Delay, Delay, Delay
When Jim DeMint is pleased about anything you've done in Congress, look out country. That's the effect of Harry Reid's statement today, putting off a final vote on a health care bill until after the August recess. In addition to this being potentially bad for the policy, although I'm not convinced of that, the politics are terrible, as Ezra Klein noted in a WaPo chat today.
Point Pleasant, NJ: So what are the odds of getting health care reform out of the House and Senate by the August recess? And will they postpone the recess until it gets done?
Ezra Klein: Out of the House? Quite high. Out of the Senate? That's where things get trickier. And I think that's a real shame. The problem here, incidentally, is not the date but the recess. Right now, all the committees are working, talking, in the groove on this. To take a month off when they're nearing the finish line? It's nuts.
I don't think the odds in the House are particularly high unless the Senate Finance Committee releases its bill soon.
The President has the ability to focus attention on this. Today in Cleveland, he said in reaction to Reid's call for delay, "That's okay. I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working." The crowd cheered. And if that can be translated into a call to stop the recess and continue to work toward a solution, that would be great. An Administration aide told CNN today that "Reid's announcement does not change Obama's timetable, with the president still wanting House and Senate votes before the upcoming recess." The only way to do that is with no recess.
It makes no sense politically to leave town and slow momentum on this bill. It plays right into the hands of the obstructionists.