Light Fires

There seems to be some movement in the House toward passing the Senate health care reform bill so that something can be signed into law, and I think if the Dems in the House had any clue what’s good for them, they’ll do that. And the sooner they do it, the better for their re-election campaigns this year.

Matt Yglesias says that it’s too late for House congress critters to say they aren’t really for that crazy liberal health care reform thing, because they already voted for it once.

And of course if health care dies, the instant CW becomes that health care was too left-wing. That America hates those lefty left-wingers who voted for it. Lefty left-wingers just like Representative X. If you pass the bill, you can try to make the case for it. If you don’t pass the bill, you’ve made your opponent’s case for you. Which might not be so bad except you already voted for the bill. Once you vote for something, you’ve got to try to pass it.

If the wimps are so afraid Republicans will be mean to them, the worse thing they can do is let hcr die. Because then the Republicans will take it up, put a big FAIL sign on it, and hang it around Dems’ necks.

As for the Senate — Josh Marshall got an email from a Senate staffer that read in part —

The worst is that I can’t help but feel like the main emotion people in the caucus are feeling is relief at this turn of events. Now they have a ready excuse for not getting anything done. While I always thought we had the better ideas but the weaker messaging, it feels like somewhere along the line Members internalized a belief that we actually have weaker ideas. They’re afraid to actually implement them and face the judgement of the voters. That’s the scariest dynamic and what makes me think this will all come crashing down around us in November.

All the more reason not to call upon the Senate to come up with yet another bill. Let the House pass the Senate bill and let it be signed into law, and go on to economic stimulus and job creation. Now.

Ezra Klein says the Dems’ best option is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then “run their fixes through the reconciliation process.” He also makes an alternative suggestion

Medicare buy-in between 50 and 65. Medicaid expands up to 200 percent of poverty with the federal government funding the whole of the expansion. Revenue comes from a surtax on the wealthy.

And that’s it. No cost controls. No delivery-system reforms. Nothing that makes the bill long or complex or unfamiliar. Medicare buy-in had more than 51 votes as recently as a month ago. The Medicaid change is simply a larger version of what’s already passed both chambers. This bill would be shorter than a Danielle Steel novel. It could take effect before the 2012 election.

If health-care reform that preserves the private market is too complex and requires too many dirty deals with the existing industries, then cut both out. But get it done. Democrats have a couple of different options for passing health-care reform this year. But not passing health-care reform should not be seen as one of them.

President Obama is talking about “a stripped-down measure with bipartisan support,” which tells me he learned nothing from the stimulus package episode last spring. He’s had a year in office now, and while he’s made some moves in the right direction, overall he’s been underwhelming. If he doesn’t make some adjustments pretty soon he may not get a second term. See also Paul Krugman.

11 thoughts on “Light Fires

  1. The most aggravating aspect to all this isn’t that the Democrats know full damn well that the Republicans will beat the crap of them whichever way they go with this, it’s that if they do in fact give up the next year of Republican jeers of “Surrendered like weaklings” will genuinely be true.

    Holy Hell. How bad does someone have to screw up for the Republican noise machine’s opinion of you actually have some truth to it? I get that the Democrats are sick of the Republicans lying about them constantly, but I’m not sure the best way to prevent slander is to actually become as worthless as you are being portrayed.

    I mean, it hasn’t worked for John Edwards, has it?

  2. “Underwhelming” would be an understatement. Obama is nibbling at lame duck status, and it scares the hell out of me to have such a weakling in the Oval Office. He’s been played by everybody: Bibi on settlements, Jim Demint on Honduras, Snowe-jobbed on HCR. The sheer ineptitude is overshadowed only by the tone deafness. People are pissed and scared, and he and Michelle are playing Camelot.

  3. I’m still trying to resolve the blog against hair-on-fire Obama criticism (maybe it’s just a matter of not being shrill about it), this one which leaves one with thinking we need to amp up the pressure on Obama and your promise of going over to MA as an outlet for anger.

    Why do the Dems seem to be so less able to get things done with no larger a majority than Republican had when walking all over voter interests? That question has to be asked over and over and responsibility for a reasonable answer laid on the doorstep of our president.

    Obama’s turned so many cheeks he’s down to his last butt cheek and it’s about to get smacked really hard. Nobody will follow a wimp. NOBODY! WIthin 30 days of being in office Roosevelt started a civilian conservation corp that eventually employed millions!!! IT was Roosevelt (or Truman…) who gave speeches embracing liberal ideals and stating that people will vote for a Republican before they vote for an inauthentic Democrat in name only.

    He was correct, you know?

  4. The funny thing is that The Daily Show suggested that Brown’s election was a reaction to voters seeking change. Which it may have been, as many Democratic voters are frustrated with their party representatives. It’s so bad that the joke about Democratic leaders lacking a spine has become more of a belief than just a knock on them. I think it was Bill Clinton who said something to the effect that the people look to a strong voice with bad ideas rather than a weak voice with better ideas. While I cannot support any Republican issues, I can say they certainly are good at messaging. Personally, there’s enough blame to go around–from the politicians themselves to the voter who is too impatient. The single word that describes the events from the last national election to Massachusetts, is frustration. Unfortunately that word covers a wide gamut. You ask the people to light a fire under our representatives, which is what supposedly has been happening the last 12 months. I would say what we need to see is some Democrat in Congress to stand up and maybe pull a Howard Beale and hopefully stir up some passion as to why they’re there to begin with. But wasn’t that what was happening to a degree with that Representative from Florida? What will it take to make the Democratic members actually do something? Pardon the rambling nature of this comment, but my frustrations at the system, the people and Obama’s seemingly lack of ability to push his agenda and control the dialogue is taking its toll on me.

  5. Hmm, the eternal gap: facts vs. angry rhetoric. Obama’s gotten more legislation enacted in his first year than any president since FDR, even while he’s been bedeviled by Blue Dogs, blamed for Bush’s sins, and gets no credit for the good he has done. The stimulus package, even watered down, contained much to help small businesses and individuals, and still I hear the false meme that he’s completely sided with Wall Street over Main Street. It’s a real credibility killer, as far as I’m concerned.

    And Israeli settlements? Honduras? Seriously, these are not problems even on my radar, and unlike many voters, I still have a job and decent health insurance, and can find Israel and Honduras on maps. When I hear complaints against Obama that hold up to reality, I’ll listen.

  6. I’m still trying to resolve the blog against hair-on-fire Obama criticism (maybe it’s just a matter of not being shrill about it), this one which leaves one with thinking we need to amp up the pressure on Obama and your promise of going over to MA as an outlet for anger.

    I’ve never been against criticism of Obama; just inaccurate criticism of Obama. Screeching that he’s a traitor who is worse than Bush is just stupid.

    And the fact is that when you criticize someone, prominent or otherwise, and your criticism is completely off the charts of how that individual understands himself, he’ll dismiss you as a crackpot and ignore you. But if your criticism seems somehow grounded in mutually perceived reality, it is more likely to be taken seriously.

    So if the Obama Administration is ignoring the activist/blogger left, it could be partly the fault of the activist/blogger left for behaving like a pack of rabid schnauzers instead of thinking human beings. Not totally, but partly.

  7. “When I hear complaints against Obama that hold up to reality, I’ll listen”

    joanr16, I agree completely, Obama has achieved quite a bit, and I still think he can get this HCR through. I feel he does have some messaging issues. I don’t necessarily blame him it is just the nature of our overreacting media and the modern mis-information age. Obama is a cerebral person, he doesn’t get too excited, I believe that’s just the way he is, and frankly I’d rather he just be himself instead of flailing around wildly just to appease the angry liberals and dimwitted teabaggers, both of which are starting to look the same to me.

    My suggestion to the House is you better get this HCR over with quick and start figuring out how to reverse the latest Supreme Court decision! I can hear it now, our politicians acceptance speeches are going to start sounding like NASCAR drivers victory lane celebrations, AND NOW YOUR NEW SENATOR FROM IOWA (sponsored by taco bell).

  8. Ross Perot was mocked for his charts and the very specific nature of his speeches, but I still remember how effective he was in those appearances. He had no charisma, but he did have conviction. It would be nice to have a simple list of accomplishments presented with a couple of graphs to give context to the numbers when President Obama addresses the nation January 27. Information needs a turn so it can support inspiration.

    I don’t think there is any basis other than the Republican noise machine for the idea that the left has “gone too far” and driven the populace back to the right. I’m rather left, and I haven’t seen or heard anything beyond moderate yet from this administration. But the Republicans know that if they just keep saying the left has overreached over and over it will become the truth in the mind of the general public. And they have the party discipline to do it, too.

    The one thing that leaves me amazed is the idea that “bipartisanship” is a word still in the vocabulary of the President. If he really thinks that is a working concept and that it matters, then that is the precise point of divergence in our thinking. What is to be gained by kneeling and pleading for just one little bitty Republican vote? A token is a token. Can health care happen through a do-over? I doubt it. Must health care happen? At some point. What about “the fierce urgency of now”? They’ll attack it whether it flies or dies. At least be attacked over something you accomplished.

    • I don’t think there is any basis other than the Republican noise machine for the idea that the left has “gone too far” and driven the populace back to the right.

      Of course not, but if recent history is our guide, it will be repeated in media over and over and over and most people will believe it. What the administration has actually done is not a factor.

  9. Many years ago, when I was a young commercial diver working at the San Diego Navy Base, the master diver explained to me how in feudal Japan, business men were looked down upon, while the Samurai were almost God like. His point being, the warrior is superior to the merchant. The warrior has an objective, he carries out his plan, and he destroys the opposition; total war.
    This is the difference between the parties.
    Obama is making sense, and being civil; the opposition wants him dead.

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