House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to release the text of the Democratic health care proposal tomorrow, with the hope of bringing it to the floor as early as next Friday. Pelosi will claim that the Congressional Budget Office has scored the Democratic bill as deficit neutral over the next ten years.
Of course, there's no guarantee the text Pelosi unveils tomorrow won't be replaced at the last minute on the floor by a manager's amendment that will change various provisions and, conveniently, won't have been fully scored by the CBO–as happened with cap and trade. But leave this quibble aside.
Here's the key fact: The bill will be (allegedly) deficit neutral because of hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts. If it passes, these will be the largest cuts in Medicare ever. Is the Democratic Party as a whole willing to go into the 2010 election as the party that slashed Medicare? Are individual Democratic members?
Pelosi will whisper to her members not to worry, they can rescind the cuts next year. But then, of course, the legislation will be a deficit buster. And even if the Democratic Congress does rescind the cuts, that will just allow Republicans to run ads criticizing Democrats for cutting Medicare and busting the budget. And, one might add (as Republicans will), raising taxes and hiking premiums.
One more thing: Speaker Pelosi is once again–as on cap and trade–asking her members to walk the plank, absent any evidence there are enough votes in the Senate to pass comparable legislation. In fact, the reason Pelosi is pulling the trigger now is that Reid failed in his effort to get the Senate up to the starting gate first (that was the point of last week's attempted “doc fix”).
So, the question is: Will her caucus follow Nancy off a cliff?