Say Whaaaaaaaat?

From a debate at the National Press Club between former Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt and former HHS secretary nominee Tom Daschle, Washington, D.C.:

I'm not very good at taking pictures. Left to right: McClellan, Leavitt, Daschle.

I'm not very good at taking pictures. Left to right: McClellan, Leavitt, Daschle.

Tom Daschle says there is a “50-50” chance of passing a health reform bill this year.

Wait, what?

You read me right, folks: Former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, Tom ‘I’m-so-fancy,-I-wrote-the-book-on-health-reform…literally‘ Daschle, handpicked as HHS secretary by President Hope himself (before some tax issues forced Daschle to withdraw his nomination), has serious doubts about the passage of a comprehensive health reform bill in 2009. You could almost hear the collective “Oh No He Di-int!!” ringing in everyone’s thoughts as soon as he uttered the words: “50-50.”

Other than that, the meeting was ho-hum. Anybody who read my deathmatch post knows that I am seriously spoiling for a fight. (What can I say, I’m from Long Island.) And yesterday’s debate, moderated by the deliciously impish Mark McClellan, seemed like it was gonna be a doozie. I got to the Press Club an hour early, I was so excited. But just as the two heavy weights started to dance around the public plan issue, with Daschle insisting that a public plan offered yet another choice, and Leavitt maintaining that it would kill private options, McClellan intervened. Let ’em play, I say!

So: what do you think about this new hedge? And when am I gonna get to see some PUNCHES???

—Denise Napoli, on Twitter @denisenapoli, d.napoli@elsevier.com

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