I haven’t seen guys in purple hitting this hard since the Vikings swamped Tony Romo last week in Minneapolis.
“It’s gonna be incredibly difficult to stay focused on national politics if by the end of 2010 we have minimal health care and minimal changes on what’s important to our members,” he said in an interview, ridiculing the emerging Dem approach as “fear masquerading as a strategy.”
Stern unloaded on Dem leaders in resonse to reports today that they’re mulling either a scaled down bill to win GOPers or a broken up bill passed in pieces. His anger suggests Dems risk paying a big price with labor if they fail to figure out how to pass the Senate bill and fix it later, as labor wants.
Stern hinted that if House and Senate members don’t move forward with the Senate bill and some kind of fix, they could see union members spending more time on races for governor, perhaps at the expense of their reelection campaigns. “If something significant doesn’t happen in Congress, I hope the legislators appreciate that there are 37 governors races important to our members,” Stern said suggestively.
Interesting that Stern seems okay with the Senate bill. A few hours ago, DCCC head Chris Van Hollen argued that Reid’s bill is so poisonous politically that the best thing to do is scrap it entirely, have the two chambers co-draft a new, more modest bill, and then ram that through the Senate with reconciliation. The ingredients: “Creating more competition and more consumer choice; taking away special deals for the insurance industry, like the antitrust exemption; and ‘making sure that insurance companies couldn’t deny you coverage at the time you need it the most.'” Which, actually, sounds a lot like what the Times was hearing yesterday about a “pared-down bill.” Question, though: How long is this going to take? Drafting the bill would presumably need a week at least and then reconciliation would bog down for who knows how long in inevitable GOP procedural challenges. Chris Dodd, bizarrely, actually wants them to take a month or even six weeks just to cool down, let things lie, turn their attention to the economy, and then return to O-Care after the shockwaves from Massachusetts have dissipated. But that’s nuts: We’ve written ad nauseam about how nervous vulnerable Dems are about this dragging on much longer, let alone potentially for months more. Dingell, for once, is right — time is of the essence. What I can’t figure out is why Dodd, of all people, would be the messenger for the “go slow” approach. He’s supposed to be the keeper of “Ted Kennedy’s flame” or whatever, and given his retirement, he’ll suffer no consequences for wanting to ram the bill through now. Very odd.
As a tribute to SEIU, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and many others who have spent hours leaning on their friend in the White House, I offer you a parting shot from The Onion.
In The Know: Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?