Discussing health care reform today on Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough and NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd agreed that "[t]his week has been a mess for the Democrats." Todd added that "it does seem like they decided to take two steps back after they took one step forward because now they got a trillion dollar bill in the House, which is about $150 billion more than they said, than the President said that he wanted, and now they've got to have this back and forth and figure out how to get six to 10 moderate Democrats and Olympia Snowe on board."
I'm going to have to respectfully disagree that the past week was "a mess for the Democrats." Speaker Pelosi reported out a full House bill, the American Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3962), that achieves a number of key fiscal goals that only this summer many in the media were insisting were out of reach. The Congressional Budget Office found that the bill reduces the deficit by $104 billion over the next decade, and continues to chip away at it in the subsequent decade. Plus it comes in under the magic $900 billion number for the net cost of coverage expansion over 10 years -- a cost that is, in CBO's words, "more than offset." And these achievements are doubly important because they satisfy President Obama's must-have requirement that reform "[w]on't add a dime to the deficit."
If anything, all of this adds up to a big step forward -- arguably a bigger one than has ever taken to achieve comprehensive health care reform in this country.