Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Is the Deal a Done Deal?

So, Harry Reid has announced that the gang of ten has reached a deal. Reporting so far is sketchy...but why wait to blog about it? Here's my first pass at the most obvious three questions people might have:

1. Should liberals be happy? My rule of thumb for liberals is easy: if Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd, and Jay Rockefeller are happy, then they should be happy. Of course, those on the left who think anything other than single-payer is useless might not be very pleased (although in my view they should prefer a bill that Schumer, Dodd and Rockefeller like to the status quo), but they never had any chance of being pleased given the current Congress and given Barack Obama (and, in my view, they had no chance of getting what they wanted any time in the foreseeable future). Schumer, Dodd, and Rockefeller are pros, and if they say this is the best that this particular Senate could do, odds are that they are correct.

2. What could go wrong with the deal? Lots, but the main thing is that it hasn't been scored yet. If CBO reports back numbers that the moderates can't live with, then it's back to the drawing board.

3. Does this bill, right now, have 60 votes? Really good question. The reporting that I've seen so far does not answer anything. The compromise certainly has 58 votes. Of the other possible supporters, last we heard Ben Nelson was threatening to walk over abortion; Joe Lieberman was against anything that smelled of a public option; Olympia Snowe was reported to be against the Medicare buy-in included in the deal; and Susan Collins is against any public option at all and is, in my view, unlikely to get on board unless Snowe is already there. Nelson is one of the group of ten, so he is presumably okay with this part of the bill now, but that still leaves abortion; Snowe and Lieberman have been in touch with the negotiators according to reporters, but so far no reaction from them tonight. It's possible that Reid has commitments from at least two of the four now. It's possible that Reid is bluffing. I guess we'll know more tomorrow.

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