Friday, January 22, 2010

The Way Forward

It is clear to all what has to be done. Paul Krugman. Andy Stern. John Dingell. 47 health policy experts. Even FireDogLake, though they say it backwards, in the tongue of madness.

First, House and Senate negotiators have to agree on a package of changes to the original bill, to be passed with 50 votes through budget reconciliation. Then in some order, the Senate will pass the reconciliation vehicle and the House will pass both bills. Finally, there is a happy signing ceremony in the Rose Garden.

The agreements here don't have to be hammered out instantly. Even before Paul Brown won his Senate race, it was going to be a while before negotiators finished their work. What needs to happen really soon, especially in the wake of the utter insanity of this week, is that people need to stand up and announce that this will be the framework. This will take a little bit of leadership from people other than Nancy Pelosi, who is doing the right things. Not necessarily some kind of home run speech by Obama on Tuesday, but an agreement from White House and Senate actors that this is to be the process going forward. If that happens, we're basically back to where we were before Massachusetts, with the extra problem of people being more freaked out and the added benefit of only needing 50 votes in the Senate for our last run through that chamber.


bend said...

I don't really see how that FDL petition can be taken as anything other than unrepentant idiocy. Not only would I never sign it, but I'd actually be fitfully angry with anyone who did.

corvus said...

Neil, "backwards, in the tongue of madness" is a great line, and you should be proud of it.

I am basically whipsawing back and forth on this. On the one hand, it seems like we might get nothing, which will lead to the entire Democratic party disintegrating. On the other hand, this might be an opportunity to get the public option set up again. I am mostly pessimistic.

What I really hope is that this serves as some kind of hitting of bottom for the Dem caucus, and that they finally get their shit together.

Be that as it may, I am henceforth calling my representative every week day until this issue is resolved. Maybe even after that.

janinsanfran said...

It's some kind of index of how out of touch the Dems in Washington have become that those of us watching from afar have been able to coalesce around some kind of forward looking plan while they are still running around like headless chickens.

It wasn't hard to see trouble ahead from afar; it may be hard to see a way forward, but not impossible.

But "our leaders" seem to have been cocooned in their own concerns and so act blind-sided.

We led them away from blind oblivion in the 2004-2006 period. Can we do it again?

ikl said...

What Janinsanfran said. Sorry folks. This isn't hard.

And, sorry Neil, but this is Pelosi's big opportunity to show leadership and all she has done is hold a press conference and announce that she doesn't have the votes to pass the Senate bill. Real helpful. I'm sure that any of us could have figured out how to frame that message better.

Aren't FDL and unrepentant idiocy pretty much synonymous at this point? I wonder how the Grover Norquist allience is workng out.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Yeah, I definitely wouldn't sign the FDL petition. The good news is that they're converging on the same plan as we are, while being insane. That's a lot better than being insane and running off in a direction that fits into no possible plan, which I worry about with those people.

I honestly don't know how much tolerance there is in the system for continued chaos. Maybe there's more than enough room for the progressives' hardline strategy to get us things of real value. And if the situation recovers, we'll get positive process stories and heal a lot of our damage. But like Corvus I'm of many minds about this and I'm often worried that this time may be different from all the other tough moments we've had with this thing.

I agree, Jan, that a lot of the things DC Dems have said have been really disgraceful. Even if you charitably adjust for everybody who might really be playing a gutsy bill-improving strategy, there's a whole bunch of crazy you can't account for. One of the reasons I credit Pelosi is that she had one of the very few sane and hope-preserving comments on Brownday -- that it didn't matter and a bill was gonna be passed no matter what. Meantime, Barney Frank of all people was losing his head. That really surprised me. I know he spouts off a lot, often well, but there's no excuse for a veteran like him to say it's dead. "Immune to the crazy virus" ought not be a compliment, but thank goodness somebody had immunity.

ikl said...

The thing is now that the House has to pass the Senate bill. Making it toxic by bashing it and talking about how you can't possibly vote for it is going to make it awfully hard to get the votes to do this. Time is not on our side here. Nor is "hardball" negotiating tactics by the House. Why should low information voters believe that the Senate bill (which is the one that the House has to pass) is a good thing if Democrats don't even believe in it? Don't these people have any political sense? Didn't they just what two months of tough negotiations in the Senate did to poll numbers?

Neil Sinhababu said...

Well, their bashing of the Senate bill has been mostly flavorless. I mean, it's not like they said anything you'd remember in three months, or anything that low-information voters notice. They just refused to pass it. So I don't see them making the Senate bill any more toxic (except in the way that delay without a plan motivates obituary-writing.)

Brock said...

FDL is one "fhtagn" away from summoning the great Cthulhu.

Blar said...

How confident are you in this? Do you think there's value in the Intrade healthcare reform contract?