Thursday, January 21, 2010

What House Progressives Are Doing

My hypothesis: Progressives in the House know that they finally have serious leverage over whether health care reform succeeds or fails, since the vulnerable centrists recognize that they need a passed bill to not get devastated at the polls in November. And they're working their leverage for all it's worth -- refusing to pass the Senate bill, though of course they can get on board and let it through whenever they're offered back enough of the goodies (bigger subsidies? public option? please let it not be killing the excise tax!) that centrists have been taking away from them for the past several months. That's why things are stalled right now, just one step away from victory. Centrists have been playing this game for months, and now it's progressives' turn. Give them what they want, and they'll let it through and we can all celebrate.


corvus said...

This sounds reasonable. I hope you're right, Neal.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone sympathetic to the policy aims of guys like Weiner and Grijalva, I still can't help but feel that what they're doing--even if your theory is correct--is recklessly endangering the legislation. We're in way too much of a delicate situation right now to keep playing this game.

janinsanfran said...

Remember Stupak and his merry band of misogynists ... they want theirs' too.

ikl said...

My hypothesis is that these people are cowards or morons. I don't see any evidence that this is about leverage. They don't have any leverage. There are 41 Republicans. The Senate Democrats can't pass anything nearly as good as the Senate bill anymore. I don't see, say, Mary Landreau getting really upset if the bill dies. It was just a political problem for her anyway. Who are they supposed to be pressuring?

If this is a strategy, it is really, really stupid. Talking down the Senate bill, which is the only thing left on the table any more, is just going to make health care reform more unpopular and therefore harder to pass. Haven't these people learned anything from the last three months?

Bottom line: call your rep. Tell them to stop wimping out and pass the Senate bill ASAP.

This display is cowardly, disgraceful and, if continued, will be a political disaster.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Ned, your concern is warranted at this stage. And Ira, I'm definitely worried that you're right. It's just that the sheer level of moronism required for that is hard to fathom.

The recent Grijalva comments are really worrying, though. If he was just saying "Pass the reconciliation package first, then we'll move the Senate bill" then I'd be a lot more comfy. Instead he's laying out weird alternative strategies that make no sense.

ikl said...

Grijalva seems like an idiot. But I'm really disappointed in Barney Frank who isn't, but has been behaving like one. And Anthony Weiner. And apparently about half of the rest of the caucus if media reports are to be believed. It is hard to believe that they could be acting this childish, but it seems like lots of people in the House care more about the Senate being unfair to them than they do about health care reform.

It also appears that lots of people in the House either don't understand the policy well enough to get that you can't do this piecemeal or don't really care about improving things. Leadership should be explaining that you can't do this. Unfortunately leadership seems to be MIA.