Unlikely Saviors

Could Rahm Have Saved Health Care?

Opinion is split on Rahm Emanuel: Liberals say he led Obama astray, while centrists say Obama hasn’t listened to him enough—particularly on health care, where Rahm is said to have advocated a more incrementalist approach. But a scoop from Noam Scheiber in The New Republic cuts across both groups’ assumptions: Last summer, Rahm encouraged President Obama to find a way to bypass Max Baucus’ Senate Finance Committee to get health-care reform on the Senate floor. Obama chose to let Baucus negotiate—a process that took months (and, if it had gone more quickly, Congress would likely have passed health-care reform before Scott Brown’s election through a wrench in the wheels). Other news in the piece: Rahm wanted Obama to make Larry Summers Treasury Secretary, and he was not allowed to choose his own deputies.