I've now had a chance to skim the extended paper on Obama's plan - not extended by much, from 6 to 15 pages, be it said - and one thing is striking: the fact that Obama puts a figure on the savings to be generated.
(It's a pretty flimsy sort of a figure:
The Obama plan will save a typical American family up to
$2,500 every year on medical expenditures...
Typical? Up to? Pretty weasely.)
But, unless his guys pulled the number from their collective ass, there must have been some modeling done on which it is based.
A model which will have included a shedload of assumptions that may or may not stand up to scrutiny.
Will we get our hands on the modeling? That would be a blow for openness in the electoral process!
I understand why any candidate this far from an election wants to stay hazy about numbers, whatever the subject.
But no health plan is more than warm words which doesn't come with paperwork: not only to show due diligence on the part of the campaign, but (mostly) to allow the rest of us (in particular, healthcare experts) to check that the proposal is not pure snake oil.
Better still, there ought to be some kind of open-source model for us Great Unwashed to work the numbers. (Duelling quotes from experts who themselves are skimpy on paperwork are no help, except for propaganda.)
Without assurance on the numbers, a paper like Obama's is all Zeno's Paradox for all we know.
I agree with Adam that the good ol' boys are pretty much going to get their bill this time.
But - huge but! - this is our chance to get immersed into the legislative process on the side of the good guys (there must be some!) and get the feel of what goes on.
(Which there's no way you can do from books, fan of books though I am that says it.)
Peterson evidently thinks the business as usual bill is a slam dunk, to judge from the hubristic statements we've been getting. To rain just a few drops on his parade would be great.
To find something that the fat cats can fall out over would be the thing...
The Lugar bill is S 1422 - his page is here, though the THOMAS copy of the bill is more manageable than the PDF there.
Lugar sounds good to me; unless Harry goes mad and starts filling the amendment tree from Day One, Lugar is going to be able to to offer the bill (in some version) as an amendment to the Senate version of the farm bill: or, if that would prove more divisive to the forces of corporate welfare, offer other amendments.
How many other senators are there (in either party) who are pissed off with the Ag Circus and might find insurgency attractive?
In the 110th, the Dems are weak in the Senate and bills that manage to pass Congress are subject to a (usually) un-overridable veto.
The only place where they have some control is the House. It's meant to be the chamber of majority control. The GOP have raised the bar a bit, but they weren't responsible for the basic principle.
My guess is that Dem reps would have expected the Dem leadership to exploit majority agenda control to the fullest. And the way that most (all?) important bills have got closed, or modified closed, rules suggested that that was happening.
(Not to mention the GOP squawking on the subject!)
Now, the whole long-drawn-out business of measures dealing with Iraq has put a considerable strain on the House party: in particular, Progs have reason to feel that the leadership has been prepared to sacrifice their interests in the cause of getting something out the door that won't be vetoed.
Being in a legislative party in a place like the US House is a two-way street: a rep gives loyalty to the leadership because leadership control advances many of the causes he holds dear. (Or, at least, finds electorally expedient to support!)
The rep surrenders (most of) his autonomy of action to the leadership in exchange for the leadership delivering legislative results which come closer to his ideal point than a free-for-all would.
The argument that may attract Pelosi is: the Progs have nowhere to go. Unlike the Dogs, and other Dem mods, who may find a natural home (on a particular issue) with large elements of the GOP, the Progs have no other section with which they can coalesce. They can safely be ignored in a Dem leadership strategy to put together a bipartisan union of mods (on said issue).
I'd say she better think twice: it's one thing for a leadership to struggle and strive to get a majority for a piece of legislation, and in the end regretfully pass it with a bipartisan coalition. (Even in opposition to a majority of the majority.)
It's quite another preemptively to announce that the MoM strategy has been junked, and the leadership will take any port in a storm.
This is miles away from the GOP majority practice of picking up stray Dem votes to pass legislation like (memory!) the Medicare bill in 2003 and the bankruptcy bill in 2005. Also quite unlike the catch and release policy, under which GOP reps were allowed to drift off the reservation providing that the vote remained a cynch.
Now, I don't know whether trade and Iraq will be the only examples of Pelosi going against MoM; two swallows don't make a summer, and the hoo-hah over the Dem proposal to curb the motion to recommit suggested that she had no intention to let 435 flowers bloom.
But - her stance on HR 2206 and the upcoming trade votes marks a break in previous practice, and one worthy of careful consideration.
I think we can explain what's going on - that may or may not be something you'd want to happen, depending on the circumstances! But I'm not sure what else.
And there's no way we can even explain unless we have out noses pointed to the relevant text, and have its relevance (the political, economic, etc angles) pointed out to us by experts in the subject matter. (The most innocuous-looking amending provision can mean billions of corporate welfare!)
Whatever happens, dealing with the legislation of this Congress will stand us in good stead when (we hope) the Dems will get a crack at trifecta rule in the 111th.
(My laptop is buggered, hence the crude look of the foregoing...)
For all the screaming pie-fights one sees over meta at - some places I could mention! - this is something I can't remember seeing get coverage.
My sense would be that not only would the style you suggest be more conducive to drawing in - not to mention, keeping - non-choirmembers, but would also increase the value (and the information to noise ratio) of blogs for the rest of us.
Beyond that, there are problems with trying to pitch the content at a lay audience: on the one hand, my sense is that the technical knowledge of a good part of the choir is, on average, not stellar (in matters of legislative process, that is, the only area I can really judge); on the other hand, discussing a technical subject without assuming a lot of prior knowledge becomes hideously unwieldy - not to mention tedious.
Worst of all, it interrupts the flow of thought!
It's a problem which is kind of analogous to that with news, that it reports events, but not states. So, missing white girls, yes; public health, no.
Part of the trouble is that, on a blog like this, the only signs of interest one gets in diaries are recommendations and comments.
And, if the reader's problem is that he doesn't really understand what in Sam Hill you're talking about, he's unlikely to offer either!