AP story, today:
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1. Obstacles abound for Obamacare.Forget mission accomplished. Try mission seemingly impossible.
With the Senate Finance Committee on the verge of approving a sweeping health overhaul bill Tuesday, the path might appear open for action by the full Senate.
Not so fast.
First the Finance Committee bill must be combined with a more liberal version that the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee wrapped up this summer. This merger is so rare that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has never attempted it on any piece of legislation - much less one as complex as President Barack Obama's top legislative priority. The senator from Searchlight, Nev., will need plenty of guiding light.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., had a one-word description of Reid's task: "Tough."
Said Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico: "He's on the hot seat."
"I don't even want to think about it," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. "What a daunting challenge."
Everything about health overhaul legislation seems to be unusually complicated, but this process is particularly so because of the disparities between the bills and Obama's goal of keeping the cost at $900 billion over 10 years. Reid won't go it alone; he will get some help from the White House and the committee chairmen.
It's still not clear what the product will look like finally, including whether it embraces any version of a government-run plan. Whatever it looks like, it will face a barrage of amendments once it gets to the Senate floor, and it could easily go down in flames like former President Bill Clinton's attempt at a health care overhaul in 1994.
"There is no model for success that exists, there isn't one and if you do it you're going to have to create the first model for success," said Lawrence O'Donnell, who was chief of staff for the Finance Committee during the Clinton effort. "Congress doesn't know how to do things it hasn't done before," O'Donnell said.
2. Majority Leader Reid must now merge his two separate and quite different bills in the Senate, Baucus' and HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions), chaired by Tom Harkin.
3. The merger is so rare that Reid has never attempted it before, let alone on a legislation as large and multi-layered as what he's looking at here.
4. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, chief of staff for Finance in the early 90's, when Clinton Care simililary croaked, says: "There is no model for success that exists, Congress doesn't know how to do things it hasn't done before."
5. Maria Cantwell, Jeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad have each spoken publicly about the daunting difficulties which must be dealt with by Reid.
6. Most problematic, naturally, is the public option.
7. HELP has one but Baucus doesn't.
8. Inclusion of the government plan will doom health care in the Senate.
9. Baucus, Carper, Ben Nelson, Lincoln and Conrad have already nixed the notion in Baucus' Gateway, Senate Finance.
10. Lieberman, McCaskill, Bill Nelson, Landrieu, Feingold, Dorgan, Pryor and Bayh will also oppose.
11. The president, meanwhile, the face of fickle, is reportedly working his phone off the hook the last few days twisting arms and cajoling for the public option that must ultimately undo his chances.
12. Obama simply doesn't get it.
13. He experiences painful pressure from his party's left.
14. The point---anything that pleases the moderates will alienate the liberals, led most loudly by Rockefeller, Schumer and Wyden.
15. The tax on "cadillac" benefit packages is another disagreement between the bills Reid labors to bond.
16. Pursuit of Olympia Snowe is as pointless as the Olympics, she'll flirt but never kiss.
17. HR3200 is dead in the House due to dogs and freshmen, their intractable disobedience.
18. Pelosi's piece has moved miles left since barely clearing Waxman's Energy-Commerce just before recess.
19. But even if both impossibilities were to occur, passage thru both parliaments, reconciliations between Pelosi's place and Reid's roundhouse still remain.
20. In the Senate there are 60 players and 60 different versions.
21. The point---the party is STILL working out details, all improv.
22. No leadership.
23. Like herding cats.
24. And THIS president couldn't even keep sheep together.
25. Chuck Schumer, the most prominent spokesperson for the PO, on this morning's Coffee Joe Scarborough, MSNBC, was pressed by the ex Florida congressman on the issue of competition, central to Schumer's justification for the government alternative to private plans.
26. Why don't you allow people to purchase across state lines, asked Coffee Joe.
27. We should, answered Schumer.
29. Snowe speaks out for a trigger, Cantwell covets a state-level option.
30. When Pennsylvania democrats visited the White House to celebrate the Penguins' Stanley Cup, the prez pulled the partisans aside to push his PO, even while Baucus was busting his butt brokering a bill without one.
31. Rockefeller and Wyden refuse to support a statute sans PO, sufficient to kill Baucus in committee, 11 to 12.
32. "More needs to be done to hold insurance companies accountable," explained Oregon's most progressive poobah.
33. John Kerry craves an employer mandate, included in 3200 and HELP but not Baucus.
34. The 04 candidate is also the most ardent advocate for the "cadillac" tax.
35. Lincoln and Snowe (LOL!) call for an exemption from new taxes and fines for middle class families.
36. Wyden, meanwhile, worries against any "hardship waiver" which will leave uninsured those Ms Lincoln would protect.
37. Yesterday, on This Week with Stephanopoulos, Schumer bid to "put the burden on the average middle class now."
38. New York's nettlesome nabob yearns to address the costs of "uncompensated care," the passing off of expenses on to the public of paying for those uncovered who get run over by buses.
39. "Universal participation" is Schumer's solution.
40. A bipartisan bunch of bigwigs bellyaches over Baucus' bounty on makers of "medical devices," sure to be passed on to purchasers of hearing aids and prosthetic hips.
41. And a sizeable selection of democrats is in open rebellion against Obama's secret deal with Pharma.
42. They look for larger concessions from that inimical industry.
43. Apparently insuperable, meanwhile, are objections to widespread tax inceases on all Americans, including the poor and middle class---mandates on individuals to purchase for themselves and fines against those who don't; massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; the sluffing off onto already bankrupt states of unmanagable mandates; taxes on small business; surcharges on upper earners; and the taxing of benefit packages, especially those of unionists and residents of the northeast.
43. The party is fast running out of time.
44. The president improvises.
Obama quietly tries to shore up Senate support for public option -- latimes.com