I was invited along with a small group of bloggers to meet with US House Speaker Pelosi this morning in the US Capital building to talk about health care reform. I’ll be adding my observations in a moment, but here’s what Greg Sargent is reporting:
In her most expansive case yet for health reform, Nancy Pelosi argued in a small roundtable with bloggers today that passing it into law would set the stage for a great, long-term debate with the GOP over the proper role of government in our lives — and predicted that it would “take the country in a new direction.”
Pelosi argued that passing reform would give Dems a tool for drawing a sharp ideological contrast with Republicans and conservatives over time.
“Give them credit for being true to their convictions,” Pelosi said. “They don’t believe in health care for all Americans with any public role in it. That’s by and large what the Republican Party believes.”
Pelosi said passing the bill would allow Dems to undertake a “debate” with Republicans over “what is the balanced role that government should have.”
“We have to take it to the American people, to say, this is the choice that you have,” she said. “This is the vision that they have for your health and well being, and this is the vision that we have.”
Here’s what Brian Beutler of TPM reported:
Pelosi avoided delving deeply into postmortems–Why didn’t the public option survive? What should have been done differently?–but she did suggest, at a couple different points, that the White House was not a perfect ally in this fight.
“There will be plenty of time for whatever–in the executive and the legislative branch–as to how [the public option] evolved to what it is now,” Pelosi said, suggesting that some fault lies with the White House.
Equally vexing for her have been elements in the White House who urged her to revert to a strategy of passing a small–rather than comprehensive–health care bill. “Those who are trying to say ‘just do a small bill,’” Pelosi said gesturing out the window of her office, westward toward the White House. “In our midst there’s the small bill crowd. Here and there. And that empowered [the insurance companies].”
And that’s to say nothing about the White House/PhRMA deal.”If you’re asking me were we unhappy about the pharmaceutical thing?” Pelosi asked rhetorically. “Yes. Very. But apart from that, I don’t know what else they’ve done with industry….We just thought, Wait a minute, the Senate and the White House and PhRMA made a deal, and we have to honor that?”