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The Futility of Compromise

Jon Kyl held a conference call today to declare that the GOP will not support a co-op compromise. That's not to say you couldn't pick off a few Republican votes. But it's pretty clear that the GOP will oppose this happily and aggressively too.

This is a dynamic we saw in 1994. A compromise is offered, and after great anguish and infighting, Democrats grudgingly move toward it. Then the compromise is yanked away. The famous example of this is Bob Dole voting against two bills that had the name "Dole" in the title. We'll see the same sort of thing this year. The end-of-life counseling hubbub, where Democrats got attacked for approving an amendment that Republicans had frequently offered, is another example. It's one more reminder that the likeliest compromise will be between liberal Democrats and centrist Democrats, along with Olympia Snow and Susan Collins. Between people, in other words, who have incentives to pass a bill, rather than incentives to kill the bill.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2009; 4:00 PM ET
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You just made a post saying that you didn't really know what the difference between a co-op and a public plan is and now you are surprised that republicans won't support a co-op plan?

Posted by: spotatl | August 18, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Duh. As Atrios said, anyone who is remotely sentient knows the Repukes' only goal is to "break" Obama at all costs. So many Dems just insist on being willfully ignorant.

Ezra, why do we care about Baucus? Why can't Reid just move forward with what he's got?

As far as I can tell, the only question is -- will any Dem vote for the filibuster?

Posted by: AZProgressive | August 18, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Why don't the Dems offer a compromise that many senators from both parties have already agreed to: Wyden-Bennett?

Posted by: Dellis2 | August 18, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The good thing is this is all happening now before the deal making in the fall takes place; there are no partners on the other side.

I would hope Ezra you and other blogger start making the point aggressivly that Democratic senators can not hide behind the GOP on a tough and historic vote; they either circle the wagons or take the blame for not passing health reform and basically be called out in 2010 as unable to govern. They need health care reform; the better the reform and the more entitlements that voters will SEE come Jan. 1, 2010 the better for every single Democrat running for office.

I am absolutely sure that no democrat will lose b/c they supported health reform that changed lives in their state or district; even if it adds to the deficit.

I am sure if they pass historic legislation; the Republicans will be facing a party of no sticker and the taint of Hoover-Bush and that ain't a good place to be with voters.


This hissy fit on the left has clarified a lot and been good; the GOP overplayed it's hand. It could have obfuscated the issue for Conservadems/DINOS but now it's crystal clear.

Reform and governence is on the Democrats; no Republican is willing to provide a fig leaf. Hell, Issackson couldn't man up over END OF LIFE COUNSELING! Forget health reform; this is ride or die time. Baucus/Conrad/Bayh and the like need to rally around the damn flag and stop jerking the POTUS and administration and negotiate w/the other democrats for a viable plan they can run on.

Posted by: Rhoda | August 18, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

As has been said by many all along, the Republicans strategy here is simply to drag this out....delay and destroy. They have no intentions of voting for anything...anything...that will give Obama a victory in something as critical as healthcare. They simply want to kill this deal and regain power.

Posted by: scott1959 | August 18, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Republicans will oppose happily and aggressively, while secretly hoping for quick passage of the most unsustainable, NHS-like plan of all... along a party-line vote.

We can see some preliminary effects (at least in Virginia) in the recent Post (/wp-srv/politics/polls/postpoll_081609.html) poll:

* Virtually everyone (85%) who is insured is satisfied with his health insurance coverage.

* Virtually everyone (86% of uninsured, 91% of insured) is satisfied with the quality of the health care he receives.

* There is an increase (50% to 55%) in the number of people who believe that the Federal government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and private businesses.

* There is increasing faith in Republicans in Congress to do a good job: there is no similar increase in faith in Democrats in Congress.

* The half (48%) of the population which disapproves of Obama's handling of heath insurance reform does so strongly (41%) while only half of those who approve (49%) of his handling do so strongly (29%).

Posted by: rmgregory | August 18, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, a compromise consists of giving the other side something they want NOT giving up something the other side doesn't want by introducing something else they don't want.

“Why don't the Dems offer a compromise that many senators from both parties have already agreed to: Wyden-Bennett?”

Because they want it all and will accept nothing less, which means they will get nothing…

Posted by: kingstu01 | August 18, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

rmgregory...watching FOX much? No one has ever....EVER...talked about NHS style (or even Canadian style) health care in this country. Of course people like the coverage they have, until they realize that it is as secure as their job. Of course people are satisfied with the actual quality of care, that is between them and their doc and these ratings have always been high. The other stats you raise? You think these have anything to do with the drumbeat of astroturf teaparty crap going on (killing grandma)?

Posted by: scott1959 | August 18, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

“Why don't the Dems offer a compromise that many senators from both parties have already agreed to: Wyden-Bennett?”

If you start with the Wyden bill and round out the edges so it doesn't hurt people who already have insurance, you end up with something resembling what's being discussed. And the Republican support evaporates, which proves they weren't really willing to compromise in the first place.

Posted by: bmull | August 18, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I begin to think that this crazy August recess will turn out to be a real gift for the Democrats. Everyone now show their true colors. There's no reason to talk to the GOP. Kick them off the table.

Posted by: impikk | August 18, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

rmgregory: that's you confined to the corner with the other liars, con-artists and BSers. Thanks for making it clear that you're not an honest commenter.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | August 18, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Bmull: I could not disagree more. Wyden-Bennett eliminates the employer-based health insurance system. The current Democratic health care proposals reenforce the employer-based system.

Posted by: Dellis2 | August 19, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

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