The Problem With Deals
On Sunday, former senator Bill Bradley took to the New York Times to outline a grand compromise on health care. "The bipartisan trade-off in a viable health care bill is obvious," he wrote. "Combine universal coverage with malpractice tort reform in health care."
That would be an obvious trade. It would be so obvious a trade, in fact, that if it were on the table, it's a pretty safe bet that some Republican would have mentioned it, or some Democrat would have broached it, or some White House official would have floated it. The problem is that there's no evidence that any Republicans support that trade -- or any other trade, for that matter.
When conceiving of a deal to offer Republicans, you have to ask why they would prefer that deal to a scenario in which they vastly strengthen their power in the Congress, and can thus demand better deals, and maybe even control the process going forward. All things being equal, Republicans would like to see malpractice reform. But would they like to see malpractice reform more than they'd like to defeat the health care bill and pick up dozens of seats, and maybe even control of the Congress? Probably not. But that's the historical precedent of 1994, and the explicit premise of their current strategy. That's the bar a policy deal has to pass if it's going to be bipartisan -- which is why the Senate leadership is increasingly looking at reconciliation, and the possibilities of a partisan deal.
August 31, 2009; 9:44 AM ET
Categories: Health Reform
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