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Democrats Reid, Pelosi ponder crafting Obama's final healthcare bill behind closed doors

Democrats Barack Obama Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi talking on Capitol Hill

Since it's basically one-party rule in Washington nowadays, Democratic leaders including Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are seriously considering pushing President Obama's beloved healthcare legislation through Congress without the normal conference committee work involving both party's members from both houses.

Such a select conference committee is normally charged with reconciling differing House and Senate bills on the same issue before final votes in each house on the compromise version.

But since American voters collectively wanted so much change so badly in 2008, they handed over the White House, House of Representatives and Senate to Democrats with such lopsided majorities that, much as in Chicago, the ruling party doesn't really need any Republican help driving the differing bills through a blender to produce a final version, possibly by early February.

Congressional Democrats will meet with Obama at the White House this evening to discuss the....

...strategy, some in person, some via videoconferencing. House Democrats will caucus Thursday to discuss a final decision on strategy for when they reconvene next week.

As our colleague James Oliphant reports, such a beeline has some advantages for Democrats. While they don't need Republican help, they also don't need the GOP's avowed obstructionism. Simply choosing conference committee members offers numerous opportunities for long procedural delays in a democracy.

And the president has stressed healthcare urgency for months; remember, he wanted all this done by the first week of August last year because he saw poll support dropping and wanted to avoid entanglement with the 2010 elections.

But here we are in 2010. And there are the elections just 305 days away.

A new Rassmussen Reports poll out Monday finds that a majority of Americans believe the new plans will hurt healthcare quality, 59% figure it will actually increase healthcare costs, 57% oppose the bills' intent to cut Medicare benefits by hundreds of billions of dollars and, for some reason, 78% of Americans suspect the Obama administration cost estimates are way under the actual expenses.

Democrats simply ramming the immense measure through, however, might look heavy-handed to some moderate Americans, while having one party's leadership secretly craft the final bill behind closed doors fits more with a policy of official opacity than oft-promised transparency.

Emergency Room Sign

With no Republican crossing the aisle in favor of Obama's healthcare -- indeed, one Democrat House member changed parties over the bill last month -- the partisan lines are clearly drawn for the opening of the midterm election campaigns.

With no political cover offered by defecting Republicans, Democrats Reid and Pelosi are counting on some kind of healthcare legislation, even without a government plan, bringing out party loyalists on Nov. 2.

This despite the experience last November when with Obama's name on no ballot, the loyalists stayed home sufficiently to deliver to Republicans the governors' offices in Virginia and New Jersey.

And despite some very vocal intra-party opposition gathering behind snubbed former party chairman Howard Dean, himself a doctor, and influential left websites like

The GOP, on the other hand, will seek to tie every Democrat candidate everywhere to the hopey-changey guy in the White House, much as Democrats successfully associated many Republicans with the unpopular presidency of George W. Bush in 2008. The GOP might even mention the stubbornly high unemployment rate despite all of Joe Biden's revitalization talking.

Republicans are counting on the sheer scale of the healthcare bill, its immediate costs, delayed benefits, accompanying Medicare cuts and new taxes to emerge in coming months and drive to their side not only the GOP base of worried fiscal conservatives but crucial independents who thought they were voting for a moderate Obama in 2008.

If that happens, 2010's change to believe in would be over on the right, not the left.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (32)

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Healthcare is not a right --"If some men are entitled by right to the products of the work of others, it means that those others are deprived of rights and condemned to slave labor. Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right. No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as "the right to enslave." -----------Ayn Rand

I love how the podium says "Honest Leadership Open Government" on it, everyone in that picture is an enemy of the State and the US Constitution!

Democrats can negotiate with themselves/cut out Republicans/negotiate with unions/negotiate with ACORN/and even negotiate with their navels for all that it matters...but in the end it is THEIR BILL...they get to run in the mid-term elections on -higher taxes/less health care/fewer doctors/healthcare for illegals/$500 Billion dollar Medicare cuts/death panels/higher premiums/and just plain have nice time with this millstone around your neck-suckers

I read this and yes, it makes me furious. Just one in a string of lies and unkept promises from the campaign. So essentially none of us have the right to know what our government does. However, in all fairness, where are the political ads to set the record straight? C'mon, you can see it; a big tall oak door slammed (perhaps black and white film). A voice saying "after promising 'transparency', Obama and the Democrats blah blah blah.....etc..." This is too easy and it makes me wonder why the GOP aren't jumping all over this.

And now, some coffee........

The Democrats have no idea what's coming this November. But I assure them, it will be "change they can believe in"!

Nice story. I really liked the picture. The three biggest LIARS on the face of the Earth, standing behind a sign that reads: HONEST LEADERSHIP. OPEN GOVERNMENT. You can't make it up.
How many times have these three looked in to the cameras and said: "We're trying to do this in a Bi-Partisan way. We're trying to work with the other side." And how many of these SECRET MEETINGS have they had? How many BEHIND CLOSED DOORS MEETINGS has this Star Chamber had, since THE MOST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION EVER, took office?
I thought that all of this stuff was gonna be on CSPAN? President Golfer must have PROMISED that a hundred times. Go check it out.
How many more DEAD OF NIGHT VOTES are there gonna be? WHAT'S THE RUSH? Why don't they want anyone to SEE THIS THING? It won't even go in to effect until 2014. So, WHAT'S THE RUSH?! And speaking of the fact that this FRANKENSTEINS' MONSTER DOESN'T go in to effect til 2014, what gives with all the TAX COLLECTING for it, in the meantime? Does ANYONE think that this money, that they wanna collect NOW, is gonna still be there in 2014? (Social Security) There is NO CHANCE. They will SPEND IT, like they do EVERY RED CENT they get their hands on. 2014 will come, and there won't be a DIME of that money to be had.
This is the KELO DECISION x 10. They want EMINENT DOMAIN over US. And if this thing gets passed...THEY'LL HAVE IT. You people have got to WAKE UP. 60% of the American People ARE AGAINST THIS. But they're still gonna do it. Do you understand that? These people don't pick their DOG, without a Poll. They use FOCUS GROUPS to decide where they should go on VACATION. They would kick their Grandmother to the curb, if that's what their Pollsters told them was "what the people want".
And don't tell me, it's about The Greater Good. They don't do ANYTHING, for ANYBODY, but THEMSELVES. Hence, the Parade of BRIBES that were handed out. That should be their Tag Line. "So Good, we had to Bribe Folks To Vote For It." And NOTICE, they've EXEMPTED THEMSELVES, THEIR STAFF, and THEIR FAMILIES from THEIR OWN LEGISLATION. Why? Because it's not good enough for THEM. It's only good enough for YOU, and YOUR FAMILY. Understand?
That alone, should be enough to KILL THIS BILL.

Democrats can negotiate with themselves/cut out Republicans/negotiate with unions/negotiate with ACORN/and even negotiate with their navels for all that it matters...but in the end it is THEIR BILL...they get to run in the mid-term elections on -higher taxes/less health care/fewer doctors/healthcare for illegals/$500 Billion dollar Medicare cuts/death panels/higher premiums/and just plain have nice time with this millstone around your neck

The Democrats walk around in lock-step with blinders on and conclude that they are right and everybody else, voters included, are just plain dumb. They may get their holy grail health care plan shoved through by simply by-passing the normal route of bill compromise between senate and house, but you can bet that the Republicans will make up plenty of political ground by pointing out how un-open the people's government has become and how the senate, house and the Whitehouse leadership has degraded into blatant dis-honesty. Come 2010 (and later, 2012) the voting public, who where lied to and shammed into voting for Obama and his perverted vision of America, will take out their fustration and anger on the ruling party incumbents (and a few RINOs along the way). Want to commit political suicide, please feel free to do so. I for one, can't wait to pull the lever on your demise.

I love the photo with the "Honest Leadership Open Government" slogan. That juxtaposed with a discussion of Obamacare sums up the entire disconnect between what the Democrat Party promises, and reality they deliver.

It did not have to be this way. The bill stopped being about HCR a long time ago. And it was never about good government. It is HCR pornography. We have been treated to dishonesty upon dishonesty, sneering condescension, mockeries of transparency, briberies in the effort to put another 15% of the economy under more control by a government that cannot handle it. We have wasted inordinate time and money in congress trying to cobble smelly and corrupt legislation that is a patchwork of regulatory nightmares. But, on the bright side, to be sarcastic, the trial-lawyers are still a protected class. No need to mention tort-reform in the HCR, because too many dollars are at stake. And the millions of Americans who know in good-faith that we need to address the problems of the uninsured have been fooled into thinking that this closed-door, bribe-driven disaster is actually about the uninsured. It isn't. It is about money and power. It did not have to be this way.

"Honest Leadership" "Open Government". Talk about in-your-face hypocracy!

Transparancy? Has anyone seen any?

I truly hope the Democrats pass this bill. I hope they get total credit for it too!

Nothing would fuel a 2010 Republican come back and 2012 Repubican president, then letting America see the fruits of Democrat controlled goverment!

The Democrats are their own worse enemy. A health care bill that most Americans oppose and soon an attempt to push the same Immigration Reform plan that Americans already overwhelmingly rejected!

I have already heard Democrats say that Americans will "come around" to their health care reform plan AFTER it is passed. They don't worry about any "consent of the governed" problem.

They use the "shut up and do as your told" system!

CSPAN has written a letter to Obama asking him to finally honor his pledge and have the final meetings completing this monstrosity televised, as he PROMISED, on CSPAN. After the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback the American people have the right to know what is in this bill, and what deals are being made. Open the doors as you promised President Obama?????? OPEN THE DOORS!

The democrats are signing a suicide pact. This is just more of the same healthcare junky government intervention with the unexpected added layer of pork. Where you live and how you vote will determine the quality of health care you receive. This will mobilize the electorate to throw the bums out. Rightfully so.

That rumbling noise in the background gaining volume is the "magnitude 10" laughing quake... People remembering the Obama "Transparency" pledge... And the Pelosi/Reid accusations against the Republicans as being the "Culture of corruption".

I doubt "the people" will make the mistake of believing Democrats again, for a long, long time.

Where is the Honest Leadership they espouse????? What can we do to stop this assault on the democratic process??? I feel so helpless. I e-mail and call the office of my senators and representative as well as the president. I sign petitions. I attend tea parties. I contribute to those who are fighting against this terrible assault on our democracy. None of it seems do any good. The president and democrats are going to ram through a health bill the public doesn't want. They don't care what the citizens want.

The increased tax withholding from most people's paychecks--if they still have jobs--will make it obvious that a democRAT ripoff is in progress. TSUNAMI coming on Nov. 2, 2010.

Behind closed doors says it all...this is something that, in substance and process, stinks so bad it cannot see the light of day. This is the "change you can believe in"???

It's insults one's intelligence to see this called "reform" and mendacious to claim that those who oppose this monstrosity are opposed to reform.

I love the way the LAT prints "news" that has been developing for at least 5 months. I also love the "obstructionist" repub's - are they simply "representing" the majority opinion in the country that WE DONT WANT IT? It is NO wonder why these "news"papers are dropping like flies. I lived in LA for 15 yrs; the Sunday mag/cross word was about the best I could say about the "news"paper.

Speaking of "closed doors," voters cast their ballots behind closed doors.

If this bill passes I will stop paying taxes, ( I have a cash based income ) why be honest? I will use our government as my role model and be as honest as they are. Instead of giving my money to the IRS I'll put the money toward bringing charges and prosecution for treason, theft by deception, and subversion against those who passed it into law having not read the bill, having not written the bill (the majority was written by a special interest group not elected or authorized by the citizens of the U.S.A.), Committing acts against the will of the American people. I am all for persuing legal actions against each after they leave office as well including lawsuits taking everything they have made or will make during the time served in office over and above their normal salary for the job. Kick backs, special favors, "campaign contributions", incomes from jobs obtained after leaving office for a company that benefited from their votes. All the perks gained by the special interests.......Gone....

btw, I love the photo used for this article since it shows Reid, Pelosi and Obama with a backdrop and sign on the podium that reads "Honest Leadership - Open Government -" You know the same ones who did everything behind closed doors in secret. Called anyone opposing them un-American, Nazi's, racists, etc... They refuse to listen to the will of the people (you know those who are suppose to be their bosses).

I was once proud to be an American.....
now I am disgusted at what has become of our country.

It's time Reid and Pelosi are stopped from SABOTAGING the country and the american people. Vote Obama and these people out of office. Obama lied about enforcing bipartisan and transparency. This healthcare bill represents a small number of people. Most people like the health insurance they have and do not trust, nor want this plan.

The reconciliation debate needs to be in public. And the Senate needs to modify its 60-40 rule to allow majority rules for reconciliation votes. This will accomplish the following ...

- The public will get what Obama promised during the campaign - an open discussion.

- The final vote will represent a democratic outcome without parlimentary guerrilla warfare used to torpedo the process

- The "silent lobbyist" won't have their way with our representatives out of the public view.

- And the PUBLIC OPTION will be put back into the bill resulting in overwhelming support from the public - as all polling on this subject has shown.


Great information and a majority of Americans believe the new plans will hurt healthcare quality, 59% figure it will actually increase healthcare costs, 57% oppose the bills' intent to cut Medicare benefits by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Some democrat senators have been bought and paid to vote for this healthcare bill. They know it will not lower cost, it will raise cost for everyone, it will cut medicare for seniors and it will not provide insurance for thousands of others. If this trash bill pass, I will boo Mr. liar Obama everytime he praise it. Ignoring the repubs and a large number of americans who do not want this bill, makes him the fool he appears to be.

Oh boy, three blind mice by way of the three stooges, Obama, Reid and Pelosi

Hey Obama where's the Obama Care C-Span broadcast that you campaigned about? Bush was much more honest and transparent than you'll ever be!

I run for my barf bag every time I see the face of that vomit inducing
Waxman. Bunch of slime balls floating in a sea of puss...and that is still too
restrained a comment.

Only a moron like Pelosi would laugh about Obango telling lies in his campaign about transparency, she laughs because she lies about as bad as Obango! To make a statement that the administration has been the most transparent ever? Lady are you on crack? Or it must be your face which looks like the Joker on Batman has caused your brain to swell and you just have no excuse for your idiotic stance in government and your brazenness to try and topple our democracy!

Forgot to mention Pelosi, that if you like to watch yourself on TV about the remark you made about Obango keeping campaign promises listen to what you said closely between your laughs and you yourself called Obango a liar. So I am hoping that the henchmen of Obango light a fire under you after the dorks upstairs with less brains realize what you said on national TV about his hindness.

maobama sucks

I can tell you this right now, the only parties that will do well are those who are carrying candidates who are not members or visitors or associates of various Elitist organizations! Eg. Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, CFR, Club of Rome, etc.
The American public is absolutely fed up and furious of this system of getting the same results by voting for either party Republican or Democrat, and the whole thing ends up being the same package, with the same people, behind the curtain pulling the strings on these new, either Republican or Democrat Puppets!
The American people don't want moderate Neo-con/Socialist Government they want Constitutional Leaders, who follow the laws of the Constitution absolutely, they also don't want to pay a tax on debt they didn't cause as the Fed caused it! The American people want the so called "Private Federal Reserve," audited and should short comings, dipping and embezellment be found, we should shut the Federal Reserve down immediately and create our own American Treasury! American's want to Re-Industrialize and want no part of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund or "The New World Order"! That is what it will take to win American votes from now on! No more two party paradyne, wherby the two parties are the same party run by Elitists at the top - just like 1 coin being either heads or tails! Example of the last two party puppet paradyne: George Bush and his Republican Govt. with Rinos and then Barak Obama and his Democrat Govt. with Moderates all under the supervision of the Rothschilds, David Rockefeller, George Soros, Maurice Strong, Rahn Emanuel, Lawrence Summers etc. The American Republic has had enough of these people and their games and they want them out! If the Republicans continue to play this game with Elites inside their party, they will be booted out just like Obama's minnions are getting the take a hike boot, that says don't ever come back! Check out what Government is doing behind your back at:


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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