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.
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