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Signs of Health Care Progress

Why is Murtha Lowering Expectations?

A quick survey of today’s news brings some encouraging signs for those who support choice in health care. First, CNN reports that Nancy Pelosi’s most trusted ally has moved dramatically off message:

Speaking in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, Murtha said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted a health-care bill passed before the current August recess.

“She said we’re going to have it before we left,” Murtha said. “We said, ‘No, no, we want some time to think about this.’ We’re taking some time to make sure it’s done right. I don’t know that we’ll get something done before January, and even then we may not get it done. We’re going to do it right when it’s finally done…”

Some town hall meetings on health care have erupted in emotional and angry debate, and Murtha said such a response is natural in uncertain times such as the current economic recession.

“I understand why they’re against it — they’re worried it’s going to harm their health care,” he said. “But we’re going to work it out.”

Murtha is Pelosi’s right-hand man. If he’s trying to be seen as opposed to her plans, it’s a sign that Democratic leaders recognize the unpopularity of the president’s health care agenda. Alternately, it might be an admission that the schedule is going to ‘slip’ further. If Murtha’s acting with Pelosi’s blessing, it suggests she doesn’t expect action for several months. Either way, it’s encouraging to the president’s opponents.

In other news, Kent Conrad says that he opposes a government-run plan, wants the timetable slowed down, and will oppose coverage for abortion:

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. presented his cooperative health care proposal here Thursday and told an audience of 100 that he would not vote for a government-run health care program…

The proposal has received bipartisan support for several reasons, he said. The cooperative would offer a non-profit insurance option to compete with private health care. It would not be government run, he said.

Individuals, families and small business owners could stick with their current provider, or they could opt for the cooperative plan…

[Conrad] said he and the Senate Finance Committee have yet to submit a final proposal. The proposal needs more time and shouldn’t be rushed, he said.

President Barack Obama had originally set an August deadline for the House and Senate to pass health care reform. That target is too rushed, Conrad said.

“I don’t think an arbitrary timetable fits with an issue of this complexity,” he said.

Conrad said he would not vote for any health care reform that funded abortions, care for illegal immigrants or a plan that mandates end-of-life counseling.

As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Conrad plays a critical role in how the Senate considers health care reform. Notably, he’ll be responsible for anything that winds up in the reconciliation package – the fallback for Democrats if they can’t get 60 votes for their health care agenda.

This comes on top of the declaration by Representative Heath Shuler that he opposes the House Democrat health care bill.

The battle over Obamacare is far from being won, but it’s clear that opponents are winning right now. The lesson: keep doing what you’re doing! Call your Congressman, talk to your friends, show up at townhalls… your voice is being heard!

Cross-posted to theconservatives.com

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