Morning Must Reads — Harried Reid

Wall Street Journal — Health Bill Faces Senate Heat

As Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio observed today “[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi lost almost 15 percent of her members. If Reid loses one member of his 60-vote majority, his bill might be doomed.”

That’s the conclusion reached by Janet Adamy and Naftali Bendavid and everyone else looking at the Senate prospects on health care today: the House passage of an extreme bill by a tiny margin will rile up moderate members of the Senate who can now be more demanding. There’s running room to the right on a final compromise bill but none to the left (Dennis Kucinich was the only liberal “no” vote).

The question Senate liberals are now asking themselves “What is better than nothing?”

“But its narrow passage in the House, where the Democrats have a large majority, underscores the difficulties ahead. Senate Democrats are struggling to agree on how to pay for the overhaul and whether to create a new public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, as the House did. Friction over how the bill treats abortion, which almost derailed the House vote, is likely to divide the Senate too.

‘If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote,’ Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) said on Fox News Sunday.”

Wall Street Journal — In Final Hours, an Intense Push for 'Yes' Votes

My column today looks at the political arguments the president used to get nervous Democrats to walk the plank for the Pelosi health plan.

But the degree to which he and his tem had to work to get the bill passed in the House reveals that lawmakers understood the danger of what they were doing.

Jonathan Weisman and Naftali Bendavid show us the process.

“For wavering lawmakers, Democratic leaders used a ratcheting-up strategy, aides said. Calls would come first from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), then the speaker, then White House senior adviser David Axelrod, then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and finally the president.

Sometimes it worked. Reps. Kurt Schrader, a freshman from Oregon, Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Melissa Bean of Illinois weren't convinced that the bill's cost — at more than $1 trillion — would be covered by spending cuts and tax increases, as predicted by the Congressional Budget Office. They pressed leaders for assurance that final negotiations with the Senate would yield a tax that House leaders hadn't been willing to accept — a levy on high-cost insurance plans. Negotiators ultimately conceded that a final deal likely would.”

New York Times — For Opponents of Abortion, a Victory in Health Care Vote

The left side of the Internet is howling over the concessions Speaker Nancy Pelosi made on abortion – barring federal subsidies for insurance policies that offer coverage for elective abortion. Some who believe abortion is a right suggest that to get in on the new federal health entitlement program, insurers will drop elective abortion coverage altogether.

The Guttmacher Institute estimated that the average cost of an abortion was less than $400, so it seems unlikely that lack of insurance coverage would be that great a barrier to the more than 800,000 abortions performed each year. It seems unlikely that cost would have stopped the 13 percent of the procedures covered by insurance.

But the point, as writers David Kirkpatrick and Robert Pear point out, is about the future.

Liberals are enthusiastic about the slippery slope to single-payer health care, but now worry that the socialized medical future would be more like Spain (morally proscriptive) than Sweden (morally permissive).

But abortion-rights activists were also shocked at how dismissively they were treated – their lack of clout compared to the influence of the influence of the Catholic Church within their party.

“On Sunday, some abortion rights advocates lashed out at the bishops. ‘It was an unconscionable power play,’ said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, accusing the bishops of ‘interceding to put their own ideology in the national health care plan.’

Now some Senate Democrats, including Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, are pushing to incorporate the same restrictions in their own bill. Senior Senate Democratic aides said the outcome was too close to call.”

Washington Post — Authorities scrutinize links between Fort Hood suspect, imam said to back al-Qaeda

The gunman who killed 12 soldiers at Ft. Hood kept some pretty radical company, including the imam of a northern Virginia mosque who had counseled with the 9/11 bombers and is now on the lam in Yemen.

While the president and Army leaders are quick to warn about a backlash against Muslim soldiers (hear, hear), the idea that members of our officer corps could be so openly sympathetic to the Islamists we are fighting without getting yanked from duty is shocking.
A backlash is bad. So is intentional blindness.

“Still, terrorism experts say they expect future cases of conflicted individuals who become radicalized and take up violence. ‘I don't see any conspiracy, and I don't see at this stage any real tie to 9/11 per se,’ [Charles Allen, former chief intelligence officer for the Homeland Security Department] said. However, he added, Hasan ‘seems to me to be very much a self-radicalized or inspired individual. . . . I feel this will be our problem over the next five years.’”

Anthony Dolan — Four Little Words

Today we celebrate a pivot point in history: the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Reagan speechwriter Dolan illuminates the backstory of the battle to keep the 40th president’s exhortation of Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in Reagan’s now-famous 1987 speech.

Dolan’s larger point is that words in the mouth of the president of the United States have real consequences.

“This was the sort of moral confrontation, as countless dissidents and resisters have noted, that makes these regimes conciliatory, precisely because it heartens those whom they fear most—their own oppressed people. Reagan's understanding that rhetorical confrontation causes geopolitical conciliation led in no small part to the wall's collapse 20 years ago today.

The current administration, most recently with overtures to Iran's rulers and the Burmese generals, has consistently demonstrated that all its impulses are the opposite of Reagan's. Critics who are worried about the costs of economic policies adopted in the last 10 months might consider as well the impact of the administration's systematic accommodation of criminal regimes and the failure to understand what ‘good vs. evil’ rhetoric can do.”

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