Making Blue Dogs Blue
The Hill reports that the Speaker will respond to pressure from progressives and move the health care bill back to the left when she merges the competing measures from committee:
Speaker Pelosi is nixing a deal she cut with centrists to advance health reform, said a source familiar with negotiations.
Pelosi’s decision to abandon the agreement that was made with a group of Blue Dogs to get the bill out of committee would steer the healthcare legislation back to the left as she prepares for a floor vote.
Pelosi is planning to include a government-run public option in the House version of the healthcare bill. She wants to model it on Medicare, with providers getting reimbursed on a scale pegged to Medicare rates.
"The speaker is full-steam-ahead," said a senior Democratic aide.
Let's be clear who broke the agreement. The Blue Dogs and Waxman negotiated a deal to water down the public option but still include it in a final bill. Mike Ross came back from recess and said he could not support a public option whatsoever. At that point, the deal ended. And Ross, secure with his payoff from a pharmacy chain from a couple years back, has nobody to blame but himself.
This puts the House bill in the best negotiating position for the inevitable conference committee. Obviously the public option is a compromise in itself, but further grinding it into nothing would have made it nearly impossible to defend its inclusion in conference. Pelosi is determined to have the House be an equal player in this debate, and that starts by her passing the best bill possible from her chamber.
In other good news, the single-payer bill, HR 676, will finally get a score from the Congressional Budget Office. This score could be an excellent tool for advocates down the road, and it's sad that it's taken this long for such a score to be calculated.