Weekly Pulse: Key Dems Back Public Option

 By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger

The chairs of five key congressional committees have finalized a plan for healthcare reform, and their blueprint includes a critical public option. The chairs' decision to support government-administered health insurance for everyone who wants it is sure to attract ferocious opposition from both the insurance industry and its patrons in the GOP.

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Kuttner: Disarm Deficit Hawks w/Universal Healthcare

In today's Washington Post, public policy wonk Robert Kuttner, who's also co-editor of American Prospect Magazine and the author of  "Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency," tells us about "The Deficit Hawks' Attack on Our Entitlements."

This snippet pretty much sums up his thoughts today:

...The economy we bequeath to our children has everything to do with getting growth back on track and almost nothing to do with imagined future deficits.

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Health Care is a Priority for OMB Director Peter Orszag

Here's some very good news about what could be in store from the Obama administration.

Peter Orszag, the director of Obama's Office of Management and Budget, was seen as a key figure in negotiating the bailout compromise. Known as an academic, Washington insiders were surprised by how effective he was. But the most exciting about Peter Orszag is that he is dedicated to health care reform. From Ben Smith's Budget to kick off health care rewrite:

And the bill spends more than $1 billion on Orszag's pet cause, research on the effectiveness of medical practices, which he sees as an opening to reforming American health care through sheer analytical will.

So we're already getting the benefit of his expertise and interest in health care. And apparently there is more to come:

He's signaling that the moves in the stimulus package are just a hint of what's to come in a budget that will begin in earnest the arduous process of health care reform.

"What has already been accomplished is a huge start toward a more efficient [health care] system, and I think you're going to see more in the budget next week," he told Politico.

Even more promising is his view of health care, Social Security, Medicare, and budget priorities:

Orszag's other key agenda item next week will be an effort to change the debate on Medicare and Social Security.

Orszag's long-running project -- something that has made him the left's favorite Cabinet member -- has been replacing talk of an "entitlement crisis" with his argument that Social Security requires only modest tax hikes and benefit cuts, while Medicare and Medicaid have much more dramatic fiscal woes.

"Social Security faces an actuarial deficit over the next 75-100 years. In the past, I've resisted the term `crisis' to describe that kind of situation," he said. "This is not quantitatively as important as getting health care done."

Hooray! Orszag doesn't just understand the number crunching, he understands the importance of framing the debate in the proper terms in order to control the dialog and push forth an agenda. Health care is my number one issue this is exactly what I'm hoping for in the Obama administration. I have very high hopes for what can be accomplished with Orszag running the OMB.

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ACTION ALERT: Tell Obama to Keep His Word on Social Security & Medicare!

(Proudly cross-posted at C4O Democrats, and many thanks to Chris Bowers at Open Left for confirming that I'm not crazy) ;-)

For everyone who thought I was some insane "boy crying wolf" yesterday, this should prove them wrong. Just as I warned and many folks "in the know" had previously reported, President Obama may be open to supporting the creation of an commission that could force some undemocratic, unfair, and unstimulative proposals including cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

However, President Obama still says on the White House web site that he opposes the very measures that supporters of this "fiscal responsibility commission" support, like raising the retirement age and any type of privatization effort. So what are we to believe? We need for the White House to clarify to us and to the entire nation what they intend to do on "entitlement reform".

Please email the White House here or call them at 202-456-1111! And if you need any ideas on what to say, please let my comments inspire you.

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President Obama, Please Don't F*ck Up Our Social Security

(Proudly cross-posted at C4O Democrats)

This frightens me. I'm sorry, but I just can't ignore it any longer. I need to ask this question. Is President Obama considering privatizing Social Security and/or Medicare?

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