The White House is pressuring
Senate Democrats to pass
health care reform even it means cutting
the public option and the Medicare buy-in, according to reports. The
concessions would drop two of the bill's largest and most coveted
provisions to secure the votes of only one or two senators: Joe Lieberman
and, possibly, Olympia Snowe. Lieberman has tortured Democrats
by hinting at and then revoking his support. Vice President Joe Biden insists
Lieberman will take a deal. How seriously should the White House take
his latest demands? Just as importantly, what's the alternative if they
- Necessary To Pass The Washington Post's Ezra Klein mourns,
"The public option died tonight. So, it seems, did its eager successor,
the Medicare buy-in." He writes, "The calculation, in the end, was
pretty simple. The White House
wants the Senate done with health-care legislation by Christmas. The
argument is that big bills rarely fail in a dramatic vote. They bleed
to death slowly, wasting away amid a procession of delays and
procedural setbacks. The longer a health-care reform bill takes, the
less likely it is to pass." Senate Democrats had no choice but to
remove "not only the public option, but anything that looked even
remotely like it."
- Public Option Not White House Priority The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn writes
that they're more worried about passing the bill and about getting to
jobs. "While Obama has consistently supported the idea in principle, at
touting it when he could easily have buried it, he's also made clear
that he doesn't see it as the centerpiece of reform. It has not, by any
reckoning, been a major focus of his administration's lobbying of
Capitol Hill," he writes. "Negotiating a new deal would mean adding
days, at least, to the
process. Every extra day the health care debate continues is an day
spent wrangling with the Liebermans of the world, rather than talking
about, say, jobs. That's probably not good for health care reform or the administration's broader agenda.
- 'Last Chance' For Reform Politico's Mike Allen says that's the White House's thinking. "When President Barack Obama meets with Senate Democrats at the White
House today, look for him to make the case that this is the LAST CHANCE
FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM. Sen. Lieberman's rejection of the Dem
leadership's compromise, which had put the Senate on track to pass
reform by Christmas, makes it possible (though still unlikely) that the
measure will collapse. The West Wing believes that it is still on track
to pass, but that there remains a chance it doesn't. So with the days
ticking away, Obama will spell out the stakes in increasingly
- Try Again Next Year, Dems
National Review's Rich Lowry insists
that Democrats can find long-term victory by admitting short-term
defeat. "If the health-care bill is necessary and wise, it will
withstand a temporary defeat. Democrats could campaign on it around the
country next year. They could rebuild public support, turning around
the polls. They could enhance their majority in the House and the
Senate, bringing more Democrats to Washington determined to pass it.
That's how you usually pass historic legislation in a system naturally
inclined to the status quo."
Greenwald: "If the WH wasn't happy with the HCR outcome, how come they never tried things like this to stop/change it?"
Yglesias: "That article is about Lynn Woolsey's secondhand account of an event the WH says didn't happen."
Greenwald: "Woolsey is credible; the WH denies a lot of things; either way, why didn't the WH try to pressure 'obstructionist' Senators?"
Yglesias: "Why would Lieberman give in to WH pressure?"
wants his Chair; [Sen. Blanche] Lincoln wants WH and DNC support; the
WH has lots of pressure points - why didn't they try?"
Wheeler: "Because [Chief of Staff] Rahm [Emanuel] is an incompetent egomaniac?"
Greenwald: "The WH/Rahm know how to pressure members when they care about something - doesn't mean they're omnipotent, but they can try"
Wheeler: "Agree. But they have a f'ed up understanding of what is possible and how to get there."
Yglesias: "I don't think the facts very clear you have a narrative of WH betrayal you're squeezing everything into."
-- the Internet has spoken. Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln, etc. have no
agency. Everything is secretly orchestrated by Rahm."
Wheeler: "No, the question is whether and how Rahm & O assert their own agency"
Greenwald: "Total distortion. There is PRESSURE/influence the WH can apply - it might work and it might not. They didn't try."
Yglesias: "If WH just wanted to 'not try' they could have surrended months ago. What's been going on if not trying?"
"Question is do you cede the field to allow Lieberman et al to dictate outcomes? That's what Rahm chose to do."
progressives want more progressive legislation we need to more ability
to pressure senators directly, not more whining about Obama."
source of leverage over Lieberman & Nelson is through leaders of
our caucus: his Chair is one of biggest levers we have.
But Obama and Rahm and Reid have chosen not to use that lever."
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