Free Markets, Free People

Today’s Democrat healthcare strategy: Waiting until their opponents calm down [with update]

As noted in other posts, the Democrats have mostly given up on some kind of cram-it-down-the-throat option for healthcare legislation. They’re going to seat Scott Brown, and various Democrats such as Barney Frank have noticed that trying to outmanuveur the Republicans with tricks smacks of desperation, not to mention setting themselves up to get slaughtered in the fall.

So what is their strategy at this point? I’m not sure it’s well thought out, but from what I can tell, it’s simply this: wait for the furor to die down, and get back to business as usual. At least among the leaders, there’s no indication that they’ve given up.

For example, Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate version in the House. Nevertheless, her bottom line is still “We have to get a bill passed….” And then she follows that up with “We’re in no rush.” She must therefore feel that slowing down at this point has better chances than to keep pressing the urgency button.

As another example, here’s Obama in the New York Times (found via The Corner):

“Well, if you’ve got insurance companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars scaring the daylights out of people into thinking that somehow this is a government takeover of health care, that it’s unpaid for, that it means huge new taxes on them, that it’s going to mean higher premiums — if that’s the information you’re getting, shoot, I’d be against it, too,” the president told me. “Once this thing is passed and signed, then suddenly The New York Times and other newspapers are going to have a big article saying what does this mean for you, and people will take a look at it and say, ‘You know what, this is a lot better deal than I thought.’ And I think that will serve Harry very well.”

This is either delusional or outright lying. It is a large expansion of government control of healthcare, it could very well lead to a takeover (and various Democrats have admitted that), it isn’t paid for, it probably does mean higher premiums for many, especially those with so-called Cadillac plans, and it does mean a new tax because the penalty for not satisfying the mandate has been classified as a tax.

If Obama really believes what he says above, then he’s trying to play a longer term game of letting the dust settle and hoping against hope that the natural attraction of many people for something-for-nothing will kick in. I don’t see how that works; if his umptyump speeches so far have not gotten his message across, what hope does he have of doing it now, when opinions have mostly solidified?

The waiting game also carries huge risk for Democrats. The longer the healthcare game plays out, the closer we are to the elections and the more anger they are likely to engender in the electorate. With Brown’s election plus miscellaneous sudden retirements, it’s already apparent that incumbent Democrats are in big trouble. Do the Democratic leaders think it just can’t get much worse? I think it can.

Perhaps the go-slow game has become their default strategy because Obama and company have no good options at this point. Obama first squandered much political capital by passing a leftist and highly political response to economic problems in the form of the stimulus widely referred to as Porkulus. Then he squandered the attention span of the electorate by over-exposing himself with lackluster speeches about his desired laws, chiefly healthcare. Then he shattered the image of some kind of magical touch by gambling and losing twice in Copenhagen and once in Massachusetts.

One year ago Obama was almost a blank slate. He could have defined himself just about any way he wanted, riffing off his generic hope/change mantra.

He chose to define himself as a vigorous proponent of policies far left to those of the typical American. He inadvertantly defined himself as someone prone to wild gambles because he has no better ideas on how to get what he wants.

Anyone who works in marketing will tell you that it’s ten times as hard to change an existing perception of a product or service as it is to establish a new reputation for something previously unknown. That dynamic works in politics too. Obama is now defined in the public’s eye. Changing his own image in any signficant way is very, very hard, and perhaps impossible for someone as out of touch as he appears to be. Therefore his ability to bend the healthcare debate in his direction looks to me to be just about nil.

I conclude that:

1. The Democrats have indeed decided to go slower on healthcare, simply because they’ve had their face rubbed in the fact that the level of anger and pushback right now is too high to overcome.

2. They have not given up; they truly believe it’s the key to their long-term dominance of the electorate.

3. They don’t have a clue what to do with the current level of anger, and they were caught flat-footed by Brown’s victory.

4. The best they can think of is just to wait, hoping for the anger to die down and some tactic to become apparent that will allow them to move foreward.

5. That strategy is almost certain to fail, and carries grave risk for them.

We’re seeing Democrats like Evan Bayh start feeling out the options for walking back on healthcare, and by extension on other leftist causes such as cap-and-trade. It will only take a few such high-profile defections to begin a rush to the exits. At that point, Obama and Pelosi can be as delusional as they like, but they’ll just end up sitting around making up strategies they don’t have the ability to carry out.

** Update 2:04 PM CST **

Robert Gibb verifies that go-slow is now the current strategy for the Democrats:

Asked today if health care was on the back burner, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “The president believes it is the exact right thing to do by giving this some time, by letting the dust settle, if you will, and looking for the best path forward.”

41 Responses to Today’s Democrat healthcare strategy: Waiting until their opponents calm down [with update]

  • Obviously they have to pick off a RINO or two.
    That comment last week by Harry Reid that the time they spent wooing Olympia Snowe was a “waste of time” certainly doesn’t look helpful about now.

    • This may be old but this morning …

      A well-informed source tells The Mouth Nancy Pelosi is set to announce the House will go the reconciliation route on health care reform.

      Update: A second source confirms that Pelosi is presenting a reconciliation plan to the caucus, and making sure they go with something that can actually pass.

  • It’s become a truism that there is agreement in Washington on 80% of the changes needed to reform the health care system. A rational President would attempt to define that 80% and work with leaders in both parties to craft the appropriate legislation. Since that does not appear to be what will happen, I have to conclude that it’s not true.

    • Agreed.

      At one time, before the Tea Party folks changed the game, I think there was agreement in the ranks of establishment DC politicians (of both parties) at least in the 60% range. There were some Republicans ready to give the Democrats some changes on healthcare that would have been unthinkable twenty years ago. But even the mushy establishment Republicans were not silly enough to go along with Obama’s complete redefinition, and now they have been given, ah, encouragement to avoid giving away much of anything, lest they themselves get caught up in anti-incumbent anger.

  • This is them pretending they’re going to be reasonable, that’s all.
    Cue the raving left wing of the Democratic party – time for piranha frenzy.
    And President Imeme? – business as usual.  No leadership and, thank God, no progress.

  • There are several reason why a Healthcare slowdown could assist the Dems. 

    First, their trying to push through a major policy change in the face of an economic downturn.  Even a blind man can understand the public’s angst regarding the current economy and especially the jobs situation.  To counter this and make it look like they are answering the public’s call, they will push through a series of small measures up to and including another Mini-Porkulous in order to spur growth.   Rationale:  As things inprove, anger at the Dems will subside because of their proactive economic efforts and a more reasonable electorate will be more willing to listen to their side of the story.

    Second:  They need time to cultivate that vulnerable RINO or two – Voinovich, Snowe, or (fill in the blank).  Once they have quietly put these folks in their hip pockets, they can begin to raise the stakes a notch at a time – pushing the Republicans to come to the negotiating table, fully aware they will give up nothing but try and to start shifting the electorate’s anger from them to the obstructionist R’s.

    Third, they need to take Health Care off the front page for a short timeframe.  This could be a few days or a few weeks in order to craft a newer, more better message for the folks.  They need more and better management of the message – as if virtual co0ntrol of MSM has not helped them to date.  To them it is not a problem with the message, it is a problem with how it is received.  They need time to change the collective electorate’s ear.

    • … or instead of having HCR end with a bang, they just want it to whimper away.

    • The public is most concerned about unemployment and to a lesser extent the deficit.

      If the democrats want to turn this around they must abandon HCR and forsake Cap & Trade until the economy recovers.  They should also cut their spending and extend the Bush tax cuts.  It would be smart to look at the excessive regulation the Feds are imposing.
      Once small businesses can project their labor and energy costs and do not have to compete with the government for capital, they will invest in jobs.

  • No no no.  You just dont get it.  Brown won because the folks in Mass were ticked off that Obama didnt go far enough left.

    He has to go farther left for everyone to love him. 

    If you dont believe me just go ask the Kos kiddies and DU folks.  They will tell you.

    I just want Obama to take their advice.  Keep going farther left.  PLEASE.

  • There is an obvious reason to go slow.
    Instead of taking this as a loss for the Democrats, they want to position this as the Republicans killing it

    • And the public seems to be fine with that idea

    • What?  they already HAVE been positioning the entire failure to do anything last year as the fault of the Republicans “standing in the way” and “being the Party of No”.   They have majorities in both houses, overwhelming majorities, and yet they continue, and the media continues, to emphasis that the Republicans haven’t been going along, and have been opposing their activities, as if it mattered, legislatively, what the Republicans did.    Like some kid who has his own house  and keeps pretending the reason he hasn’t painted the walls of his living room purple is because his parents won’t let him.
      Truth of the matter is, they’re led by idiots who couldn’t pour piss out a boot with the instructions written on the heel.  If nothing else proves that Obama is NOT a leader of any kind, this last year is mint level proof – he had control of the White House, the Senate, The House of Representatives, and STILL couldn’t get jack diddly done.  The only reason for that is that he doesn’t have a CLUE what he’s doing, and neither do the small time thugs he brought with him from Chicago or the tenured idiots who lead the Houe and Senate.  Don’t misunderstand, I”m THRILLED about the whole thing, and will remain so, until some real thugs cause trouble in the world and these dressed up boobs are the ones we have to rely on to deal with it.

  • Between the restoration of the filibuster and the SCOTUS decision to gut McCain-Feingold, this has been a good week for people who  value their freedom

  • Brown won by avoiding anger.   The Massachusetts election is a sign to Republicans: stop with the silly “teaparty” rhetoric that only encourages the extremist base, and make a clear, positive message that acknowledges the need to solve problems and work together.  Brown won over many Democrats because he was not the “angry Republican,” but a rational, cooperative one.  Anger did not drive the Massachusetts electorate, rather a desire for someone who seems independent and able to work to solve problems.  Brown is a New England Republican.   I suspect it won’t be long until some of you start cursing at him as a “RINO.”

    • Brown won BECAUSE of anger Scott.

      • No, he didn’t.  Look at how he ran his campaign.  He had a positive message, said good things about Obama, and avoided negativity.  If the GOP thinks the electorate is angry and veering hard right, if they embrace the ‘teaparty’ extremists, then they’ll risk a big win in 2010.  They need to embrace a positive view of change and problem solving, not angry rhetoric.  Only the fringe is angry.

    • I knew you couldn’t stay away, Scott. Your psychological craving for people to talk down to is entirely too strong.

      • Talk down to?   You imagine too much.

        • Heh. I’ll let our readers decide that one. I’m sure they’ll take into account your previous description of this blog as “inbred and sterile”, “mindless”, and “just propaganda”, and your characterizing a post here as “This wild conspiracy theory in denial of hard science is so over the top it reminds me of Nazi theories about the Jews wanting to take over everything.”

          Odd, isn’t it, that given how you feel in your own words, you just can’t seem to stay away? I think we all understand your psychology better than you do yourself.

          • So Scott, is the global warming science still “settled”?

          • Well, gee, leave it up to your readers, eh?   An unbiased crowd, I suppose?  Sorry if you felt insulted, sometimes I can word things a bit too provocatively.   When one starts talking as if the world’s scientists are all in on some conspiracy, that does remind me of third Reich propaganda.  But yeah, I was disgusted by the article and probably over reacted.  Don’t take it personally, that’s typical in blog world.

          • Well, gee, leave it up to your readers, eh?   An unbiased crowd, I suppose?

            I don’t know about unbiased, but at least I respect their intelligence. Unlike someone who considers them “inbred and sterile” and “mindless”.

            As for the rest of your comment, trying to gently walk it all back, eh? Face it: You can’t stay away because you crave coming here and lecturing us, and in a moment of pique you threw it away. So now you have to come up with some BS thing about how you really didn’t mean it. Well, for a moment you exposed your true take on this place, and it’s on record.

            So I get to call you the liar you are, with chapter and verse, any time I feel like it.

    • Scott.
      Have you been to a Tea Party?

    • “I suspect it won’t be long until some of you start cursing at him as a “RINO.””
      And as with so many of your other predictions, this too will most likely prove wrong.
      In any event, couldn’t be worse than a Maine Republican now, could he.

    • “Brown won over many Democrats because he was not the “angry Republican,” but a rational, cooperative one.”

      So Brown’s campaign slogan of “I am the 41st vote against ObamaCare” was just campaign rhetoric?  You have been away Erb but you haven’t changed much.  You are still a putz!

      Small Steps, there Erb!

    • As Sshiell said, Brown made it a point to present himself as a roadblock to passage of the health care reform packages passed by the House and Senate.  Thus it’s not reasonable to think that the election was not a repudiation of Obamacare.  If Democrats don’t take that lesson to heart, they will simply make things worse for themselves.
      As for the topic, I think that any Democrat who talks of pushing health care reform to the back burner (as if for a cooling off period) has given up on it, and is in the process of trying to help bury it.  I don’t think that either the House or Senate, in either its current lineup or the one that will be in place after the midterms, will find sufficient common ground to pass health care reform.  There are too many issues (funding abortions, the public option, tort reform, paying for it all) that are required for one party’s approval but are also unacceptable to the other party.  Pushing it aside to allow calmer heads to prevail will not change that.
      I think that this is where “James Marsden” comes in and takes a bow.  He called this months ago, and it looks like it’s happened.  Health care reform is dead, and all we’re doing is holding a mirror to its face to verify the fact.

  • In response to the terrorist attack on New York a week ago which killed 2 million people WH spokesman Robert Gibbs had this to say at today’s press conference  “, “The president believes it is the exact right thing to do by giving this some time, by letting the dust settle, if you will, and looking for the best path forward.””

    Sounds about right.

  • Reagen got his agenda passed with dems holding control of the house and the Senate.

    Obama cant pass major parts of his agenda even with supermajorities. 

    Obama is a naive socialist waif.

    • Reagan was not Obama.  Also, he was dealing with a more rational group of democrats than we have today.  Scoop Jackson, Sam Nunn, John Stennis and Fritz Hollings would never have supported the radical agenda Obama is pushing.  They were adults who tried to act in our national interest.  I cannot say the same for Reid, Schumer, Dodd and Durbin.

  • Scott Erb

    “The Massachusetts election is a sign to Republicans: stop with the silly “teaparty” rhetoric that only encourages the extremist base, and make a clear, positive message that acknowledges the need to solve problems and work together.”

    Scott instead of telling the republicans what to do to get better how about talking to the dems.  You telling a republican what to do to try to improve is like a lion saying “if you pour steak sauce on your head, I wont eat you”.  Generally it isnt considered the best of advice to suceed.

    • Actually, my own blog post was directed as much at Democrats and Republicans.  Both parties have to stop playing silly games of trying to sell one ideological narrative over another, and instead compromise and problem solve.  The country is risking severe decline and crisis over the next few years, the health care crisis is foremost.   If our politicians play ‘politics as bloodsport’ and embrace anger left and right, then they’re essentially fiddling while Washington burns.

      • There’s the plug. Always with the blog  plug. Anywhoozle…

        Shark said:

        Brown won BECAUSE of anger Scott.”

        I don’t think Professor Plum realizes that Shark is talking about voter anger. Or he’s been ordered by the politburo and pravda to ignore it.

        How would Brown win because of anger? Let’s see…How about a candidate that couldn’t  lower herself to shake hands with all “the little people” at Fenway Park?

        Maybe it’s the fact that Federal condescension is p***ing  off  the voting populace. They’re worrying about their bills and whether they’ll have jobs. The president and congress tell them they’ll have to buy insurance or be penalized. And don’t worry, this Healthcare Reform is the most important all of your problems.  Not unemployment, not a man with explosives in his tighty whities on a plane while people are travelling home for the holidays, not anything the plebes might worry about. No, only Healthcare reform, which called for the cooperation of the Nebraska Whore and feverish sessions on Christmas Eve. A Healthcare reform bill that was previously so important that they were considering delaying Scott Brown’s instalment.

        Or maybe for Coakley deciding not to prosecute a cop who stuck a curling iron up a 23-month old child’s private parts?

        Or was it taking a caribbean vacation because she didn’t need to prove she was worthy of  Captain Chappaquidick’s seat? The plebes aren’t smart enough to know the difference.

        Was it maybe when Emperor Barakus Husseinius Obamanus Augustus, insulted just about every working man within earshot by picking on pick-up trucks? Because, like, only plebes drive them and would actually be proud of it?

        In the Conservatory, with the pipe wrench, Professor Plum said, “ They need to embrace a positive view of change and problem solving, not angry rhetoric.  Only the fringe is angry.”

        Really? Embrace a positive view of change when some Washington prostitute is p***ing on their leg and telling them its raining?

        Erb, this is the time for reasonable men to be angry.

        • Again, Brown didn’t push anger, but pragmatism.   I have a feeling he will be a positive force for the GOP.   But both parties should know by now that the public punishes them when they overshoot and become too partisan, the public wants problem solving.

          • Again, Brown didn’t push anger, but pragmatism. ”

            You’re talking out your Hoo-HAh.  What part of the voters were angry don’t you get? So, Brown didn’t “push” anger.  No one said he did, but you insist on repeating  it. Spare us the straw man lectures, Professor Plum.

            Anger got that man elected. Pure and simple. You’re as dense as all the pundits and apologists that insist that they just haven’t communicated the message correctly. Wrong. We get the message alright and we’re angry.

            Hope and Change may have swayed the mindless masses a year ago but Anger and Disillusionment carrried Scott Brown, whether he asked for it or not.

      • Erb:
        “Actually, my own blog post …”

        Cheap, tawdry, lame attempt to get someone to read your blog.

        “Both parties have to stop playing silly games of trying to sell one ideological narrative over another, and instead compromise and problem solve.”

        Compromise?  Why do the Dems need to compromise?  They have had a super-majority for a year.  Why haven’t they passed HCR by now?

        “The country is risking severe decline and crisis over the next few years, the health care crisis is foremost.”

        There is no “health care crisis” in this country, only in your mind.  The foremost reasons the country is risking severe decline over the next few years are:
             1.) Economic stagnation caused by increased taxation, increased government (deficit) spending, and increased government interference in private enterprise,
             2.) High unemployment caused by #1,
             3.) Inflationary monetary policy pursued by the Fed, and
             4.) The threat of terrorism in the face of a weak Administration that lacks the leadership to deal decisively with the problem.

        “…they’re essentially fiddling while Washington burns.”

        One can only hope.

  • As long as healthcare is tabled, it will be an issue in November.  The smart move would be to sit down and pass a real bill that solved the problems without nationalizing or imposing government control.

  • “The country is risking severe decline and crisis over the next few years, the health care crisis is foremost.”
    Further demonstration you don’t think for yourself Scott.  Enumerate the things that have suddenly made Health Care in the US a crisis.  Go ahead, tell us what has so drastically changed that suddenly it’s a crisis.  Feel free to link to some statistics that show a decline in our care from, say, I don’t know, 1985.    You don’t think for yourself Scott, you think what you’re told to think, and then you show up here and parrot what you’ve been told to believe.
    That you could even begin to argue that Health Care currently trumps the Economy is otherworldly, but in your case, not surprising.  And your analysis of the election in Massachusetts is off, as is your reading, continually, of where MAIN STREAM America is.  You have never gotten that  you are not in the main stream by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m sure I don’t intend that as a compliment.

    • Where to begin.   I’ll start personally.  My wife is a CPA who works in the health care field, and is working on an MBA for health care management.   I’ve been reading the material on her classes, and it’s shocking just how bad the situation is becoming.  I know you’ll reject a personal account, but it’s clear to me you haven’t looked into the issue.  You are probably one of those who thinks that since you’re covered OK now, there must be no problem.
      Insurance costs are skyrocketing, they’ve gone up over 110% since 1999, while income has increased by 34%.   Moreover, the current projection is that a family of four will pay $25,000 for insurance by 2016.   This means that people will pay an ever greater amount of the premium if they are covered by employers, and be increasingly priced out if they try to self-insure.   Insurance company overhead (including bonuses) is increasing dramatically, they have a good gig going for now.   45 million are uninsured, many more are under insured, or denied coverage for some technicality (insurance companies care not about the person, only the money) even if they think they are insured.
      Meanwhile, hospitals are suffering from having too many people unable to pay, and when the boomer generation starts retiring en masse, the system will break completely.    The last ten years of life are the most expensive, and when the boomers stop paying in and instead take out of the system, it will inevitably break — without major reform.
      I guarantee that within a decade or so, the question won’t be whether or not we should ration health care, but HOW to ration it.  The public is used to something for nothing.  Remember, back when the economy was booming in 2005-6 I was posting about the coming economic crisis, and the unsustainability of the bubble economy.   It wasn’t that I was smarter than everyone else, I just am critical enough not to follow the flow of what the media and the political pundits of either side of the issue say.  I looked at the reality, and saw a system near crisis, and a country on the verge of decline.   If you look at the health care issue now, honestly, you won’t be able to deny that there is a crisis.   You might think that the solution is state reform (Brown’s idea), national reform (Obama’s) or maybe a libertarian free market approach.  But to deny it’s a crisis?  The only way to do that is not to look at the evidence.

      • You mix private and GOVERNMENT insurance as if they are one and the same –
        “The last ten years of life are the most expensive, and when the boomers stop paying in and instead take out of the system, it will inevitably break — without major reform.”
        The ‘system’ – you mean the private system here Scott,or the Public one?  You’re shifting the pea under the shell the same as Imeme is doing.   The government is intruding to ‘save’ us, when there’s a bunch of us that don’t need saving, and we certainly are aware that any saving will not be coming from Washington (they have such a great track record so far…).   Insurers and private companies are reacting to the shinannegans in Washington and that’s not helping.  As one author suggested “… in the discussion of health reform, private and public costs are often treated as interchangeable, as if it makes no difference whether $1 of health spending comes from the Treasury or private insurance. This makes the concept of cost saving slippery, suggesting budgetary savings that are illusory.”
        The ‘crisis’ is being hurried along by the same people who want to save us  (kinda like the banking crisis).
        Here’s a study – entertain yourself with the DATE of the study and consider the ramifications  in light of the term ‘crisis’ (the study is still worth reading), eventually I suppose it has to be true, there has to be a crisis, but that abortion they’re discussing in the House and the Senate is, if anything, gasoline on your crisis fire.
        Now, here’s a more recent study, by a hardly unbiased source – look at their conclusions for the answer – looks remarkably like – well, let’s just say it doesn’t say much about Obama and the Democrats and the HCR bill as the ‘answer’, but surely does look a lot like a study done 16 years ago….crisis you said?
        The White House web site has an interesting line –
        “The share of family income spent on health care grew from 5.3% to 5.9% in one year. ”
        How much are the Dem’s proposing to increase the share of family income spent on TAXES do you suppose both directly and indirectly as a result of their HCR policies?
        Oh, I know what they told us, but let’s be real okay?
        How about this one – this is from the governments figures – analyzed by professionals (so you know it has to taste good!)
        “If no bill passes and no attempt is made to check medical inflation, Americans will spend an average of $13,818 on health care for every man, woman and child in 2019, the report indicated.

        With the Senate bill, the corresponding figure would be $13,892.

        Such a modest increase – about $75 per capita – may actually be a sign of thriftiness, considering that 34 million more people get covered. ”
        Do you see that?  it goes up anyway to almost the same number! and the argument against my paying for myself versus through HCR is that now I’ve helped cover an additional 30 million people (interesting that we’re predicting the same 34 million people today, in 2010 will be roughly the same number of 34 million 19 years from now, fun stuff these numbers huh?)  And we won’t even talk about how much money a mere $75.00 ‘per capita’ is, but I wouldn’t mind at all if everyone in the country sent me a $75.00 check – heck, I’d settle for a $1.00 each!
        This is your answer to the ‘crisis’  is it?
        Then these boo birds, well they claim it’s going to go UP even more with HCR – well, we’ll ignore them, Wall Street lying bastards   (and they claim we’re only covering 18 million extras over what we do today – hey what happened to the 34 million? lying bastards)
        Crisis indeed.
        The crisis appears to me to be almost unchanged since it was a crisis 16 years ago, I don’t know about your english language, mine says a crisis isn’t something that goes on for 16 years.