Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Weird Place We're In

Jon Cohn is optimistic about health care reform. Kevin Drum is pessimistic. But they don't seem to disagree on the nature of the situation very much. And I understand -- it's hard to figure out what's going on here.

It's really weird. We're on the two-yard-line, as Cohn says. (Robert Gibbs says it's the five-yard-line.) The procedural obstacles ahead of us are small compared to what we've surmounted so far. But our people in the House, Senate, and White House are some mix of demoralized and disorganized. So things could just sit here and die, even after all the actors have put forward a huge effort and paid massive costs. I really don't know if there's any parallel to our situation in the history of legislation.

I'm really not sure what's going on here, but I'm enough of a believer in human non-insanity to think that we're going to get a bill. I don't know how it happens. I wish House Democrats would realize, as Jonathan Bernstein has been saying, that they're in position to get popular support for a reconciliation bill that eliminates the Cornhusker Kickback and whatever else, and cram it down the Senate's throat. (This could be awesome -- if your reconciliation bill eliminates the Cornhusker Kickback and the Republicans filibuster with Ben Nelson on their side, they look positively terrible.) I wish progressive Senators would help them work out a package that stood a good shot of getting through the Senate -- it would make it much easier for the House to get its head together. And above all, I wish Obama would show up and exercise some leadership here. At this point, if the health care bill fails, it's on him as much as anybody else.

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