Clearing the deck

CLEARING THE DECK…. We’re just about at the stage at which the health care debate starts crowding out practically every other domestic policy. That, at least, was the impression one got watching the White House this afternoon.

President Barack Obama says changes to the nation’s health systems are necessary and the window for overhaul will close when Congress breaks for summer vacation.

Obama met with lawmakers Tuesday at the White House. He told reporters at the start of the meeting that it makes no sense to add people to a broken system, so he wants to see costs controlled.

Obama says he wants broad action before Congress leaves for an August recess. He says this is a make-or-break moment for his priority.

This comes shortly after a report from The Hill which said Democratic leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue “are shoving aside issues that divide their party to clear the deck for healthcare reform, which is likely to dominate the rest of the legislative year.”

It also coincides with a new administration report that emphasizes the reform effort in the context of economic and fiscal concerns.

Slowing the growth in health-care spending from 6 percent a year to 4.5 percent would have enormous benefits for the nation’s economy, creating as many as 500,000 jobs a year and increasing annual income for the average family of four by $2,600 over the next decade, President Obama’s chief economic advisers said in a report released today.

In the report, the Council of Economic Advisers concludes that cutting costs while extending coverage to the 46 million people who lack health insurance would also dramatically improve the federal budget outlook, remove “unnecessary barriers” to job mobility and increase the nation’s overall economic well-being by “roughly” $100 billion a year.

Now all we need is an ambitious, comprehensive reform package with a public option to make these savings happen. Piece of cake.