Tuesday’s Headlines: Democrats May Drop Medicare Buy-in From Health Bill

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.; Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

–Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Harry Reid, D-Nev., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., make brief statements Monday evening at the Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

Monday, it was Wall Street executives who made the trip to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama about economic recovery. Tuesday, it’s Senate Democrats who will travel to the White House for talks with the president about a strategy for passing health care reform before Christmas.

Democrats appear set to drop part of a compromise plan worked out between 10 moderate and liberal senators last week that would have expanded Medicare to people between the ages of 55 and 64. But after Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., raised objections to the proposal, the Democratic caucus met Monday evening and decided the dispute over Medicare should not hold up legislation.

“The general consensus was we shouldn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., told reporters following Monday’s closed-door meeting.

Senate aides told the Wall Street Journal that Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., believed Lieberman would support the Medicare expansion, given he had suggested giving people over the age of 55 an option to buy into Medicare early during a September interview with the Connecticut Post. Now, “Many Democrats say they have given up trying to divine the motivations of Mr. Lieberman,” according to the New York Times.

At today’s White House meeting, President Obama is expected to stress this may be the last chance for health care reform. Despite White House pressure, Republicans are urging the majority party to slow down action on legislation, contending it will hurt the economy.

“Whether expansion of Medicare is in or out…doesn’t affect the core problem with this legislation, which is that it does not reduce costs,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the Senate floor Monday.

Ultimately, the fate of health care reform will likely hang on one question, writes Gerald Seib in today’s Wall Street Journal: “Will Democrats conclude they are better off passing a highly controversial bill than passing nothing at all? Most likely, the answer to that question is yes.” Or, as Timoth Noah puts it in Slate, something is better than nothing. No matter how you look at it, it’s looking more and more likely that that something will not include a public option or the Medicare buy-in.

  *   The Obama administration will move a step closer to closing the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, as [it is scheduled to announce](http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tue-tab-thomson-15dec15,0,5054354.story) Tuesday that the federal government will acquire an underutilized prison in rural Illinois to house suspected terrorists currently being held at Gitmo. Officials [had been examining](http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism/july-dec09/michigan_09-01.html) the possibility of transferring Guantanamo inmates to a prison in Michigan.   *   At the international [climate summit in Copenhagen](http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/july-dec09/copenhagen_12-14.html), China and the United States are at [an impasse](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/science/earth/15climate.html) over how compliance with any treaty could be monitored and verified.   *   [Computer technicians have uncovered](http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121436112) 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive said Monday they were settling the lawsuits they filed against the Executive Office of the President in 2007 over the failure to install an electronic record-keeping system.   *   The [Federal Open Market Committee begins](http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a_.PPhXquoVI&pos=6) its final meeting of 2010 in Washington today and is expected to repeat its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for an “extended period.”