18 March 2009

House Health Care Committee: Miller, Waxman, Rangel

At a time when President Obama is having trouble knowing for sure even which Democrats will support the presidential agenda (see here and here), it's nice to see some sticking power taking shape in the House on the topic of health care. And I have a hard time seeing an accident the the shape of that sticking power.

From the Times:

George Miller and Henry A. Waxman of California and Charles B. Rangel of New York, all Democrats, have a combined total of more than 100 years of service in the House.

Mr. Miller, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over employee benefits, said the three lawmakers had decided to “try and work as one committee” to produce a comprehensive health care bill this summer.

Mr. Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “We intend to work from a single bill, and have that bill considered by the House before the August recess.”

Leading Republicans and insurance companies have expressed alarm at the idea of a new government-run insurance plan competing with private insurers.

But House Democrats are not backing down. “A lot of people don’t care whether it’s Medicare, Medicaid, public or private,” said Mr. Rangel, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “They just want to know they can get affordable health care.”

For those at home more taken by the substance of what is said (thank you, Mr. Rangel) than the ceremony, let's just recap.

House. Healthcare. Committee. Reps: Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means.

The representatives' combined 100 years and such is neat and all, but I'm more impressed with the numerology that neatly coincides with the president's agenda. From the campaign trail, we heard that America must focus on energy, health care, and education, in that order. By September the financial collapse overshadowed everything, and Obama fit the three planks of his campaign into a broader context of fixing the economy. Today, the Times reports that the House chairmen of the committees related to the issues that comprised the president's agenda will work together to put legislation before the president by August. That's some sweet jam.

Granted, all those committees are dual in nature. So George Miller, as the Times points out, has some sway over employee benefits in addition to education legislation. Miller's not simply involved on account of his chairmanship of the education half things and the fact that Obama has plans for education reform. There's a direct relationship between health care reform and employee/employer relations in this country. On the whole, though, one has to assume so much early collaboration among ranking House representatives bodes well. They stand to bring a lot of people with them.

I don't want to get gushy before we see what happens. This is politics, after all. Probably, we'll end up with a watered-down version of reform that only lays the groundwork for the comprehensive health care reform that Americans are desperate for. Such is the nature of the beast. But laying the groundwork is also essential, as long as we don't stop there.

On a side note: All this House camaraderie this morning makes me wonder: Is anyone still asking whether Rahm Emanuel is the right guy for the COS job?