Health Care: The Talking Points

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If the House does succeed in passing this health care bill, that’s a big step. But it is just the beginning of the battle for many members.

The next thing the Democrats will have to do is convince a very divided and skeptical public that they did the right thing. We were reminded of how difficult that can be by Marjorie Margolies, who reflected here in Swampland last week on the difficult vote that she cast for the Clinton economic plan in 1993–a vote that ended her political career. “I was really good at the four-minute explanation when I went back back to the district,” she said. “But it’s the Frank Luntz 30 seconds that kills you.”

With that in mind, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already begun to prepare its most vulnerable incumbents for what may lie ahead. As Politico first reported, the DCCC has sent out a memo with suggested talking points. A copy of that memo was sent to freshman and sophomore members’ district directors, along with an accompanying Power Point that was put together by the White House. Here is the memo:

Hi all –

Attached and below are some good resources to get through the health care push next week.

Here is my best guess on timeline but as always this is Congress so it could all change very quickly:

TODAY or MONDAY: CBO will publish final scores on legislative language

THEN: House Budget Committee must approve using the reconciliation process to pass this

THEN: The bill will go to the Rules Committee, rule will be constructed for consideration on the floor, and language will be posted online (on the Rules website) and the 72-hour clock will start. When this happens, we will start to have a better idea on what the process will be.

THEN: A Manager’s Amendment will be constructed that will make some final changes

THEN: The Manager’s Amendment will be posted online and the 72-hour clock will start (this may overlap with the 72-hour clock on the reconciliation language). When Manager’s Amendment is done final process decisions will be locked in.

THIS MEANS: We will likely vote Friday or Saturday. (As you probably saw, POTUS pushed back the departure for his Asian trip from Thursday the 18th to Sunday the 21st; this was not a coincidence.) The Speaker has publically committed to trying to get a vote on both the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill on the same day. They are still trying to work out the final process on this and much of what we do depends on what the Senate Parliamentarian decides. You may be receiving calls about the “Slaughter Rule” and other rumors about what the process will be. Again, please understand: no decision has yet been made on the process for consideration on the House floor.

Key points:

1. I would have your Member’s schedule pretty clear for next weekend. They will either be here or exhausted (or both).

2. I would continue to encourage all of you not to get into debates about process and to try and persuade your Member not to get into process arguments either. At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off and have a vote — up or down; yes or no? Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL. People who try and start arguments about process on this are almost always against the actual policy substance too, often times for purely political reasons.

3. Finally, I encourage you to study the final attached slide (#14) and give some thought to what your plan is post-vote, especially during Easter Work Period. If your Member is a yes, or might be a yes, I would lay the groundwork for some events to highlight the reforms that will quickly become law – no more donut hole, dependent children covered until 26, insurance access for those with pre-existing conditions, etc.

UPDATE: This is slide #14: