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Wsj: Health Care Reform Is On Deck

Amid the hoopla over the Inauguration Tuesday, a lot of people probably missed the Wall Street Journal story about Barack Obama's presidency and the fiscal challenges he'll face. And, in many ways, it was a fairly straightforward primer on the challenges of fulfilling Obama's ambitious spending proposals at a time of rising deficits.

But the article also included this genuinely newsworthy item:

The incoming administration plans to move fast on his proposal to overhaul the health-care system, with a major event at the White House, likely in March, two Obama officials said. There, members of Congress and interest groups will hold a working session of sorts to launch the debate. ...

Mr. Emanuel declined to say whether the new White House wants Congress to deal with health care or climate change first, though another transition official said the assumption is that health care will top the agenda.  

Obama always said he'd launch his reform effort with such an event. More important, this is just the latest sign that the new administration sees health care as next on the agenda once the debate over the economic stimulus debate is done.

Of course, that doesn't settle the question of how the administration plans to deal with health care. Will it seek legislation designed to achieve universal coverage (or something very close to it)?  Or will it try to achieve universal coverage sequentially? (And if it's the latter, what will the sequence be?)

By the way, one of the reporters who wrote this story is Laura Meckler, recently assigned by the Journal to cover the White House beat. During the presidential race, Meckler covered domestic policy and covered it well. Based on what I read, her work was hands-down the best of the campaign--unfailingly smart, well-informed, and substantive. That's exactly the kind of sensibility we need, but rarely get, from White House reporters.

--Jonathan Cohn