Sometimes, the spin gets it: The Republicans are correct to point to this comment by Rep. Jason Altmire, Democrat of Pennsylvania, who said of his colleagues in the Senate: They have "given us a lot of reason not to trust them. Certainly that's a key component of the dynamic of getting the votes is there has to be some certainty that the Senate is going to follow through on their part." That's the main source of uncertainty in terms of the health care reform legislation -- that and the size of Bart Stupak's cohort, who will refuse to vote for the Senate bill unless it adopts House abortion language or makes promises to do so in the future. This situation is like BTU on steroids -- or like The Situation if he looked like this.*
1. Sowing the seeds of mistrust: the GOP strategy is to remind House members that they can't trust the Senate: "The House has to trust the Senate that we'll go back in and fix the most egregious political problems. But let me tell you what won't be fixed. What won't be fixed is the half a trillion in Medicare cuts, and half a trillion in new taxes," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on This Week with Matthew Dowd. (Matthew Dowd?)
BTW: McConnell said the RNC fundraising fiasco wasn't "helpful," although he did call the chairman of the RNC, Michael Steele, "articulate." Over to you...
2. Sen. Evan Bayh endorses reconciliation for #HCR. Period. Important news for the White House. And HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius predicted that the votes will be there for health care, in the end. Sebelius also deftly played off a new Goldmach Sachs report showing how health care companies are profiting even as competition is declining.
3. Sebelius, on Stupak: "I think the Senate bill, actually, has a different set of words than the amendment that Representative Stupak had in the House, but confirmed by legal scholars and various people that it does exactly the same thing. There are no federal funds for abortions. But I think that if that does not satisfy the congressman, the conversations will continue. But certainly, his goal and the president's goal are the same -- do not change the status quo on abortion."
On Candy Crowley's program, Rep. Chris Van Hollen noted that " as has been made clear by the parliamentarian under the reconciliation process, the majority rule process, there are limits to the changes you can make in the Senate bill. So this is going to be a discussion, and we are going to be engaged in that dialogue for some time until we get it done."
That it, that's all. Now back to Bryant, Katie and Joe..