Free Markets, Free People

Health Care Summit: The “I told you so” post

Ok, I’ll admit that it didn’t work out precisely as I said in my scenario in a previous post, and the Republicans did much better than I expected, however the result was exactly what I claimed it would be. A refresher with added emphasis:

Obama gets his moment recorded by the TV cameras no less. And mournfully he pronounces the Republicans as obstructionists who refused to negotiate in good faith as the great and wonderful Democrats have offered to do. And because of that, it is with a heavy heart and reluctantly he is forced to agree with the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that reconciliation is the only route left open to them to do “what is right” for the American people.

When I wrote my quick review yesterday, Obama hadn’t yet spoken. In his 10 minute wrap up which went on for 20 minutes, he finally got to the purpose of the summit.

I’d like Republicans to do a little soul searching to find out if there are some things that you’d be willling to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance, and dealing seriously with the pre-existing conditions issue. I don’t know frankly whether we can close that gap.

And if we can’t close that gap, then I suspect Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are going to have a lot of arguments about procedures in Congress about moving forward.

Or: “Ok, Republicans, time to join the team and show some real movement or we’ll do what we have to do procedurally”. And that, of course, is reconciliation. Greg Sargent heard the same message. Referring to that quote he says:

Unless I’m misreading that, Obama is saying that unless Republicans support comprehensive reform as Obama and Dems have defined it — dealing with the problem of 30 million uninsured and, by extension, seriously tackling the preexisting condition problem — they will almost certainly move forward with reconciliation.

What’s more, Obama also essentially accused Republicans of approaching today’s summit in bad faith — after they had sat there with him for six hours. He said that even after the public option was taken off the table, Republicans continued to use the same “government takeover” slur.

“Even after the public option wasn’t available, we still hear the same rhetoric,” Obama said. “We have a concept of an exchange which previously has been an idea that was embraced by Republicans before I embraced it. Somehow, suddenly it became less of a good idea.”

This accusation, combined with his assertion that Republicans need to do some “soul-searching” on whether they wanted to join Dems in tackling reform as they have defined it, amount to an unmistakable vow to move forward without them.


That’s what it was all about. And anyone who watched or listened to the summit know the Democrats didn’t offer a single concession (they repeatedly refused to scrap the present bill and start over – something the Republicans asked for as a means of crafting a bi-partisan solution, a process in which they made it clear they’d be very happy to participate). There was no real attempt at negotiation – just a listing of purported agreements. But the implication is those agreements should be included in the existing comprehensive plan the Democrats had put forward and not the new bill the Republicans desired.

So it was 7 hours of window dressing to get to the point of claiming that lack of progress on the part of the Republicans (in a month to 6 weeks) would leave Democrats no choice but to move forward without them. The only way they can move forward without them is via reconciliation, since they no longer have the votes in the Senate to pass the bill via the appropriate means.

Bottom line: while Republicans showed well in the summit, it was indeed political theater staged to justify reconciliation. But because Republicans did much better than expected, the justification is much weaker than it would have been had Republicans mucked it up. As a result, I think the Democrats have essentially failed in accomplishing their primary goal – justifying reconciliation and gaining the approval of the American public to do so.


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14 Responses to Health Care Summit: The “I told you so” post

  • Faux listening of opposition …..   Check
    Do it my way (“I Won !”) ……  underway

  • There are several dozen Congressmen fretting today about the vote coming up on the House approving the Senate version. I can’t find anyone who is confident that the Senate bill will pass the House, and the only ones who even seem to think it has any chance are the usual suspects (Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid,

    But yesterday made it obvious Obama isn’t going to quit on this. So I guess we sit on the edge of our seats for a while longer. I expect there will be a lot of trial balloons and a lot of backroom bribes coming up.

  • we must always remember that the DNC has a special think tank which is constantly searching for new innovative ways to have their asses handed to them.  I think reconciliation is just their latest plan.  I don’t know that they can find 51 votes in the Senate.

    • Given that the RNC seemed to have a similar group under Bush, I’m starting to wonder if either of the two parties actually wants to stay in control. Maybe it’s more fun just sitting in the minority and carping all the time. Less work, the same pay, fundraising is easier.

      My whimsical explanation is that American politicians are all actually alien actors, performing in a hit, long-running pretend-reality show that’s extremely popular on Arcturus IV. When you think about it, that would explain a lot.

    • Bigger problem – the House is unlikely to have the votes to pass the Senate version there, despite Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the bill in question doesn’t fund abortions (Stupak is saying 20 Dem House members cannot support the Senate bill). If they don’t vote it out of the House, reconciliation is moot.

  • I think the press corps failed miserably on this event because not one place described the situation in anything other than political (vice legislative) actions.
    1. There is a Senate Bill
    2. There is a House Bill
    3. In order to pass A bill the leadership (or conference committee) must produce a melded bill that can pass in both bodies.
    There really never was any other outcome than that the administration and the Democrats in Congress would have to meld the two bills or attempt the forlorn hope of reconciliation in some form or fashion.
    Why? Because if the President had agreed to ANY Republican suggestions, he would then have had to get agreement of Pelosi and Reed. They, not the President would have the task of inserting the “compromise” in the bill and selling said “compromise” to their members. Let’s say that the President suddenly became a fan of tort reform. How many Republican votes would that have drawn? And would it, could it, be drafted in such a manner that would be acceptable to some Republicans? Would that cost any support from the Democrats?
    Not only was this whole event political theater, it was a cynical ploy to expose the Republicans as bad actors. I think in that sense it failed.
    What I find disturbing is that Obama had an opportunity to exercise leadership. He could have concluded that there were no good options and called for a re-start. He could have opted for the “small bill” approach. He could have drafted people like Collins and Stupak to a committee of the whole to re-work the current bills. Instead he seems committed to death or glory. It’s not often you get to see a President of the United States gamble his office on one more roll of the dice.
    This guy might wind up making Jimmy Carter look like a statesman.

  • The Senate Bill and House bills differ on the public option, abortion and funding.  Since every House member is up for reelection in November, their sensitivities will be critical.  Pelosi only got 220 votes last time, one from Congressman Cao (R-LA) and another from Murtha who is, as my son would say, “currently dead.” Stupak claims 15-20 blue dogs who voted for the last iteration will bolt.

    The republicans came across as knowledgeable, polite, and concerned about rising costs and the private sector.  They had a plan and outlined it.  Cantor, Ryan and Alexander were particularly effective. 

    The dog & pony show blew up in the democrats’ faces.  A key issue may be Obama’s polls.  After this health care debacle where people saw the petulance, arrogance and pettiness of the man, his personal popularity will likely drop.  Look at Rasmussen’s 3-day average Monday.  With no turnaround in unemployment, I expect Obama’s job approval to be below 40% by the end of March.  Considering Obama’s “help” in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, having his support may not be worth casting a vote for ObamaCare. 

    Personally, I want to see ObamaCare pass without a single republican vote.  If it does and Congress changes hands, this Thanksgiving will be the best one since 1621.

  • He looked, and was bored because he wanted to get on with the speech he was planning on giving all along.

  • We need super-genius Scott Erb to weigh in on this and tell us how we’re all wrong for making “should” not “is” statements. Especially since we’re not professors of political science at UM Farmington, heretofore unknown as a hotbed of anarcho-syndicalist thought.

  • I’m holding out hope that the House Dems know are resigned to failure, so the liberal House Dems will make a big show of trying to push this through via reconciliation while the moderate House Dems don’t cooperate.  This way, the liberal House Dems can go back to their liberal districts and say they did their best, and moderate House Dems can go back to their moderate districts and brag about how they listened to their constituents and took a courageous stand against party leadership.  We’re spared some crappy legislation, and everybody gets to keep their job (maybe).