Obama Sees It Hillary's Way

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Looks like the Senate Finance Committee won't get around to voting on health care for several more days. The Congressional Budget Office has taken longer than expected to tote up what the bill would actually cost. In the grand scheme of things this is no big deal, but it doesn't help matters when there's a delay, given all the forging and compromising and negotiating that needs to be done to try and get a bill through both houses of Congress by the end of the year. Odds are pretty good that the bill passes out of the Finance Committee on a party line vote, but Olympia Snowe, the Republican from Maine, could sign on, and Jay Rockefeller could opt out.

By the way, I don't think enough has been made of Obama's 180 degree turn on mandates since the Democratic primaries. As you may recall, Obama opposed mandates. Hillary favored requiring people to buy insurance. (To be fair, she opposed this back in '94 when the late Sen. John Chaffee proposed them.) This was one of the major issues dividing Obama and Clinton in a campaign that was more about gauzy themes of change and experience instead of real policy differences. Much was made in the elite media about Obama's reliance on the work of Cass Sunstein's book, "Nudge," about encouraging people to do the right thing. Mandates were paleogovernment in Obama's eyes. Now, um, not so much. As policy turnarounds go, this isn't on the order of, say, George W. Bush opposing nation building or Bill Clinton canceling the middle-class tax cut he promised in 1992. But it is a change, and it would probably be a bigger deal if Hillary Clinton were in the Senate instead of at State.

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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