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Tensions between Senate and White House?

Ryan Grim is reporting that Rahm Emanuel personally walked into Harry Reid's office today and pressured him to cut a deal with Joe Lieberman. "Get it done," he's reported as saying. "Just get it done."

The White House is denying the report. But Grim's sources are sticking by it. That is to say, the story here may be the story itself. These are presumably Senate sources who are feeding Grim, while White House sources are pulling him back. You saw something similar in this morning's Politico report, which said that Reid was resisting the White House's entreaties. All this suggests some mounting tensions between the White House and the Senate, at least over questions of short-term strategy.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 14, 2009; 5:57 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Yeah I mean god forbid the White House would actually use any of its political capital to move its signature domestic policy issue forward. But no, hey, "get it done," Harry Reid! That single Senator who's taken it upon himself to rule as an autocrat and just sort of capriciously reject any type of compromise EVEN ONES HE USED TO PUBLICLY SUPPORT -- he's not the problem. Nah, the real problem is just that Reid doesn't want it bad enough.

If this is true it's ridiculous. While I haven't been the biggest fan of Reid's control of this process, at least he's taking some responsibility to keep the different wings of the party on board through a VERY complicated and emotional process. The White House walked away after the President's address to Congress and has watched numbly as one compromise after another gets shot down. If Rahm knows of a way to "get it done," he should speak up with it at any time.

Posted by: NS12345 | December 14, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"at least over questions of short-term strategy."

If this is true, then short term strategy is all it is about. Reid should have never gone for the PO in the initial senate bill/ He misread Joe Lieberman and now we have a lot of unnecessary angst for something that could have been corrected in conference for the final game in the senate. Which is shaking out to be splitting the PO and passing reforms separate, and the PO by reconciliation.

The WH is just doing what needs doing, to keep long term strategy in play and on track. if true

Posted by: arnold104 | December 14, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Reid have more of an incentive to leak this than anyone else (especially in an election year)?

He'll look like he put up the good fight before he inevitably capitulates to the White House... this is something he has done a few times through this process.

Posted by: freemantristan | December 14, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Tell Rahm to f*ck off or go twist Lieberman's arm. That guy ought think of an actual strategy instead of strong arming people into caving. What a sell out.

Why is Rahm saying to make a deal with Lieberman? Why does it make sense to get Lieberman's vote and not seek Snowe's vote? I don't see the differential between Snowe and Lieberman except that Lieberman is a dishonest turd with no apparent motivation other than to punish Progressives.

Posted by: bcbulger | December 14, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Damn, Ezra. Looking at your posts from the initial Lieberman brouhaha through this, I have to say that you kicked some serious ass in a single daily work cycle. I hope to God they pay you a hell of a lot more than Krauthammer, Will and the rest of them put together, because you have a seriousness and work ethic on display here that puts the other opinon-mongers to shame. That goes for Dowd, Rich, and the rest at the Times as well. Krugman may be the only other indispensable "pundit" at a major daily. If you have a journalism degree, it sure doesn't show. (Joke!)

Posted by: brucds | December 14, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually I have to fault Krugman for not including any animal videos or recipes on his blog. What is that guy thinking ?

Posted by: brucds | December 14, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

hoping and praying you will come down off of your high horse:

Posted by: SisterRosetta | December 14, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Get back, Joe-Joe!

It's time to break up the band, DSCC.


Posted by: simonpaul2000 | December 14, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

How do you "get it done" with someone negotiating in bad faith? It seems to me Rahm ought to be saying "get it done" to LIEBERMAN not Reid. Joe is the obstacle. rather Joe's excessive ego, tender sensitivities and spiteful nature.

Posted by: Mimikatz | December 14, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I concur. What the hell is Rahm thinking? Lieberman is the issue here. Forget Reid, he seems to be putting forth an honest effort.

Reid should whip out the "reconciliation" card at this point. Take away Lieberman's importance, and he'll fold.

Posted by: flightofheaven | December 14, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I just can't figure out Obama's White House (and I guess that means Obama too).

I do believe in discussion and negotiation, even with enemies. But at some point yielding time after to time to demands that make no sense turns into cut and run, or unprincipled cowardice.

I would think by now that Barack would be sensitive to the accusation that he's just a speechmaker (with teleprompter) and not either a statesman domestically or a politician that can get things done. The old refrain: there is no there there keeps running through my mind.

Any petty politician, and LIEberman and Ben Nelson certainly qualify under that label is on notice. They can get anything they want from Obama by being an a**hole of the worst kind: narcisstic, vengeful, and completely dishonest.

I've never missed voting (for Dems) in elections in nearly 50 years, but my current view toward 2010 is to stay home, sit on my hands, and laugh my ass off as the Dems pull another 1994. Newt should run again, and dust off his 15 year old plan for Republican majorities into the 22nd century. One of the parties is dead. I thought it would be the GOP, but now I see that the Dems can't govern either. Or win legislative battles or media memes either.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | December 14, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

What Rahm did was terrible and inept... but much as I'd like to blame Rahm, you have to remember that "the Cossacks work for the Czar." I find it hard to believe that Obama delegated a blank check to Rahm when it came to health care negotiations.

Posted by: tyromania | December 14, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

This story, if true, should make clear to those still drinking the sugary kool aid, Obama and most Democrats want a health care bill passed, not necessarily at all a health care reform bill. Nearly anything will do, no matter how shortchanged millions of people are.

There is still a slight chance a bill with some modest reforms will be enacted, reforms in the sense of positive changes in the health care system that will be beneficial to the health of human beings in this country. But this seems increasingly unlikely.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | December 14, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Klein: In light of this, please revisit your assertion yesterday that legislation has little to do with Obama, and all depends on the median House member and the 60th Senator.

Though Obama cannot twist everyone's arms, no one believes that he can't twist a few. The fact that he chooses to twist Reid instead of Lieberman and Nelson shows that a) Obama's actions make a *big* difference (in terms of policy outcomes), and b) they have made things *much* worse. Taibbi and the rest seem well validated.

Posted by: Ulium | December 14, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

The Senate is the way it is and, unfortunately, 60 votes are required to get insurance reform with an end to pre-existing condition denial and rescission and with the creation of the exchanges and other insurance reforms and the beginnings of bending the cost curve. With that are subsidies that will enable 94% or more of people to be covered by insurance without increasing the deficit and while over time reducing what that deficit might otherwise be. This is a great accomplishment. The Dem party has been trying to do this for 60 years and now we are about to get it and yet some part of the base is not happy. That makes no sense. You support the Dems during the last 60 years but you wont in the next election after this passes-how does that make any sense. Nohting would more please the GOP because it gets what many progressives apparently do not. Obama is not giving anything away because to him the public option was never an end in itself-just one of th means to that end and he is not going to let the means become more important than the end. He will get this and then he and the Dems can work to add to it in the future with a public option or medicare buy-in which wont require but 50 Senate votes, building on the architecture already there. To deny affordable insurance to all of the people who will be helped by this legislation just because it has no public option or medicare buy-in is absurd, especially since nothing about this prevents adding them in the future. For liberals to refuse to pass this legislation because of its not containing a public option or medicare buy-in now would only demonstrate that maybe we are too stupid to govern and play into GOP hands. Nothing would please the GOP more than for liberals to get so pissed at Joe that they fail to take advantage of this golden opportunity to establish universal health insurance and then use improving it as an issue in future elections. Joe Lieberman is, in my opinion, acting out his own psychodrama against lib dems, but I fail to understand why that means that we have to give up a great liberal accomplishment just to keep him from influencing the legislative product. That makes just as little sense as what he is doing. Come on fellow liberals- arent we better than Joe Lieberman?

Posted by: gregspolitics | December 15, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Nice job, Mr. Klein.

It's time to seek single payer candidates.

This is simply not working. We have too many politicians that are so singularly for the corporate interests, that our "grade curve" is too low to be functional.
Any politician that is okay with thousands of us dying must be removed asap.
Americans of ALL Parties must unite and vote.

Posted by: ThePoliticalStraycom | December 15, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

"This is a great accomplishment. The Dem party has been trying to do this for 60 years and now we are about to get it and yet some part of the base is not happy."

The Democratic Party passes some level of healthcare reform every decade or so. The goal we've been working towards for 60 years is universal, affordable, high quality coverage. It is becoming increasingly clear that this bill just won't do that. Medicare and Medicaid -- considered to be incrementalist failures because of how far short they fell of universality -- were each FAR more ambitious than this bill.

At best we have a new regulatory structure for the private insurance market in the form of the exchanges. That's not nothing, but without a public option, nonprofit plan, or Medicare expansion, it's not really all that much a change either. This is just another incremental half-step. Which is fine! But it's not the fruition of Democrats' comprehensive healthcare vision.

Posted by: NS12345 | December 15, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

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