Health Care Wait

The daily wait for cost estimates out of the Congressional Budget Office on Democratic health care plans has taken on an almost comical air in the halls of the Capitol, as every day brings promises of a bill and then rumors of further delay.

"I hear it's coming out tomorrow," said a smiling Sen. Jeff Bingamann (D-NM) of the budget review from the CBO.

That statement set off a murmur amongst reporters just off the Senate floor, as we then mobbed Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), who was part of the now-forgotten Gang Of Six health care negotiations from earlier this Summer.

"I've gotten their full report," deadpanned Conrad, which caused a few mouths to drop open in the scrum, before the Democrat said he had no idea what was in the bill or the cost estimates.

"I know nothing, I've seen nothing, I've heard nothing," said Conrad.

"I find that hard to believe," said one reporter to the Budget Chair.

"It's true."

Not long after that, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wasn't filling in the blanks for reporters either, raising questions about whether Democrats would really start a debate this week on health care legislation or not.

Even the insider publications focused on Capitol Hill had no insight to offer.

With nothing new, I chatted with my long time colleague Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press about the health care story.

We met well over 20 years ago while covering the impeachment trial of then Federal Judge, and now Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), and have seen a few things since then in the halls of Congress.

We both agreed that the best thing about this health care debate is that no one knows how it's going to turn out.

And that is a rarity when it comes to covering the Congress.

Stay tuned.

About the Author