Bloggers are back to scrutinizing strategy memos as congressional Democrats begin final negotiations to merge the House and Senate versions of their bills.
Heritage’s Marguerite Higgins looks at reports from the New Republic and TPM that some Democratic lawmakers are eying a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to ease restrictions for immigrants to purchase health insurance. Higgins says the potential agreement “follows a long list of other sweetheart arrangements that Reid and other members have worked out to keep on-the-fence Democrats in-step with passing Obamacare.”
But the New Republic’s Suzy Khimm reports: “The Congressional Hispanic Caucus today denied that they had struck such a bargain with the Democratic leadership, and one leading Hispanic Representative said that he had not yet been approached about the matter.”
In other deal news, The American Spectator’s Philip Klein that in the current negotiations, the Senate health care bill “is about to get more expensive.” His reasoning? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to find a way to ease the unhappiness in her caucus because of the loss of the government-run health plan, also called the public option. “Given that a handful of pro-life Democrats would bolt assuming the abortion language is watered down, she cannot afford any more defections among liberal members. That likely means increasing the amount of subsidies offered to individuals to purchase insurance on government exchanges, and perhaps having them start sooner — both of which would increase the cost of the legislation.”
Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky reports on one potential example of Klein’s prediction: some House Democrats are floating an idea to provide “start-up funds” to states for state-based public plans.
Meanwhile, TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro reports on House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s plan to defeat the health care bill in the House. He released a memo that targets 37 Democrats, saying, “By convincing just three House Members to switch their position and oppose this bill, we can halt this government take-over of our health care system.”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey thinks the strategy has merit, especially for House members uneasy about explaining votes to cut funding to Medicare Advantage programs and supporting a bill that relieves Nebraska of much of the new Medicaid funding while saddling other states with that expense: “I suspect that the elimination of the public option may be more of a hurdle with the House progressives than these — but Cantor’s signal to the NRCC will not go unnoticed. Any one of these Democrats voting to support a bill with these elements will have to answer these questions on the campaign trail, most likely with them being asked on TV spots flooding their districts. If these Democrats feel comfortable about voting for them, they won’t feel comfortable facing town-hall events and answering the questions live back home.”