Daily Archives: March 21, 2010

President Obama Rouses the House Democratic Caucus – 03/20/10

Even if I disliked President Obama and the Health Care Reform legislation (which I don’t), I would still be impressed with this speech (in three parts, below). Not just because it is presented so well and seemingly off the cuff, but because of how well he does what he has to do. He has to take the Democratic Caucus and do his part to unite them before the big vote on the next day. He is like the coach coming in to work up the players. To the more liberal members of the caucus, he has to acknowledge that the bill doesn’t have all that they want in it and still get them to support it. To the more conservative member of the caucus he has to get them to step up and vote for the bill despite the difficulties it may put them in come election time in 2010. And he has to do that all in this speech.

The result? I think he does a great job of this in this speech. But see for yourself.

Who is Douglas Holtz-Eakin? More importantly, what is the CBO?

Well, at the bottom of his Op-Ed Contribution, The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform, in the NYTimes.com, it says he was “the director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005, is the president of the American Action Forum, a policy institute.” Fairly neutral sounding roles to me, and likely anyone else reading this attack on the current Health Care Reform legislation before the U.S. Congress. However, in this age of the Internet, I can quickly browse his Wikipedia entry, that starts by saying he was “former chief economic policy adviser to U.S. Senator John McCain‘s 2008 presidential campaign“. As well, if you look up the members of the American Action Forum, you see alot of American conservatives, including Norm Coleman, Jeb Bush,Tom Ridge and likely others. Indeed, the Forum states that it is “center-right”. Now there’s nothing wrong with all that, of course, but knowing it helps you take his opinion with a grain of salt.

Either the Times or Holtz-Eakin is downplaying his role working for Senator McCain. Worse, it seems to me that he is downplaying the importance of the CBO, an office that he was head of for a number of years. I wonder if Republicans will start discounting the CBO in general if it makes rulings that, while neutral, are not in it’s favour. That would be a bad thing. I think the CBO is a great idea and I am impressed how quickly it takes legislation and turns around with rulings. It’s an office that should get support from Americans, not something that should be degraded.

For more on the CBO, you can find the director’s blog here. It’s good stuff, especially this post where they take on Uncertainty in Estimates for Health Care Legislation. Maybe Doug Holtz-Eakin should read that. As he should know, the CBO takes it job very seriously, and they take a broad and deep approach to the work before them. Just read that post and see.