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October 25, 2009


"But I think the White House also has some ulterior motives here -- in short, their political self-interest is diverging from the public interest. The White House, understandably, wants to be re-elected. Passing health care is critical to that."

So what you're saying, Publius, is that in addition to be craven, the White House is politically stupid.

Because if HCR passes without a public option, and people are extorted by the government into feeding the voracious maw of for-profit health care companies without the option of enrolling in a government-sponsored plan instead, the whole *political* strategy blows up in their face, causing massive Congressional losses in '10 and a Republican president in 2012.

Hard to believe, since Obama has been so politically savvy up until now, but that's what I see happening.

If you can't get a public option, don't you want the "issue" of not getting a public option to use against Republicans in 2012?
If the public option and triggers are not in the bill, we can go back again and again to get it by reconciliation or whatever. If the trigger is in, we can never go back and we lose an issue that polls well until 2014 or later.

Your analysis assumes that Snowe is more opposed to the public option than all Democrats, which may be questionable.

Of course the White House's apparent analysis assumes that some significant number of people will view a bill that gets the vote of Snowe and no other Republicans as bipartisan enough that it changes the political climate, which seems even more questionable.

Perhaps your analysis is correct but I have read a number of things suggesting that this is really about the WH doing their own whip counts and not feeling very confident about Harry Reid's math on this. That is, their strategy has been to get a bill to conference where they believe they have a very good chance to make it stronger (this is something Dean has been arguing all along too). If they're right, then Snowe's trigger is the safest bet on getting it to that stage and they have something they can work on. If Reid is wrong, then the bill will basically die a slow death and that will essentially be the end of Health Care Reform. Obviously, none of us are privy to all the inside details here but I do think one can make a reasonable case that its not the wisest idea to bet the whole pot on Harry Reid being right about something.

Agreed. I can think of nothing more devastating to Obama's re-election hopes than failure to provide a *real* and robust public option. Siding with "the money power" against the hopes of the people would be a disaster for all of us...but mostly a disaster for hopes of a 2nd term.

From what I've heard, I think Brent's right about the WH's political analysis -- and further, that they're not even pushing Reid that hard to make the compromise.

So I'm wondering: (1) am I wrong that the WH isn't really putting that much pressure on Reid, and (2) if so, does it really change the dynamics of creating the health care bill?

Chmond:"I can think of nothing more devastating to Obama's re-election hopes than failure to provide a *real* and robust public option"

Is this the final bill or another step to it? ask yourself.
This is about merging HELP and finance bill that will be voted on in Senate. There is another bill that is merging in House. Only important thing in this is that both bills have a public option in them before conference where they will merge again. It is barely of any importance how strong *real* public option is coming from Senate as long as it has it in it. Since House bill has a strong option it will pull up the weak one from The Senate in conference and then go to vote in both houses.

By having the weaker option in Senate first vote they will attract and trap more of the conservo-crats that are against it with strong option, maybe even Snow will be trapped with vote for weak public option before the bill is merged in the conference and then vote for merged bill with strong public option.

On the other hand the public option is not the biggest problem for vote count when merged in the conference. The biggest problem will be the financing of the bill, since the Senate bill is completely different from House Bill in financing matter. There is no huge difference in public option, even tough every bit can mean a lot over time.

Merging of Finance and HELP bills and three bills from House gradually strengthens the public option before the final vote.

My prediction still stands that "Independent" Holy Joe will stab the Dems in the back and that this very real threat (iirc he even made it publicly) is one of the reasons to try to get at least one Republican senator to vote for cloture to provide the 60th vote. I don't see problems to get the 50 votes for the actual bill in an up-or-down vote.

It is always frustrating to me when politicians live up to the caricatured stereotypes made of them. Obama is stereotypes as a go-along-to-get-along kind of guy, and he is acting in a way that deliberately feeds in to the stereotype that he's extremely non-confrontational.

Yeah, the whip count is very close and iffy.

Nobody is completely confidant about Nelson, Bayh, Lincoln, or Lieberman.

Bayh, for instance, very well might want to switch parties and run in 2012 against Obama, or at least be the Repub VP nominee. And his wife is an executive for Wellpoint.

Lincoln is facing a brutal re-election, and Obama/heathcare are not popular in her state.

Without question, a public option with opt-out possibility will be wastly more politically popular than a trigger -- a mechanism that is politically discredited in advance regardless of actual wonkish merits. In the end, if the public option is established as a federally-chartered non-profit corporation that is legally required to operate entirely from premiums after start-up loans, a senator from Maine receiving the slightest nudge will not -- repeat, NOT, and that means both of them as well -- vote against making the most reasonable-cost alternative available to as many people as possible when there is a requirement that they buy insurance.

What the hell is wrong with you guys? Just freakin' do it! It is staring you right in the face.

It's amazing that Emanuel, for all his self-created tough-guy image, seems to be extraordinarily weak in the clutch, more of a wuss even than Harry Reid. Of course, if so, Obama is being a serial enabler here. You can't get elected unless you are strong. Strength here is about 100 times more important that ideological triangulating, especially since, with the Republicans determined to try shooting down any Obama policy, there is no actual ideological opposition. Waffling on this now is political suicide.

OTOH ...and I mean the commenters in the thread even more than Digby.
Although I am usually even nastier than they.

Could we have gotten more if Obama were a populist instead of a corporatist, confrontational instead of accomodationist? Whatever the heck he is.

Besides an unimaginable disaster.

Jordan, I think you nailed it. All of it.

From what I've seen, I think I'd trust the Obama/Emanuel whip count over the Reid. If you were Obama, would you bet your success on this bill (and risk severely damaging your presidency) on trusting Lieberman? Remember, they have a history that already includes a major betrayal. And what does Lieberman have to lose at this point? If I were Obama, I'd be twice shy.

You can't get elected unless you are strong. Strength here is about 100 times more important that ideological triangulating...

As a general rule, this is so very very true. Thanks urban legend. As per Bob Mc's comment, what we really needed in the first place was a populist rather than a corporatist/'accomodationist'/etc. But what we have is the latter, so we have to make the best of it. At least Obama's an improvement over Clinton (I'm pretty sure).

On HCR in particular, we - unfortunately - are where we are, and all that matters is the end result. Maybe for Senators who ought to be Republicans, like the amphibian Bayh or the blanched mediocrity named 'Lincoln', having the vote of Snowe will make the difference. You'd think they'd thought this through a little more: not only is the short/medium term fate of the Democratic party at stake here, but in some ways, the fate of the US economy, too; HCR is not going to get any easier in the future, neither politically, nor, certainly, substantively. Put it off and the choices next time will be worse.

When are we allowed to say that the proximate 'rational' behavior of pathetic politicians and greedy, world-destroying finance guys is really irrational? Is it, strictly speaking, really rational to think only one year ahead (or one quarter)? Actually, automatic behavior which disregards the consequences is the very definition of 'irrational'.

I'd need some real evidence before I took anything on HuffPo seriously. Remember Arianna demanding that Biden resign just last week? The truth is that we don't know what's really happening, and it's premature to get into a tantrum over what may well be nothing at all.

Lincoln is facing a brutal re-election, and Obama/heathcare are not popular in her state.

There">">There are numbers that show the public option is popular in Arkansas.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 9/8-10. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)

Do you favor or oppose creating a government-administered health insurance option that anyone can purchase to compete with private insurance plans?
Favor Oppose Not Sure
All 55 38 7
Dem 81 14 5
Rep 22 71 7
Ind 56 34 10

And if she's really in trouble electorally, can Lincoln afford to demoralize her supporters?

and here i thought it took 50 votes to pass a bill.

what happened to the good old "up or down vote" ?

"and here i thought it took 50 votes to pass a bill. what happened to the good old "up or down vote"?"

More specifically, what happened to voting with your party for cloture, even if you don't for the bill? What has gotten into these guys that they can threaten to deny their party a vote?

still not happy at their unwillingness to say they don't favor a trigger.

what possible negotiating advantage do they keep in not being clear about this other than to keep snowe happy?

what has gotten into these guys that they can threaten to deny their party a vote?

this is what's happened:

DONT PANIC Go watch Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. I keep my faith in Obama and his positions that he will keep doing as promised. Do not expect him to be a dictator as Bush was and enact everything he promised.

I really messed up my explenations about why is not an issue that he is pushing for weaker public option in Senate merger.
There is 5 bills right now. Only one, finance bill doesnt have public option. Those two bills will merge and have a weakest public option and Obama is pushing for even weaker (trigger) so that Snow is traped in voting for it, since Joe hillbilly is against it for now. That merged bill is going for vote and only need is to have a public option no matter how weak beacues it is going for further enhancement in conference with House bill that will have strong public option. Then it comes back to both houses for vote. That is the final bill that will have opt out strong public option. Opt out is a good thing to tease GOP led states to opt out and loose in next elections from outraged population who will want it once they find out what other states enjoy.

The real problem is way of financing the individual subsidies that is totaly different in every of five bill.

First, I agree with what Jordan and Mock Turtle said.

Secondly, I am not at all convinced that the White House is pushing for the Snowe trigger.

I realize that this is what many commentators are saying--but where is the evidence? It just doesn't make sense.

Is it possible that this is a story that took on a life of its own after a couple of "well-informed Congressional staffers" put it out there?

I won't go on at length here. . .
But if you're interested, I've just posted about this on

maggie, i ignored anonymous sources (especially coming out of lobbyist riddled politico) until i found out jay rockefeller unprompted suddenly came out with a strongly worded memo arguing a public option hampered by a trigger simply would not work. i doubt rockefeller would have come out with public statement just on the basis of unfounded & unsupported rumor. my guess is rahm (whose been reported pushing for this in the past months, as well as orzag) tried to get him on board in support for a trigger.

I think, though, that the White House also wants to say that they've restored bipartisanship, brought the parties together on big issues, etc. In short, I'm wondering if the White House's shorter-term political calculations (for themselves) are making them more timid than they should be on this issue.

Maybe there are a few deluded denizens of the Village who would buy the idea that the WH "restored bipartisanship" by getting a single Republican vote from what passes for the "extreme left" of the GOP, but no one in the real world takes that seriously. It is far more obvious that the Obama team is using bipartisanship as a cover for making a deal that will be satisfactory to the health insurers and, above all, Wall Street. The recent rhetorical ratcheting we've seen vis-à-vis Fox News and bank bailout executives provides a convenient smokescreen for the WH tacking Rightwards on health care reform.

It now looks like nobody knows what the WH is thinking on this -- a lot of confusion.

Omen, it's just as likely that Rockefeller was trying to make sure that a small clique of Baucus, Nelson, Snowe etc didn't muscle the trigger into the final bill. As for him being unprompted, for all we know the White House gently expressed concern to him and he took on the task of heading the trigger off at the pass. I would suggest that one plan Obama has in the negotiations with Snowe is to slowly split her off from the GOP, let her feel how it would be to be listened to respectfully, and allow her to draw her own conclusions. By my guess, the likelihood of Snowe quitting the GOP habit has been increasing steadily over the past year, and sooner or later she'll either go Independent or switch to the Dems.

I've got a procedural question.

Once the final Senate bill is passed and is merged in conference with the final House bill, is the resulting final House/Senate bill subject to filibuster in the Senate or is it guaranteed an up/down vote?

If the final bill does get an automatic up/down vote, then Jordan's analysis makes a lot of sense to me as a White House strategy. Even if the Senate bill has a weak public option, it should be improved in conference and there should be 51 votes in the Senate for a stronger public option in the final bill.

My understanding, Tony, is that it has to come to an up or down vote.

But people here and elsewhere are being fooled into thinking that Obama is a transformational progressive figure just because of his race, and it's just not true. If Obama were white people wouldn't keep being so frustrated and disappointed every time he acts like the right wing figure that he is.

This is correct. Maybe because I am not American, I saw through this fraud from the start. He still won't close Guantanamo even as he makes Bagram the new Guantanamo. George W. was so bad that the American left will accept anything, even dogs like Obama.

Anani, Ali H, Why do you want Obama to be dictator like Bush and implement all he promissed?
Do you want a civil war?
After 8 years you cant wait few more years to change something so radicaly, no matter how wrong it was?
Obama learned from Clinton about health care fiasko and he also learned from Clinton experience about failed promises. Can't you learn from your support of Clinton prosecution for cigars in oval office, as Obama learned from it.
Obama is so far progressive and you can find that in continous logic of his campaign speaches. He is the only campaigner that kept a consistent logic troughout, only one that i experienced in my life. That proves that he is who he says he is.
The reason he employed moderates around him is because he knew that such sudden change would provoke shattering changes in the country that population would not be able to acommodate so fast.
Be patient, and think about moles in here sent by GOP to undermine confidence in President. Think about how many claim that they voted for Obama and they changed their mind. BullS...t
It is subtle work of GOP workerbees

Anani:"Who cares about speeches on the campaign trail? Look at what he's done in office."
Here you are asking him to be a dictator and order congress and Senate what to do and how to vote.

Slarti - are you really going to let the comment at 5.27pm stand?

As for the comment at 5.24pm, Slarti, I hope you don't plan to condone racism.

What's wrong with the 5.27 comment? The one before that is indeed offensive.

Here you are asking him to be a dictator and order congress and Senate what to do and how to vote.

I'm not really sure you understand what being a "dictator" means.

"It looks like the prez is gonna have to take his tongue out of Olympia Snowe's backside."

Putting politely what isn't -- FTR, does this count as "profanity"?

Tyro_Do you mean dictator as in dictates orders out? Or dictator killing around.
Dictator means that other around him are afraid not to follow orders instead of doing freely, as they feel comfortable.
It is not about what kind of orders are dictated, but fear of not following.

jonnybutter, tell me, what do you consider that the 5.27 comment contributes? It's gratuitous, offensive and based on nothing but hatred. Trollery is the generous interpretation.

MockTurtle, I doubt that comment was written by the real jonnybutter.

And now it looks like not only is the merged bill gonna have a public option (albeit w/ opt out), but the WH is supporting it.

And now it looks like not only is the merged bill gonna have a public option (albeit w/ opt out), but the WH is supporting it.

The White House isn't supporting it. That c*nt Rahm is working behind the scenes to sabotage it. Barry is a fraud.

Saying "we're not going to help you flip any straggling senators" isn't "sabotage"; more along the lines of white house officials looking to make the heat fall on Reid if this falls through.

IOW, they're covering their ass.

I'll leave it to prof pundits to answer if that makes you a "fraud".

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