The Corner

Sweetheart Deals Not So Bad After All, Axelrod Says

As key Democrats are (once again) claiming an ‘end game’ for health-care reform, the White House is backing off yet another promise in order to secure the final few votes the bill needs for passage.

The Associated Press reports:

Clinching support, though, might require Obama to back away from his insistence that senators purge the legislation of a number of lawmakers’ special deals.

Taking a new position, Axelrod said the White House only objects to state-specific arrangements, such as an increase in Medicaid funding for Nebraska, ridiculed as the “Cornhusker Kickback.” That’s being cut, but provisions that could affect more than one state are OK, Axelrod said.

That means deals sought by senators from Montana and Connecticut would be fine — even though Gibbs last week singled them out as items Obama wanted removed. There was resistance, however, from two committee chairman, Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and the White House has apparently backed down.

Axelrod said the principles the White House wants to apply include “Are these applicable to all states? Even if they do not qualify now, would they qualify under certain sets of circumstances?”

At the same time, wavering House Democrats are being treated to one-on-one White House meetings with the president, who is reportedly asking members ‘what are you looking for in the bill?’


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