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09-02-09, 06:21 PM #1
Pelosi: You're either with us, or against us. Because bipartisanship is so overrated
Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined a doubled-edged message for selling health care reform in August: one part pro-consumer and the second, attacking the health insurance industry with the same passion she took on George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization plans four years ago.
“The glory days are coming to an end for the health insurance industry in our country,” Pelosi told reporters Friday afternoon.
“This is about inoculating against misrepresentations and educating about what is in the bill,” she said. “We all want bipartisanship…but you’re either with the insurance companies or you’re for something new.”
Pelosi said her “template” is the campaign Democrats waged to derail Bush’s privatization plan, which she has long seen as a turning point in the 2006 elections that brought her party back to power.
In that case, she had only to block legislation, not win passage. But with the House Energy and Commerce Committee pushing toward action Friday night, the speaker has already come further toward her goal than Republicans ever did with Bush’s plan. And the insurance industry is a useful foil as she tries to fend off what she predicts will be a “carpet-bombing” campaign against the Democratic health initiatives this summer.
“We know what we are going to be up against,” the speaker said. “We have no illusions about what they are willing to do and how much they want to misrepresent.”
“Health Insurance Reform To Hold Insurance Companies Accountable” is the title of pocket cards issued to Democratic members going home for the recess. And Pelosi predicted that August will be used to also begin “blending” the three bills coming out House committees in expectation of also wrapping in revenue provisions being conserved in the Senate.
“Frankly I had hoped we had seen more from the Senate Finance Committee so we could have a little better idea on where we might find common ground,” the speaker said. She appears committed to bringing out a final bill costing below $1 trillion and is openly looking for alternatives to the House Ways and Means Committee strategy of relying heavily on a surcharge for the wealthy.
The pocket cards pointedly make no mention of the surcharge, and Democrats appear to have considered—and then rejected—a strategy of using the cards to individualize for each member’s district, how many people would gain coverage vs. how many would be impacted by the added tax.
“Say in my district, uninsured are 75,000 people,” Pelosi said speaking of her base in the San Francisco area. “One small percentage of that would be paying the surcharge.”
“The pay-for’s are not resolved,” she said. “We are still trying to squeeze as much cost out of the system as possible… We will certainly be below 50% of what’s needed to pay for the bill.”
Delays in the Senate remain a frustration after early promises that the Finance Committee would report a bill even before the House in June.
“What do they call themselves?” she laughed of the Senate “We’re the hot cup of coffee and they’re the saucer. They’re really doing the saucer thing to the hilt. They are cooling off this coffee to the nth degree.”
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