzy Khimm reports on another piece of the soon-to-come bill. According to Khimm, “Amid all the concern about subsidy levels in health care reform comes word that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is, in fact, going to boost the financial assistance available to Americans buying health insurance. The problem? It’s not the group who needs help the most–and it may come at the expense of those who do.” Reid is expected to lower the maximum percent of income for middle-income earners and raises the percent of income spent on insurance for low-income earners.
Commentators on the right are likely to have their frustration piqued even more — Heritage’s Brian Darling explains objections to even beginning debate: ”The bottom line is that Senators will be voting to proceed to a bill on Friday that they have yet to see and will have little time to read before the first critical vote. Sadly, the secretive procedure used to roll out this legislation has severely restricted the rights of Americans to participate in this process.”
And in other news, Conservative columnist Ross Douthat uses his new blog on the New York Times’ site (where his column runs) to put in his two cents on the health bills: “That means that 10 years and hundreds of billions into health care reform, two-thirds of the uninsured will have coverage — but the remainder, 18 million strong, will be paying more and getting exactly nothing in return. We’ll be effectively taxing a third of the uninsured to cover the rest. Liberals, of course, will say this just proves that we just need to spend billions more on subsidies. But I say that it makes Tyler Cowen’s alternative approach seem vastly more attractive.”