This is big news: Democrats have mapped out their legislative strategy for passing health care reform this year. According to George Stephanopoulos, Democrats will work with Republicans to build consensus around a plan, and then, if that doesn't work, they'll write the revenue-generating-and-substracting provisions of whatever health care plan they come up with into the FY 2010 budget resolution. As important: the budget reconciliation process, which circumvents moderate Democratic and GOP discontent in the Senate, will NOT be used to set up a carbon emissions credit trading system. Cap-and-trade was always the tougher sell to Congress. Americans don't understand it; members of Congress from coal-producing states worry about job losses in their state (they call it a transfer of wealth); consumers would be forced to pay more in the short-term for energy. Why did Obama chose health care? Here's a good explanantion from the perspective of policy. Politically, health care reform is more easily swallowed than cap-and-trade and probably less expensive, especially if Obama endorses large-but-incremental incisions over massive surgery. Curiously, though, if, during the transition, you had asked (future) administration officials to predict whether, if a choice had to be made, health care or cap-n-trade would see more action this year, just as many would have placed a bet on cap-and-trade. "As part of our ongoing conversations with Democrats and Republicans on the Hill, senior aides met with Hill aides last night to discuss the budget, but no decisions were made," an administration official said.
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