On The Charlie Rose Show, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said that health-care legislation will pass and will be bipartisan even if only Democrats vote for it. His justification: The bill will include “bipartisan ideas,” including some that Senator John McCain advocated in his presidential campaign last year. (See Byron York’s write-up.)
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain’s policy director during the campaign, tells me that he disagrees. “This is what I would say they have done: They have conveniently labeled things they’ve done as efforts the McCain campaign undertook but they’re not really the same.” McCain, he notes, favored leveling the playing field between individually purchased insurance and employer-provided insurance. The Baucus bill, in contrast, raises taxes on high-end insurance policies but does not promote the kind of free health-care marketplace McCain had in mind. “So I don’t think of that as the same.” Nor, Holtz-Eakin says, is Obama’s support for slashing Medicare Advantage payments the same as McCain’s advocacy of improved efficiency and decreased waste in Medicare.
All in all, Holtz-Eakin dubs the similarities “superficial” and the White House’s approach “cynical.” If the White House really wants bipartisanship, he adds, it has to break with the Democratic party’s left wing.