Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well Played

The big news tonight is that Obama is now talking about a Dems-only bill.

Zasloff says it's "about time." Liberals have been begging for this all along, of course, and complaining about how pointless Baucus's negotiations were.

But that misses the point, which is that a large part of what's going on is securing political cover for marginal Democrats in an atmosphere in which the normal cover -- Republican votes -- is not available. How to do that? "Serious" negotiations, not just with Snowe but with Grassley and even Enzi. That shows that the Dems really wanted a compromise. Then, float the compromise trial balloon -- not so much to get liberals hopping mad, but in hopes of getting Republicans to publicly admit that they had no intention of reaching an agreement. They bit, and now you move forward.

As far as the costs of doing things this way...I still don't see the downside of hitting the August recess with the bill where it is. As I've said, if the bill was in conference now, Members would have to defend having already voted for crazy non-existent stuff; as it is, they can still be for the principle of universal health care without busting the budget, while opposing whatever crazy (and non-existent) provisions the opponents can dream up.

There's still a long way to go, but it sure looks to me as if the president and his team know what they're doing, and that eventually they'll wind up getting more or less the best bill available. That'll still be far short of what liberal want, but perhaps not so far from what Obama ran on.

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