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White House encouraging Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman

Carrie Budoff Brown reports that the White House is encouraging Reid to simply cut a deal with Lieberman and slice the Medicare expansion out of the bill. Reid, it seems, isn't quite ready to do that yet.

A lot of the urgency here comes from the timing of the debate. Senate staffers tell me that getting a bill finished by Christmas requires a deal by Thursday or Friday of this week, at the latest. After that, you pretty much need six days to let cloture votes ripen (essentially, once you call a cloture vote, it takes 30 hours, and then another 30 hours if there isn't unanimous consent, and a few different cloture votes need to be called in succession).

You can, of course, let health-care reform drag beyond Christmas. But then things get trickier, as there are fewer natural deadlines to speed the process. At that point, the deadline becomes State of the Union, but it's a bit of an odd deadline, as it's not related to the congressional schedule. Meanwhile, as most participants in this debate recognize, a longer period of uncertainty is not the friend of reform.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 14, 2009; 2:05 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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So, we give up the public option and get... nothing.

Yeah. No one saw that coming.

Can the Medicare expansion be passed by reconciliation on its own, after the rest of this goes through?

Posted by: adamiani | December 14, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Sounds sensible to me.

Also, if a Medicare buy-in is politically feasible at all, couldn't it be introduced as a separate bill. Say, in February? I can't imagine such a piece of stand-alone legislation wouldn't easily qualify under reconciliation rules...

The modus operandi of the country's legislature seems not to adhere to any rules of common sense. It seems like things are FAR more complicated and difficult than they need be. Especially for a party with a majority.

Posted by: Jasper99 | December 14, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I see other posters are asking the same question. Does seem like a no-brainer...

Posted by: Jasper99 | December 14, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The problem here is that Reid probably takes Lieberman's betrayal personally and isn't in the mood to cut a deal.

Posted by: constans | December 14, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

How do you cut a deal with someone who isn't negotiasting in good faith? Unless you believe that this has all been about getting Obama to come crawling on his hands and knees to Lieberman, what is to keep him from reneging on any new deal he cuts with Reid like he reneged on the last one??

Lieberman doesn't deserve to be in the Senate, let alone the Dem party. He is a whining old embarassment willing to let tens of thousands of people die for his own personal pleasure in watching liberals squirm. What a despicable, evil man.

Posted by: Mimikatz | December 14, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

And what is Reid supposed to do when Lieberman reneges on the next deal, as he inevitably will? This is like the definition of insanity.

Posted by: ckenney1 | December 14, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

dispicable, evil man is not enough. You forgot dishonest, spiteful, self important, arrogant, and small. I am sure there are others. Holy joe has basically joined the party of no, he has no plan to help americans without health care, yet he wants to kill the only measure that might move toward that.

Posted by: srw3 | December 14, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

It's time for Reid to get rid of the filibuster. For the good of the country, blow it up, go nuclear.

Posted by: marvyT | December 14, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The White House just doesn't care whether it's a good bill or not. They want their "win". They just don't grasp that Bad Policy is Bad Politics on this issue.

The fact that they're rolling over on this, after rolling over on the Stim, doesn't bode well for how they'll do on Global Warming, Jobs Bill, Financial Reform and when the Deficit Hawks start squeezing. Ugh.


Posted by: toshiaki | December 14, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I never believe anything Politico "reports" until it actually happens or is verified by a legitimate news organization, if in fact, those still exist.

Posted by: arnold104 | December 14, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

well of course the white house is saying this. The balance of the Obama presidency rides on this. Harry may be gone either way but at least if he gets HCR done (albeit a horrible version of it) he can at least say he did that which no other Majority leader could do before. And all this with a 35% approval rating.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 14, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Ezra...and all concerned...can you please stop citing Politico as a sole source for any insider DC info? Politico has proven again and again that there slant is pro-republican and unreliable. Multiple sources, fine...Politico only, no.
As an aside, the health care reform debate is so fluid that quoting anonymous aides is especially unreliable and is not indicative of solid information.

Posted by: jevans1963 | December 14, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

What do we get for cutting a deal with Lieberman that basically amounts to cutting out the public option and any Medicare expansion?

We would likely lose both of those cutting a deal with Olympia Snowe. Actually, we might be able to keep a public option trigger. By negotiating with Snowe or even Collins, we also pick up the bonus of a collaborative effort containing no hint of political payback or spite that would factor into a Lieberman deal.

Lieberman has a personal motive for embarrassing Progressives, the President and the Congressional leadership. It's silly not to recognize this and act accordingly.

Posted by: bcbulger | December 14, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The Senate passing a bill now is the next. to the next to last act in a long tragi/comedy play. The final act is when the Senate final votes on a conference report.

I suspect, the WH is just telling Reid to appease Holy Joe, and whoever else just to get something passed to go to conference, where the REAL bill will be hocked together for a final vote.

And Joe's intransigence is looking more like he knows this fact, and if ANY bill gets out of the Senate now, it would set up the likely/possible final conference report to come back to the Senate floor, where Senate liberals could break in up and pass the PO by reconciliation. My two cents on what is happening.

I do believe that the Obama camp is not dumb enough to believe that just passing any old bill will placate the base enough to avoid a democrat slaughter for the mid term election coming up/

Posted by: arnold104 | December 14, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Arnold104, you are certainly optimistic in the face of a very bad situation. I can no longer see how this ends well unless Lieberman is met by 4 Dem Senators in a dark alley.

Posted by: Mimikatz | December 14, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I think if this does happen, both Joe and Barack will go down in 2012.

Very disappointed in Obama, not at all surprised about Lieberman, look forward to seeing him lose in CT in 2012. I am 31, and many of my friends who voted for Obama are very, very disappointed in him.

Posted by: bwparker1 | December 14, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Mimikatz --- I don't really think I was being optimistic, but just relaying the process. But truth be told, I am not all that pessimistic either. I just believe that even fumbling dems, or enough of them, understand the catastrophe that awaits, if they don't pass something that will at least get the federal government in the game and being a player, however small for now, as an alternative to having the private sector as the only option to getting HC coverage.

But Murphy's law is always omnipresent in these things, so we will see.

Posted by: arnold104 | December 14, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

No public option.
No Medicare expansion.

Sounds like a great deal for industry.
But a bad deal for taxpayers and elderly.

All for a "win."

Posted by: RandomWalk1 | December 14, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

If he is going to cut a deal with Lieberman and Nelson, why not cut a deal with 10 Republicans and make this bill bipartisan so it has some real staying power. Throw in serious medical malpractice reform and lower the subsidies to lower the cost. I bet you can get 10 Republicans once the public option and the Medicare expansion is tossed overboard. Make the bill bipartisan as all major legislation should rightly be.

Posted by: lancediverson | December 14, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

: lancediverson --your kidding right? all bills should be bipartisan/ typical winger forgets about the past eight years of Bush/GOP doing whatever the f they wanted. And keeping democrats in the dog closet.

You should tune into Ezra's latest post. Compromise? already been done and still nothin' from Holy Joe.

The only way that any bill will be embraced from the GOP is for dems to fully surrender their gavels and let the RW write the bill. Otherwise their strategy is to accept absolutely nothing the dems propose.

Posted by: arnold104 | December 14, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The "white house" needs to grow a pair.

Posted by: slantedview | December 14, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

arnold104 - You don't know enough so you should probably not post and waste internet space.

Republicans had a fair amount of Democratic support for No Child Left Behind, the wars in Iraq and Afganistan, McCain/Feingold, tax cuts, and Medicare Modernization. It is simply not true that there were no Democratic votes for these large and important accomplishments over the last 8 years.

There was zero Democratic support for Social Security reform and that is precisely why it failed, as should ANY major reform that does not have some bipartisan support.

Posted by: lancediverson | December 14, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

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