Archive for February 25th, 2010
This post contains only my initial thoughts at what I saw of the summit (though I was at the dentist for a part of the summit, which made it difficult to hear). I don’t really feel like going over the whole thing because it was mostly people spitting out their preferred talking points. There were some attempts to respond to opposing sides’ criticisms, but not a lot. I may post more on this eventually, but for now this is what I am thinking.
The narrative that is developing and was greatly strengthened by the summit and its coverage is that Obama has a few options. He can: 1. “Jam” a comprehensive plan through 2. Start small by passing Republican ideas and hope more reforms come 3. Start from scratch and try again.
Option 3 is out. We’ve wasted over a year talking about this, and it doesn’t make sense to start over again. Most likely the next debate would look nearly the same.
Option 2 is improbable. What would it say if we elect a Democratic president, Democratic House, and Democratic Senate hoping for reform only to see them cave and pass Republican legislation?
Option 1 may happen. Obama pretty much told Republicans they can get on board and try helping shape the legislation but they better hurry because reform is coming, whether with them or through reconciliation.
So, the Republicans have a few options. They can: 1. Get on board and help shape the policy 2. Get out of they way.
I am excited to see the reactions to this. Republicans are in a tough spot. If they take option 2, they can simply continue trashing reform, but they’ve been doing that for a very long time. They won’t be doing anything new if they continue to pursue this path. It will advance the notion that Republicans are a party of NO and not a party of solutions.
They could also take option 1 and try and enact some change they would like to see. I’m not a huge fan of tort reform as Republicans see it, but a lot of Democrats are open to it. They could get some of their reform ideas in and seem like they are actually trying to come up with solutions. They could also tell their constituents that reform was going to pass with or without them, so it only made sense to work on it and try and improve it.
But if they take option 1, they will be aiding Obama in that he will pass health reform and it will be bipartisan. This seems unlikely. Their goal has always been making Obama look like a failure.
If they take option 2, Obama and Democrats could still push through reform. If this happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a public option attached (my fingers are crossed). This would be a smart move for Democrats because it would bring their base back on board. A majority of Americans still support the public option. If this bill passes and America gets behind it, the Republicans would look bad.
Of course, there is also a good chance that there will just be a continuation of business as usual. Today got me excited that Democrats are finally going to sack up, but I’ve been fooled before. I don’t think Republicans will suddenly change their minds, and I am unconvinced that Democrats will risk something supposedly unpopular as reconciliation (as if the public knows about reconciliation when in 2007 31% didn’t know who the V.P. was). Democrats have a habit of overestimating how much their base cares about bipartisanship. If you ask me, we want results.
Enjoy Archer tonight. We can’t let it get canceled.
Tomorrow is the big health care summit, and there is a lot riding on it.
If Obama is able to get some steam going and the Democrats pass a solid bill, the Democrats’ odds in November will look much better. If Republicans stop reform, Obama and Democrats look bad, aiding their chances.
This is the most frustrating part of the whole thing. We actually need reform but there is incentive for Republicans to try and stop anything the Democrats do. They’ve set it up so they can never agree with Obama or work with him lest they look like hypocrites or commies.
This is a pretty good preview of what will transpire tomorrow and what Obama can do to make reform more likely. Leonhardt thinks Obama would have a better chance if he adopted some Republican ideas into the bill. If they will actually help, I’m all for it. But I don’t think he can count on getting Republican votes no matter what at this point.
If you haven’t seen the plan Obama unveiled, check it out here. This plan is the administration’s attempt to bridge the gap between the bills of the House and Senate.
Enjoy some coming fireworks.
Glenn Greenwald yet again has a solid article. This one is about the game some Democrats are playing.
The example he uses is provided by Jay Rockefeller. Rockefeller said in the past that he would fight for a public option because it is the right thing. “I will not relent on that. That’s the only way to go.” He said that.
But he said this when it passing the public option seemed impossible. It was a way for him to appease liberals while not actually doing anything.
Now there is a chance to do something. Through reconciliation Democrats could avoid a filibuster and pass reform with a public option. Guess what Rockefeller says now: “I don’t think the timing of it is very good. I’m probably not going to vote for that.”
Greenwald has an imaginary conversation that sort of sums up what is frustrating about the whole deal:
Progressives: We want a public option!
Democrats/WH: We agree with you totally! Unfortunately, while we have 50 votes for it, we just don’t have 60, so we can’t have it. Gosh darn that filibuster rule.
Progressives: But you can use reconciliation like Bush did so often, and then you only need 50 votes.
Filbuster reform advocates/Obama loyalists: Hey progressives, don’t be stupid! Be pragmatic. It’s not realistic or Serious to use reconciliation to pass health care reform. None of this their fault. It’s the fault of the filibuster. The White House wishes so badly that it could pass all these great progressive bills, but they’re powerless, and they just can’t get 60 votes to do it.
Progressives: Hey, great! Now that you’re going to pass the bill through reconciliation after all, you can include the public option that both you and we love, because you only need 50 votes, and you’ve said all year you have that!
Democrats/WH: No. We don’t have 50 votes for that (look at Jay Rockefeller). Besides, it’s not the right time for the public option. The public option only polls at 65%, so it might make our health care bill — which polls at 35% — unpopular. Also, the public option and reconciliation are too partisan, so we’re going to go ahead and pass our industry-approved bill instead . . . on a strict party line vote.
So when Dr asks why the polls are so low, I think this helps explain it. Liberal voters are starting to realize the game. We finally won and the winners promised to make a difference. We’ve gotten nothing but excuses in return.
Enjoy American hockey’s continued domination.
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