Sunday, 21 February 2010

Remember That Health Care Thing?

So, I've been very quiet about healthcare for a while. That seemed only reasonable, since the Democrats have been very quiet about healthcare for a while too.

I think it's important to bear that silence in mind when reading this. We should also note that whatever else he is, Harry Reid is a deeply cautious Majority Leader. It seems close to unbelievable that he would say this without the necessary senate votes, especially after how angry he reportedly was after being punked by Lieberman. It's certainly possible that he's doing this to embarrass recalcitrant Senators into doing the right thing, but I'd say that was a pretty risky move for anyone, and far more risky by what seems to be Reid's standards.

So I'm far more optimistic today than I have been since Coakley managed to screw the entire country with her disinterested, whiny petulance ("Me? A politician? Canvass support by talking to peasants in snowstorms?"). In fact, more confident than I was before the Massachusetts debacle, since I never believed the process of combining the House and Senate bills would go even remotely smoothly once it became clear that we would have to deal with Stupak, Lieberman and Nelson being pricks all at the same time. [1]

In other words, I think there's a case to be made that persuading 50 Senators to use reconciliation after Masachusetts might actually be easier than persuading 60 of them to just not be dicks all the time. How Pelosi is swinging this in the House, though, and how it all slots in with reports that the White House is releasing its own bill, I have no idea.

I guess we're about to find out.

[1] Yes, I've added Nelson to the prick file. I was willing to grant him some slack on the grounds that I could understand his objections to abortion even if I don't agree with him. Then I remembered how transparent the bribe he was given to vote yes was, though, and realised it's pretty hard to respect a man who claims abortion is murder but is willing to put up with it so long as his state gets more money. You can claim that reducing abortion is more important than saving lives and just be wrong. You can't claim reducing arbortion is more important than saving lives but less important than your state getting tax exemptions for its insurance companies.

(Incidentally, I think that article is worth reading in full. I don't know whether Publius is right or not that the bill is the most corrupt in history, but I can believe it. The problem with Publius's outrage is that in America's political landscape, any legislation above the level of fine-tuning will be either corrupt or DOA. And Citizens United means it's only going to get worse.)


Tomsk said...

How does this square with Obama launching his own plan?

Senior Spielbergo said...

Mehinks Obama's own plan is more to attempt to show publicly how this can't be a bipartisan venture thus the only option is pushing it through reconciliation...

SpaceSquid said...

From what I can gather, Obama's plan is essentially his own attempt to combine the House and Senate bills. If I'm understanding correctly, the idea is that proposing this bill, the House can pass the Senate bill, the Senate can reconciliation to pass the changes the House demands, and the White House bill will smooth things out further.

I'm not sure what Obama knows that we don't, since one assumes his version will die just as hard as the the combined bill would do, but I presume either a) this is just a pre-summit maneouvre simply designed to ensure he's putting in the public effort the Senate and House have both been demanding, or b) they expect to do so much damage on Wednesday that they can persuade some Republicans to vote for the White House bill.

Option b) seems like a Hail Mary pass, to put it politely, but I can't deny that it technically has a better chance than passing the current bill through the Senate, because the Republicans haven't spent a year swearing it's the worst thing in the history of human events. That would give at least some minimal cover for someone like Olympia Snowe (and I'd bet all the money in my pockets that that's who this is aimed at) to vote for it, which is never going to happen with the current bill. Obama could spend the entire summit showing videos of Republicans supporting each part of the current bill before it was crafted, and they still wouldn't vote for it, because they've persuaded too many of their followers that it's the first step on the slide into Nazism.

So at worst, we're no worse off. At medium, the White House's effort might shore up wobbling Democrats in either chamber. And at best, the White House bill actually passes, though GOP oppposition to everything is so unthinking these days that I doubt it.