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Left Rebels Over Blue Dog Healthcare Deal

By Dave Eberhart   |   Thursday, 30 Jul 2009 02:18 PM

A House leadership deal with centrist blue dog Democrats that includes postponing a floor vote on ObamaCare until after the August recess has prompted strong protest from the left, according to a report in The Hill.

The compromise with the blue dogs also:

  • Cuts $100 billion from the bottom line of healthcare reform;

  • Allow states to create health “co-ops” that would compete with the government-run “public option” and private insurers; and

  • Loosens the employer mandate so that it covers businesses with payrolls of $500,000 or more, instead of $400,000.

    Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, blasted, “It’s unacceptable. We’re not going to vote for anything that doesn’t have a robust public plan.”

    Meanwhile, the up-in-arms liberals scrambled to get 50 signatures on a letter to the leadership opposing the deal and locking in the votes necessary to defeat the healthcare bill on the floor, according to the Hill report.

    “Fifty is our threshold,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., a co-chairman of the caucus. “That’ll kill anything.”

    In other developments:

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called a group of liberals to her office in the mid-afternoon to help quell the revolt.

  • Democrats delayed plans to continue a stalled markup of the bill by the Energy and Commerce Committee until the end of the week, opting instead to hold a caucus meeting to answer member concerns.

  • President Barack Obama phoned Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill, an Energy and Commerce member and a spearhead for the healthcare issue for the Progressive Caucus — telling her the bill should go forward.

  • The White House published a statement from Obama that praised some blue dog Democrats on Energy and Commerce for seeking to find “common ground, ” noting, “Those efforts are extraordinarily constructive in strengthening this legislation and bringing down its cost.”

    Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman of the Finance panel, touted the draft legislation he is mulling with Republicans and Democrats on his committee as the most cost-effective road to expanding health insurance coverage.

    According to the Hill, Baucus claimed positive feedback from a preliminary Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of their work. Thus far, according to various media reports, CBO has been highly critical of how the country is going to foot the bill for the ambitious ObamaCare.

    “The current draft of the bill scores below $900 billion over 10 years, covers 95 percent of all Americans by 2015, and is fully offset,” said Baucus. “In fact, according to the preliminary CBO report, the bill would actually reduce the federal deficit in the 10th year by several billion dollars.”

    Despite what Baucus described as his “good news,” his draft bill promises to put off the liberals since it does not feature a government-run public insurance plan option and leaves out a requirement that most employers provide health benefits.

    According to The Associated Press, Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.V., a fan of the public option who sits on the Finance Committee, expressed his dismay at being shut out of the Baucus discussions, dubbed “the group of six.”

    With regard to the concessions, Rockefeller said this week, "Can't you see the joy on my face?"

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