Friday, March 12, 2010

A Little Spinach? 2

I said that it seems risky to add student loan reform to the health care reconciliation package.  Matt Yglesias reads it the other way; so does a commenter on my original post

They could be right!   I did leave some wiggle room -- I noted that the people actually making these decisions have a much better sense of where the votes lie than me, or for that matter anyone else. Ready for a really weaselly update: if it goes in, that probably means that it helps the bill.  If it doesn't, then it probably doesn't gain net votes.

Basically, the question, I guess, is whether people see student loan reform as ice cream or as spinach.  Overall, no question that most Democrats see it as ice cream -- it should be popular, and it scores well (that is, it projects to lower the deficit).  The questions are whether those Dems who don't like it (generally because of interest group opposition) would vote against reconciliation over it.  It seems to me that it is likely a net loser, because I think that every liberal (and every Democratic Senator, all 59 of them) are likely to vote for reconciliation without student loan reform, and I'm not aware of any marginal House votes that swing towards a yes vote if this is included -- it sounds more as if it just would be a happier vote for some House liberals who want something to show for losing the public option and other compromises. 

By the way, if it's a sign (and it may not be) that the House is no longer irrationally worried about being double-crossed by the Senate, then that's a pretty good sign for health care reform.

Let me add something broader...Ezra Klein said, a while ago, that he's not posting on whip counts, because (if I remember correctly) it's just too uncertain (sorry, I can't find it right now, but it was good!).  Mark Murray (via Goddard) said something similar today.  I think that's the right way to think about this stuff.  What is less uncertain are the actions of leaders, such as committing to holding votes.  If you want to know what's happening, watch to see if schedules are being made, and then watch to see if the leadership keeps to those schedules. 

1 comment:

  1. "Basically, the question, I guess, is whether people see student loan reform as ice cream or as spinach.

    While the idea of reforming student loans to save money is bound to be popular with the majority of the country, this reeks of another backroom deal, which is what the reconciliation patch was supposed to be fixing. If student loan reform is so important, have the President start pushing hard for it once the health care bill passes, but don't throw it into an already-contentious "patch" and give people another reason to to use the "backroom-deal", "rammed through" and "special-interest" canards.

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