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The Republicans' genius compromise strategy

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David Leonhardt has a nice piece running through the basic dynamics of not only tomorrow's summit, but health-care reform from here on out. A lot of the piece is a discussion of compromises: What's blocking them, and what's possible yet.

But the difficulty with this discussion is that the GOP has accidentally hit upon a brilliant insight: The best way to guarantee substantive concessions is to refuse to compromise. Think about the plan that Barack Obama and the Democrats have been left with: It's not single payer. There's no public option. It doesn't cover all of the uninsured. It doesn't change the insurance of about 90 percent of the country. It doesn't add to the deficit. It pays for itself with difficult, unpopular and necessary reforms in entitlement programs. It includes a commission to make future reforms of Medicare and Medicaid both easier and less politically dangerous for Republicans.

In fact, the Senate health-care bill looks a lot like Wyden-Bennett -- but smaller, and more incremental, and more respectful of the status quo. That is to say, it looks like a more traditionally conservative incarnation of Wyden-Bennett. And it got that way not because Republicans compromised, but because they didn't compromise.

As Democrats came to realize that they couldn't get Republican votes for the bill by adding policies that Republican senators supported, they began trimming their ambitions in order to keep their caucus together. As they came to realize that they couldn't pass the legislation without their most conservative members, they gave their most conservative members a veto card over the bill's provisions. The result is legislation that's not only much more conservative and incremental than what past presidents have proposed, but is also much more conservative than the major health-care reforms -- namely Medicare and Medicaid -- that past presidents have passed. And Republicans got these substantive concessions not by making a deal, but by not making a deal.

So even putting the political incentive to kill this bill aside, why should Republicans who care about conservative policy think that coming to the table will make for policy they prefer? In a small sense, it's true that they could have gotten more tort reform if they were willing to vote for the bill. But in a larger sense, the bill would have been much more liberal if Democrats expected they could get Republican votes by adding tort reform to the legislation.

Photo credit: By Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

By Ezra Klein  |  February 24, 2010; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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Comments

Note that after credibly explaining the degree to which the HCR bill(s) incorporate Republican ideas, Leonhardt ended with a really strange, unsupported throwaway:

"It depends on what you mean by bipartisanship. Nothing is stopping Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats from adding more Republican ideas to their health plan — and not just fig leaves. If the Democrats did that, they would have a bill worthy of the name bipartisan."

Posted by: sprung4 | February 24, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats could use a more healthy sense of tribalism and spite in these things. The rational move for conservative Democrats would be to punish the Republicans for not compromising by spitefully turning around and supporting the more liberal provisions of the bill so to create a disincentive for the Republicans to refuse to play ball in the future. Instead, the conservadems realized that their own self interest was to use the lack of Republican support against the Democrats in order to help themselves, but that is a problem of lots of institutions: the congressmen were thinking about their own position of power within the party rather than the power of the party.

Posted by: constans | February 24, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Why does no-one speak English any more?

I think you mean:

"The Republicans' INGENIOUS compromise strategy"

Posted by: Modicum | February 24, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

False premises abound. Liberal Dem leadership saw an opportunity for "universal healthcare," and completely ignored conservative inputs which were ideologically opposed. The real mandate driving reform was/is skyrocketing premiums, not coverage itself.

But the libs didn't count on conservative resistance from moderate Dems -- Stupak against abortion, Blue Dogs against single-payer. And in the Senate, single payer, the public option and Medicare buy-in were all shot down (again, by Dems), leaving only mandates as the basis for "universal healthcare."

If Republicans start changing the form of this legislature it'll be the first they've touched it. The Stupak language they supported in the House is gone. Whatever Snowe agreed to on the Finance Committee was replaced in Harry Reid's office. Everything that's here is a product of DEMOCRATS, including and especially, THE COMPROMISES.

Posted by: cpurick | February 24, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - Exactly correct, that is why your earlier post as to what Obama can "trade" was so off base. The Republicans have figured out they can take and take and take, as long as they don't give.

Back when Dems were the minority in the Senate they feared doing what the Republicans are now doing. They thought they would appear obstructionist if they just routinely said no all the time. They thought they would be punished at the ballot box. Republicans don't have this fear because they know their message machine is far superior to the Democrats.

One of the stunning things about this dynamic is that Republicans STILL complain about the MSM/liberal media. It would be funny if it were not so pathetic. How can anyone believe it?

Posted by: nisleib | February 24, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I just hope that the repiglican ideas in the health care bill are emphasized in the HCR summit to show the repiglicans as the dishonest, power hungry, obstructors that they are.

The bill is way to conservative and incremental to have a systemic change in the health care industry. Conservadems are happy to cut off their nose (eviscerating the progressive parts of the bill that make it more effective, less costly and more popular, ie the public option/medicare for all or at least more) to spite their face (their party's ability to control congress). The irony of this is that conservadems in the house are the most vulnerable because they come mostly from swing districts. Since they have effectively made HCR into a repiglican lite bill, the dem base won't come out for them and they will most likely lose their seats. I don't understand why the conservadems want to sabotage their own reelection chances by fighting their own leadership on substance. If they kill the bill in the house, they will get no credit for it, because it already passed once. Repiglicans will paint all dems as health care socialists anyway. Why not at least allow the bill to pass so they have something to run on?

Posted by: srw3 | February 24, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

But is this a lasting strategy? Now that everyone knows how a minority party will act, will majorities even try to spend whole years courting minority participation? The next time the Dems try to pass major legislation, won't they, burned as they were this time, just count on reconcilliation from the start?

Posted by: MosBen | February 24, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this is why divided government works better. The Democrats during the Reagan Administration, and the GOP during the Clinton Admin, had incentives to compromise. They shared credit for the legislative accomplishments. Single-party government enhances the association of the president's agenda with the president, as opposed to an executive/congressional partnership.

Posted by: jduptonma | February 24, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"The best way to guarantee substantive concessions is to refuse to compromise."

And have spineless opponents that have absolutely no brains at all.

Posted by: AZProgressive | February 24, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Did you see the new CNN poll?

I've come to believe that the Reagan Narrative remains the sturdy axis of American politics, all the familiar myths. This is a center-right country. The Greatest Generation of old white Anglo-Saxon men are the soul and brains of our society. Government is the problem, not the solution. The rich deserve to have their extravagant lifestyles supported by middle- and working-class taxes. If you get sick, it's your own damn fault. Democrats want to fork over your hard-earned tax dollars to all those black welfare queens and their illegitimate children. Democrats are gay Latinos trying to convert your children. And on and on . . .

There's no other way, really, to explain how badly Obama and the Democrats have performed this year. Anyone who came of age before and during the Reagan years -- i.e. anyone who could vote before 1992 -- are susceptible to this perverse notion that only Democrats need to make concessions, that Republicans are more authentically American and deserve to rule, even when elections prove otherwise. Hell, the current President has constantly praised the Gipper as "transformational," a political role model.

I think we're going to have to wait for a new generation of voters -- and, more importantly, media -- to truly change this country, those millennials for whom George W. Bush was the defining Republican, not Saint Ronnie.

Posted by: scarlota | February 24, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"But is this a lasting strategy? Now that everyone knows how a minority party will act, will majorities even try to spend whole years courting minority participation? The next time the Dems try to pass major legislation, won't they, burned as they were this time, just count on reconcilliation from the start? "

I doubt it, MosBen.

Reconciliation is always an option, but it is not the perfect option. The "Byrd Rule" will shoot down any aspect of a bill that does not meet the narrow criteria of reconciliation (and it takes, you guessed it, 60 votes to waive the Byrd Rule), plus there are provisions in reconciliation that can create a "sunset" provision...part of the reasons that the Bush tax cuts came to us with an expiration date.

So, like recess appointments, it is an option, but best saved as the last resort, because of the downsides.

I am all for elimination of the fillibuster and always having a simple up or down vote in the Senate, and if that ever happens, reconciliation happily becomes an irrelevant mechanism.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@cpuricik:

" Liberal Dem leadership saw an opportunity for "universal healthcare," and completely ignored conservative inputs which were ideologically opposed"
-the individual mandate is a repiglican idea
-having only private insurers is a repiglican idea
-selling insurance across state lines is a repiglican idea
-the insurance exchanges is repiglican idea

All of these were in the baker/dole proposal and in the repiglican counter to the clinton HCR proposal.

The real problem was that Obama didn't make the repiglicans fight to get these ideas into the bill and basically gave away the store before bargaining began.

" Blue Dogs against single-payer. And in the Senate, single payer, the public option and Medicare buy-in were all shot down. "

FYI there was never a single payer option in either the house or senate bills. The HCR bill is basically the same as the centrist proposal made by baker, dole, and daschle, ie a bill that incorporates many repiglican ideas.

The medicare buy in and public option were only stifled in the senate because repiglicans insisted on using procedural votes (filibustering)to stop these proposals. If there was a straight up or down vote, something that repiglicans regularly screamed for when they were in power, HCR would have passed last fall.

Falsehoods abound mostly in your post.

Posted by: srw3 | February 24, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Would be true except for the fact that the most liberal Republican is more conservative than the most conservative Democrat. So compromising within the caucus necessarily leads to a more liberal bill that compromising outside of it.

Posted by: pj_camp | February 24, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"-the individual mandate is a repiglican idea"
So what? I said they ignored *conservative* inputs. It's not a conservative idea. Point:cpurick.

-having only private insurers is a repiglican idea
It's nobody's "idea." It's a characteristic of the marketplace. Rejecting state-based alternatives like single payer, the public option and the Medicare buy-in are all the work of *Democrats*.

"-selling insurance across state lines is a repiglican idea"
"-the insurance exchanges is repiglican idea"
...which are there only thanks to moderate Dems. If it was up to lib leadership, we'd be looking at single-payer.

" Blue Dogs against single-payer. And in the Senate, single payer, the public option and Medicare buy-in were all shot down. "

"FYI there was never a single payer option in either the house or senate bills."
Only because there weren't enough Democrats in either chamber to support it. It's still the option of choice for anti-capitalist flaming liberals everywhere.

"The HCR bill is basically the same as the centrist proposal made by baker, dole, and daschle, ie a bill that incorporates many repiglican ideas."

Republican support is for market-based solutions to address rising costs. These are not additional features with which you can buy GOP support for a bill designed to enact "universal healthcare." That's not the problem the GOP wants to solve. Republicans want these things INSTEAD of universal healthcare. Republicans want healthcare cheap enough that everyone can afford it. That's not the same as healthcare for sick people, paid for by the slavery of young healthy people and the sacrifice of costly and "unnecessary" end-of-life patients.

Posted by: cpurick | February 24, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

cpurick, single payer was never on the table to begin with. What the heck are you talking about?

*Republicans want these things INSTEAD of universal healthcare. Republicans want healthcare cheap enough that everyone can afford it. *

Healthcare doesn't work that way, because you can't very well decide to pass up chemotherapy if it costs too much and instead buy some kind of alternate product.

* That's not the same as healthcare for sick people,*

This is a great summary of the Republicans' problem: they're against health care for sick people.

Posted by: constans | February 24, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

In overall concept, the major difference comes down to Republicans specifically and conservatives in general (meaning Dem and Inds too) do not want government except in cases where it advances their narrow interests. Democrats in general and liberals specifically see government as a tool (not the final answer) for social improvements. In the end, conservatives of any stripe do have a philsophical interest in confounding whatever liberals want to achieve because they're not interested in the process of creation, but the process of destruction.

Posted by: Jaycal | February 24, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"That's not the same as healthcare for sick people, paid for by the slavery of young healthy people and the sacrifice of costly and "unnecessary" end-of-life patients."

As I have pointed out in other threads...

There is no "slavery" in the HCR package, and the constant use of that term in connection with mandating health insurance coverage is a trivialization of the true meaning of the word, and it only serves to deflate any force your arguments might otherwise have had.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

In retrospect do you think it was a mistake to allow a video of Jacob Hacker (and other liberals) to get on YouTube and reveal to every American in the United States exactly what liberals would do on healthcare were they ever to successfully obtain the White House and a Super Majority in the Congress?

In seems like the cynicism that was triggered when Americans openly saw partisan duplicity center-stage led to this whole era of polarizing & partisan politics.

It seems now the only best move that Obama & Pelosi can really make is to re-open Single-Payer, try and get a full vote in congress on it, and after that fails, take whatever they can get a majority of Republicans to sign on for---and pass it with only centrist-Democrats and centrist-Republicans. Unfortunately, Obama & Pelosi don't have a clue on how to do anything that is in any way centrist. They still insit their plan (which they know is designed to morph into a Single-Payer system) is a centrist plan.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 24, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

If Democrats really want a determistic path to victory on healthcare, they'd redeisgn healthcare into many small bills and shame Republicans on each small issue one-by-one. For starters, how about giving every single American citizen a tax write-off for their healthcare....this could be sold as a jobs bill as well as a healthcare bill!

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 24, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"For starters, how about giving every single American citizen a tax write-off for their healthcare....this could be sold as a jobs bill as well as a healthcare bill!"

Are you really unaware the medical expenses can be itemized as tax-deductions already?

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

This strategy only works if your opponents have no backbone.

Posted by: AxelDC | February 24, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"In retrospect do you think it was a mistake to allow a video of Jacob Hacker (and other liberals) to get on YouTube and reveal to every American in the United States exactly what liberals would do on healthcare were they ever to successfully obtain the White House and a Super Majority in the Congress?"

This like saying that a speech by George Lincoln Rockewell would reveal to every American in the United States exactly what conservatives would do on healthcare were they ever to successfully obtain the White House and a Super Majority in the Congress.

FastEddie, have you ever tried to make a serious argument of any kind?

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

What's most pernicious here is that Democrats are facing massive electoral losses after operating with great responsibility and in very good faith.

They did exactly what a majority is supposed to do. They put together a bill that was a compromise in an attempt to get members of the minority to cross over. The bill is fiscally very, very sound--a radical break from the initiatives passed under Bush. They took on their own base and some tough political fights to put in cost-containment. They are taking a political risk by hiking taxes to pay for this. They were willing to horsetrade on the little stuff to get the big deal done. They took a LOT of time to get this done, and gave members of the minority every opportunity to cross over.

Does anyone doubt that Obama would personally raise money and/or appear for any Republican who supported this bill? Does anyone doubt he'd have made substantive concessions on sacred cows like malpractice if Republicans would cut a deal?

And what have Democrats gotten in return for responsible governance?

Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

I understand why voters are screaming bloody murder on the Dems. Voters don't pay much attention to this stuff, and the reality is we have 10% unemployment. Things stink. We should totally throw the bums out.

But I am flummoxed as to why professional media outlets are incapable of calling out the Republicans here. False equivalence has gone so far that there are simply no incentives anymore for anything approaching responsible governance.

If the Washington Post, allegedly obsessed with deficits and allegedly eager for politicians to be responsible, refuses to notice the unbelievable difference between this healthcare bill and Bush's healthcare bill, and refuses to give the Democrats credit for governing responsibly, I don't really know where we go from here.

This healthcare process has simply not been a failure of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, or the Democratic Party. Likewise, it has not been a triumph by Boehner or McConnell.

Structurally, our system of government--from a standpoint both de jure according to its procedures and de facto according to the "Villagers" who influence its culture and decisions--our system is simply proving itself incapable of sustaining responsible governance.

If the phrase that best sums up the collapse of the French Aristocracy was "let them eat cake," I think our Marie Antoinette will be Dick Cheney: "Deficits don't matter."

Posted by: theorajones1 | February 24, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

ROTLMAO that the words "Republican" and "genius" were used together! Yeah, right! STILL ROTFLMAO!

Posted by: kincseslori | February 24, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

And yet every time we start saying "you know, we're in reconciliation, we could pretty reasonably pass a public option with 51 votes," you start talking about how unrealistic it is and how those not signing on are bravely telling truth to the well-intentioned but misguided activist base.

You can't appease the Republican party, you need sticks to go with the carrots.

Posted by: adamiani | February 24, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The GOP should be careful with these 'professional liars'in other words going to the h/p summit by is bo like going into a ' den of thieves'Tread with caution they are just waiting to cast blame on the GOP and tried to win in NOV10.
bo CANNOT BE TRUSTED ANYMORE- everying comes out of his mouth -is PATHOLOGICAL has many faces of lying.

Posted by: somers91 | February 24, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

If you make it profitable for private industry to reduce the cost of health care prices will go down. Free market solutions using our best and brightest is the real solution to many of our nations problems.

Whether Republican or Democrat, the federal government has proven ad nauseum they are not capable of running much of anything. Our politicians..including big guv guy Obama are not our best and brightest by a long shot

Posted by: Straightline | February 24, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

It has been my observation over the years that the Democrats's idea of bipartisanship is for Republicans to agree to whatever the Democrats want. So it has been in the health care debate. The Republicans have not "refused to compromise" with the Democrats, they have been excluded from the discussion by the Democrats.
The Democrats have not listened to any of the ideas proposed by the Republicans: allow insurance sales across state lines, require coverage of prior illnesses, significant tort reform. All of changes you enumerated about were to get democrats to sign on to the program. Remember, the Democrats have a large majority in the House, but the bill barely passed. And the Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and barely got a bill passed.
Also, whilst the American public wants to see some manner of health insurance reform, they have shown a great amount of dislike for this plan.
By starting with some variation of the House or Senate plan tomorrow, the Democrats have shown that they do not want real input from the Republicans, they just want to be able to say they discussed the plan. If they wanted real input, they would start with a blank piece of paper and take input from both sides.
So don't go blaming the Republicans for "refusing to compromise", blame the Democrats for refusing to listen. Both the the Republicans and to the people.

Posted by: OveyFan | February 24, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Theorajones1:

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I agree with much of it. But wasn't GOP obstructionism plainly evident, when the entire Republican House caucus voted against the stimulus bill, larded up with Susan Collins' tax cuts for rich folks? Why o why did Obama and Dems like Baucus and Reid then spend months publicly bargaining away the PO and pretty much everything else the base wanted, only to face an electoral bloodbath this fall? And why did such lovers of the administration like EK and Benen and Yglesias chide progressives about how unnecessary the PO was and how the 60-vote strategy was vastly preferable to reconciliation?

Why?

Posted by: scarlota | February 24, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

As a manufacturer who pays out thousands a month in health care payments, I'd like to castigate both parties for their querulous, timidity and half a loaf mentality. For the Democrats, you should have greased the treads of your tanks with the Republicans guts, when you had the chance, as it will never come again. Cowards. For the Republicans: your pathetic, plodding, incremental approach to reform helps American business not at all. Please drop dead. A pox on both your houses.

Posted by: tschmidt | February 24, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The thing I never see mentioned is the fact that although the democrats have a majority, so do conservatives. Only, conservatives are found on both sides of the aisle. Let's count the conservatives/ moderates and liberals for a change instead of D/R.

Posted by: LauraNo | February 24, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Modicum asked, "Why does no-one speak English any more? I think you mean: 'The Republicans' INGENIOUS compromise strategy'"

I think you've both erred; actually, it should read, "The Republicans' DISINGENUOUS compromise."

Posted by: joeyangel1 | February 24, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

It hardly took 'genius' on the part of the Republicans. It simply took stupidity, arrogance and duplicity on the part of the Democratic non-leadership. In both process and substance, the Democratic leadership has bungled the entire effort.

Process:
Judging from the spectacle of the President’s public humiliation, it’s evident he’s lost the support of virtually all Americans. If this is what he meant by 
‘consensus’, he’s achieved it: moderates, conservatives and liberals are united 
in their opposition.

The ‘reforms’ are variously considered a sham, trivial or an
institutionalization of the current disastrous health care system (only with 
more public subsidies to the insurance industry). The complete and utter 
powerlessness of this President is all too evident in the drama unfolding in DC, as he seeks ‘bi-partisanship’ for a proposal the voters of neither party support. 


Substance:
The confusion and endless gyrations evident in the plan (try reading it) are the result of trying to fit ‘reform of the system’ into the system’s current contorted, inefficient and costly contours (in other words, the plan is not a ‘reform’, but more pasting things on to a broken system).

Here’s what the people wanted when the Democrats started:

“A mere seven months ago (that would be around June 2009), The New York 
Times/CBS poll found that 72% of Americans ‘supported a government-
administered insurance plan—something like Medicare for those under 65—
that would compete for customers with private insurers.’”

From then until now, Obama has:

1. Rejected single payer;

2. Stiff-armed the government option; 

3. Mandated individuals and families pay premiums to private sector insurers; 

4. Assured billions in tax payer subsidies for private sector insurers; 

5. Stipulated actual health care service at 80 cents of every dollar, while 
insurers can spend 20 cents of every premium dollar on lobbying, ‘sympathetic’ 
candidates, CEO bonuses, ‘administration’, fighting claims for treatment and, 
now we can add, participating on the new Federal ‘rate review’ Board.

The substance of the President’s proposal is the current costly, inefficient and 
ineffective insurance system on Federal steroids.
The process, which the President invited on himself, is resulting in little more than the public pillorying of the 
weakest President since Jimmy Carter.

If Obama wanted to cast himself as a leader, this was surely his last chance, and he blew it with a plan to keep the current system in place, while supplementing it with taxpayers’ money in the form of mandated premium payments and Federal ‘subsidies’. That’s no reform at all.

Along time ago, the public knew it - i.e. there's no real reform. The Republicans, geniuses or not, surely can see that, too. Unfortunately, the Democrats, apparently, cannot see it or think the public doesnt. Dumb.

Posted by: theworm1 | February 24, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"This is a great summary of the Republicans' problem: they're against health care for sick people."

Not really. The complete quote, which you conveniently edited, was concerned with the liberal strategy for paying for it.

If you're so sure of your position then defend it instead of mischaracterizing mine like a coward.

Posted by: cpurick | February 24, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

In regards the post by Straightline: "What a dreamer".
The attempt by the free market to correct our problems in health and finance are responsible for the mess we are in today.
Why do people continually say that the government can not run anything?. Are they the same people that now condemn the government for not calling Toyota on the carpet for defects.

Posted by: bfree123 | February 24, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"The thing I never see mentioned is the fact that although the democrats have a majority, so do conservatives. Only, conservatives are found on both sides of the aisle. Let's count the conservatives/ moderates and liberals for a change instead of D/R."

And it is particularly significant how well-placed the red state Democrats have been in critical committee positions throughout this mess...the key roles of people like Baucus and Conrad, for example.

Conrad evidently said today that the reconciliation bill must come after passage of the Senate bill by the House, which will be a fresh source of friction, resentment and resistance among House Democrats, who are rightly frustrated with their colleagues in the Senate.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"Free market solutions using our best and brightest is the real solution to many of our nations problems."

Straightline, have you heard about the collapse of the American economy in 2008 that resulted from the government deregulation and resulting "free market activity" of the banks?

Check it out. It was in all the papers.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans have discovered that it is good politics to oppose legislation that is opposed by a majority of the voters.

Too bad the Democrats didn't figure that out.
It will cost them come November.

Posted by: Opinionator | February 24, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey genius, the compromise was between factions of the Democratic Party. Since when did the Republicans ever factor in? So Obama decides to hold a charade of a summit after already crafting his own bill out of what the House and Senate Dems came up with. How good of him to finally invite the Repubs into the room. I'm not a big fan of the Republicans... they had their chance to do something about health reform and didn't. But Howard Dean was right... this bill does not do what was originally intended, and the only reason it's still on the table has everything to do with saving face and very little to do with helping those it claims to help. It's a sham, as is this summit. For you guys it's all about politics and never about real reform that solves real problems. This bill will only add to existing problems. Maybe the Repubs are right... When something is bad the only sane course is to just say no.

Posted by: lbataille55 | February 24, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I am confused-if the Democrats' plan is so small and incremental, why does it cost so much, not take effect for years and why disapproved by the majority of citizens??

Posted by: jnsphorn | February 24, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

obama, and the democrats, are bound and determined to ram this down our throats. The repubs are not a whole heck of a lot better in their spending habits. Vote out incumbants. It's in our hands as Americans. John Stewart told Larry King that we Americans are not smart enough to care. I hope that is not true although complacency seems rampant.

Posted by: carbar4647 | February 24, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

This isn't "brilliant", it's common sense. Refusing to support a Secretary that is "beyond judicial review", mandatory participation and price fixing isn't accidental; it's honorable. The bills passed by the House and Senate are pure evil. Anyone who supports expanded government control of the health care economy should be voted out of office. Should such a bill pass, it is the duty of the next Congress to de-fund it, to neuter it and to repeal it. It is the duty of honorable American to refuse to participate in this monstrosity.

Posted by: egbegb | February 24, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of Groucho Marx's act in which he is hiring himself out as a musician. He insists that he should be paid more for not rehearsing than for rehearsing.
(Being paid for the quality of noise)

Posted by: Glittbryt | February 24, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Theorajones1 writes: "...Democrats are facing massive electoral losses after operating with great responsibility and in very good faith."

RESPONSIBILITY?? GOOD FAITH?? In the same sentence no less!

"They put together a bill that was a compromise in an attempt to get members of the minority to cross over. The bill is fiscally very, very sound... "

The health care proposal as written is not liked or wanted by a majority of the people in the country! And to imply something is "fiscally very sound" when it's purely an entitlement is truly a joke! "Fiscally sound" should NOT cost us a trillion dollars!

"Does anyone doubt that Obama would personally raise money and/or appear for any Republican who supported this bill?"

Yes, I doubt that.

"Does anyone doubt he'd have made substantive concessions on sacred cows like malpractice if Republicans would cut a deal?"

Yes, I doubt that, too. Obama is a Chicago-grown politician. They don't campaign for the "opposition". Grow up, for Pete's sake!

"And what have Democrats gotten in return for responsible governance?"

There has been NOTHING reasonable about the Democrats in their "governance" so far... It's been "their way or the highway". What have you been smoking? It must be some REALLY good stuff!

Posted by: Greg_12 | February 24, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"Think about the plan that Barack Obama and the Democrats have been left with: It's not single payer. There's no public option. It doesn't cover all of the uninsured. It doesn't change the insurance of about 90 percent of the country. It doesn't add to the deficit. It pays for itself with difficult, unpopular and necessary reforms in entitlement programs."

whoa there Ezra. You lost me when you said "It pays for itself with difficult, unpopular and necessary reforms in entitlement prgorams"

I thought that the OVERPAYMENT to insurers for Medicare advantage was a big chunk of where this was coming from? Also no mention of the NEW ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM that's being started? Just like you to mention the good news without the bad.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 24, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Why all the ranting and railing toward the Republicans? They are not the only ones against this debacle. Independents, and some Democrats I know do not want it either. It is the majority of the American public that screams NO. It is this same majority that are the obstructionists of this monstrosity.

Republican leaders are listening to the people. Democrats in office are too busy trying to create, for themselves, a legacy and do not care what the people want or think. They will care, however, come November.

Posted by: inmanorj | February 24, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

UNLESS and UNTIL all Senators and all Representatives drop the "R's" and the "D's" behind their names and substitute "A's" for Americans.....nothing will be accomplished.

This is NOT a football game. Americans voted these idiots into office to govern, legislate and protect the interests of Americans.

As long as the "R" and the "D" behind their names is their primary concern in support of their person interest in re-election, their ideologies and their party control, rather than the interests of the American people......they have failed miserably to do their jobs.

Vote them all out and let's start over.

Posted by: maxandmurray | February 24, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Note to Patrick M: the banking crisis was due to the banks giving loans to those who could not afford them. At the instructions of Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and their friends at Fanny and Sally. These banks were forced to come up with these plans to avoid government crack downs, and would not have done so with out the threat of government, because they don't make business sense. There was strong feelings that this practice would lead to economic problems, which it did. By the way, that was in the papers, too. New York Times, September 30, 1999. Oh, wait, that was before Bush.

Posted by: OveyFan | February 24, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

OveyFan,

I did not say that the banking crisis was caused by republicans or that it was caused by democrats. I said that it was caused by the "free market activity" of the banks after they were deregulated. I will be the first to admit that many democrats supported the deregulation, to their ever-lasting discredit.

I know that the standard partisan talking point on right wing talk radio is to blame the financial crisis on Barnie Frank and Fannie & Freddie. But the crisis was not the result of a few poor minorities getting no-money-down mortgages.

The housing crisis was caused by banks inflating the housing bubble by giving loans to people at every income level with insufficient money down and poor verification of income. That was step 1.

Step 2, which was much worse, was the selling off of the dicey loans, sliced and diced into complex securities, so that the lenders were not assuming the risk of their own bad loans (moral hazard). Add to that the credit default insurance swaps, the extreme over-leveraging, the corrupt rating system, and many other "free market" innovations following deregulation, and you begin to get to the mess that collapsed the banking system.

It is convenient to say that Barney Frank did it, but saying so is simply evidence that you have not bothered to look at what caused the collapse.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein: What you need to realize is that the rule of law involves the consent of the governed, not the mere consent of the government, and the Republicans and a number of Democrats sense this intimately, although not consistently. I would love some wonderful solution on health care to appear, but it is not magic, and I do not trust the people in charge now to develop any solution that avoids wiping out my retirement savings, ruining the money supply, and giving a massive amount of power to elite "wise guys" who have questionable morals and ends in mind. These are the same "geniuses" that have told us that we are living in a post industrial age, where we can import much of what we consume while building an unimaginable burden of debt and incompetence to leave our future generations. Many of them also don't even respect our right to live, especially at the stages prior to birth, or our right to honorably work for a decent wage. These "geniuses" have been scheming to break us down into 2 classes, the poor (us) and the elite (them). They have attacked the middle class and a prosperous upper working class for over a generation now, and we should trust them with our health care, too?

Posted by: cmarrf | February 24, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

There's an outstanding component to the current Health Bill that President Obama has chosen to ignore or which is more important to him than the whole bill itself.

That is the drastic increase in Federal funding for Abortion. So there I've said the A word.

But it is a sticking point for any one of the 37 Democrats in the House who voted for the Stupak amendment and held out for its addition before they would vote for that version of the bill. The Senate stripped it from their version and added even more abortion funding in their package.

Over 70% of the public are opposed to including such funding in this health care package but the President, his addministration or the Senate diehards seem ready to have the bill go to its doom rather than strip it out and restore the Stupak amendment language.

That one change would in all likelihood put the Democrats over the edge on votes and might very possibly garner some Republican support. But the intense abortion agenda of the President and some in Congress obviously nixed that option.

And this newspaper and all the other commentaries I've read in the press also have chosen to pass over this subject entirely or ignore this single change that would reverse so much of the Bill's opposition.

Well, we'll see what comes. A prominent international figure told the President earlier this year, "If you cannot support but ignore the most basic of natural law, life for all innocents; then nothing in your agenda will succeed." Maybe the President should remember and ponder that advice and reconsider how they tailor this final bill.

Posted by: tzelaney | February 24, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

In regards the post by Straightline: "What a dreamer".
The attempt by the free market to correct our problems in health and finance are responsible for the mess we are in today.
Why do people continually say that the government can not run anything?. Are they the same people that now condemn the government for not calling Toyota on the carpet for defects.

Posted by: bfree123 | February 24, 2010 2:55 PM

-------------------------------------------

Just proves the federal government can't do anything right. They should only be involved in oversight and regulation and not running things. They are a failure at both.

Posted by: Straightline | February 24, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Lets make this issue so simple that a child can understand it. The simple fact is that, while politicians retain 100% healthcare benefits, supplied by tax-payers, politicians are going to continue voting down healthcare reform. If the American people really want Healthcare Reform, there is only one way to get it. REMOVE all healthcare benefits, from politicians grasp. I guarantee that, if the American people remove all health benefits, from the politicians, that the following will happen. As soon as injured, and sick, Republicans, and Democrats, go to hospitals, only to hear "Your coverage has been cancelled, by the American people", I guarantee that both parties will be in a race, stepping over one another, to sign onto healthcare reform, as President Obama has laid it out. Right now, they say "Who cares? WE have coverage, and thats all that matters" Take their coverage away, and healthcare reform will pass so fast that even light speed will seem slow, by comparison. As long as the politicians have their safety-net, they can relax, and say "eventually". Take away their "safety-net" of healthcare coverage, and see how fast they pass Universal Coverage!

Posted by: powderpuff2364 | February 24, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I have looked into the problem, and have researched the root cause. If banks had not been coerced into making these loans that were not supportable by the incomes of the borrowers and assets involved, the secondary market for derivitives and other financial securities would not have been necessary. That is not to say that there would not have been such a market, but I do not believe that it would have been so virulent. Greed is always a problem in the financial world, as it is in the world outside of finance.

I just don't believe that government is always the answer. It is my opinion that if someone gets greedy and does something stupid, and goes broke, then they go broke. Next time they won't do something stupid. When government steps in and rescues them, they learn that they can do whatever they want, and someone will save them. Thus perpetuating stupid actions.

But I'm getting off track. See the following article.

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/30/business/fannie-mae-eases-credit-to-aid-mortgage-lending.html?sec=&spon=&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Posted by: OveyFan | February 24, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Everyone wants health care for people that never get sick, as soon as your health starts to fail, the ones who make a living off the sick and dying have a fit.If you have a health problem that needs a lot of medical help, just go some place and lay down and die. This will make all health care reform happy. Everyone should pay a little towards health care and there would be enough money for everyone who gets sick.Not everyone can be so lucky to have great genes.Those who are healthy, should be happy to help the less fortunate. Give every one the same health Insurance as everyone in the government gets. They all make enough money to pay for their own Insurance. Dick Cheney is costing us a fortune to keep him well.With all his money, why should we have to keep paying for him and others who are in the same boat that work for the government. This is a form of Welfare for politicians.

Posted by: peggydlhk | February 24, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@joeyangel1:

"I think you've both erred; actually, it should read, 'The Republicans' DISINGENUOUS compromise'."

Touché :)

Posted by: Modicum | February 24, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

We always hear about "thinking outside the box" but in Washington it's seldom practiced.Powderpuff's suggestion for how to "solve" the health care dilemma is startling for it's simplicity and originality. We will all rush to agree that what she suggests would most certainly resolve the health debate. However we can also agree that it will never come to pass for obvious reasons. Nonetheless she is to be congratulated for a novel idea the likes of which we too seldom see.

Posted by: georgewhetstine | February 24, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

I sort of dispute your characterization of all this. Democrats compromised over the past 9 months mainly because they had to satisfy their most conservative members and hold their coalition of 59-60 members together to secure a vote and passage. You make it seem like they compromised in order to try to get Republican votes, but this was, in reality, if not in rhetoric, a negotiation across the spectrum of the Democratic caucus, not between parties.

So this isn't actually about Democrats being weak in the face of Republicans. It's about why there are a handful of Democratic members who held out so long and didn't want to effectively pass a bill (even though they'd spent their careers up to that point going along with the health-care plank of the Democratic platform.

Those Democrats ruined everything; they should have been good-faith negotiators, but they turned out not to be. The Republicans have no obligation at all to be good-faith negotiators. That's fine and should be expected. But other Democratic caucus members shouldn't be self-destructive.

If you can't even get all your members to agree to vote in favor, how were you ever going to get some Republicans to?

Posted by: ahpolitics | February 24, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The Dems have the votes in the House to pass the Obama health bill and had the votes in the Senate to pass same without reconciliation until two weeks ago. Yet they failed to get it done because of resistance within their own party. So REALLY, who is the party of "no"?

Posted by: georgewhetstine | February 24, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

georgewhetstine,

Really? What exactly happened on February 10?

I thought the turning point was the loss of the super majority in the Senate last month.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

powderpuff had reason for why the health care bill is having so much difficulty, but she got the potential solution wrong. If we stopped providing health care for all government employees - including the president - and required them to pay a percentage of their GROSS income (same percentage for all, so everyone feels the same rate of pain) for coverage, perhaps they would start to find the coverage they are willing to pay for.

Basically, we are being asked to work hard, pay all our bills, pay for our own medical insurance, pay for social security and medicare, pay more in income taxes (and in most states more in state taxes and sales taxes), and like it. THEY, on the other hand, are working shorter hours, fewer days, and then we give them free life insurance and a pension, plus free social security and medicare. They repay this by not paying for their own medical insurance and all too frequently they don't pay their own taxes until someone catches them.

The solution is not a government provided free ride, because the only ones paying for it are the ones who are already paying for everything. Somehow, we need to get MORE people paying for the program, but since the government keeps pushing more people into the government subsidized programs, and into the welfare system, fewer and fewer people are actually paying any taxes at all.

THOSE are the ones who are objecting to the free-ride insurance. THOSE are the people who are saying NO, and their congressmen/women know it. Those people are out there voting, and they're going to change things in November. And they don't mind showing their ID to do it, either.

Posted by: whisperonthewind | February 24, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, Ezra,the media is discussing the President’s intention to attach his desired Health Care Reform Bill to the Budget Bill thus opening the door to treating any disagreement over this monstrosity as reconciliation and overriding opposition in the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes.

Please understand the depth of disagreement among our citizens with this brazen attempt to override voter opposition on the premise that their elected representatives “know better” than the ignorant peasants west of Washington. This death wish on the part the Democrat LEADERSHIP will ignite a fire storm of opposition among Constitutionalists, Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians, Independents, etc, as well as Blue Dog Democrats, which you, Ezra, have clearly demonstrated you are not.

In one fell swoop, the leadership will destroy itself and the Democrat party (Pelosi may barely survive but not in a leadership position). Democrats will simply hand this option to their opposition in November who will reverse it at the first opportunity. Worse, Democrats will cease to be an effective loyal opposition, the country will be polarized for generations to come and OR our economy will be shattered.

Congress has NEVER once forecasted the correct FULL cost to the taxpayers of ANY Health Care entitlement bill. In this particular case, the underestimate is TITANIC in comparison to all other bills! (Shifting trillions in costs to the states in unfunded mandates is a perfect example of the duplicity going on in Congress and you obviously advocate it!)

EZRA DID YOU & YOUR PARTY LEARN NOTHING FROM MASSACHUSETTS? Neither Republicans nor Democrats can win any election if the Independents and smaller parties are in opposition. Reconciliation will simply further galvanize MORE and ANGRIER OPPOSITION! Did any of your Party polls show this outcome? Will you and your party continue to deceive yourselves with your own blind rhetoric?

Posted by: PRRWRITER | February 24, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Where is the tort reform? We have all heard that the Democratic Party is beholden to the trial lawyers lobby. The fat cat attorney groups have lobbied vigorously against bringing down health care costs by controlling tort lawsuits and capping damages to a reasonable amount. When I see real tort reform in the bill, I will know that there is actual compromise on the part of the Democrats.

Posted by: agiantman | February 24, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"When I see real tort reform in the bill, I will know that there is actual compromise on the part of the Democrats."

And when I see a single Republican offer to vote for the bill if it contains tort reform, I will know that there is actual compromise on the part of the Republicans.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats have had the House Majority since January 2009. The Democrats have had the Senate super-majority since January 2009. They had plenty of time to pass whatever bills they wanted since then. February 10 did not have any impact on the bills being debated amongst the Democrats last July, or last September, or last December. When someone is not invited to the party, it is hard for that someone to cause trouble at the party.

Posted by: OveyFan | February 24, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, Ezra what you gonna do when you're paying over 50% in taxes, and government controls your healthcare and government continues in 2010 just like they did in 2009? Oh Ezra, better go back to the drawing board and rethink what you're writing about.

Without a doubt Obama, Pelosi and Reid have the healthcare reform behind lock and key - no one is going to change their minds, it will be passed. Why Republicans are even trying is a mystery to me.

Didn't you hear your friends say the healthcare bill will be passed, whether Americans approve of it or not!

Me thinks, we have a leader who's hell bent on spreading the wealth.

It's one thing Ezra to stand up for honesty, integrity, compassion and all of the other good things Americans can wrap their arms around, but it becomes down right dangerous when a person is so "sucked" into fantasyland that they've lost touch with reality.

May God Bless America

Posted by: annie21 | February 24, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Oveyfan:

Actually, no.

The Democrats have had a majority in the House since 2007, not 2009.

The "super majority" in the Senate (that the Democrats enjoyed after Al Franken was seated and until Scott Brown was sworn in) lasted only a few months. It is also a little shakey, conceptually, since you have to include Joe Lieberman as part of the 60 votes.

Joe caucuses with the Democrats but he is not a Democrat. You may have noticed that Joe takes great delight in undermining the Democrats on major issues, as he did with health care by killing the Medicare buy-in idea.

georgewhetstine said that something important happened "two weeks ago" (February 10) and I am just trying to find out what major event occurred on that date that I completely missed. Perhaps it is pedantic of me to wonder about this?

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Time for the Democrats to get their act together, as the GOP has done. For some reason, they cannot keep their members on the same page. each has their own idealistic approach to health care, be it abortion, taxes, balanced budget, etc, the final result will be the American public gets nothing, and the GOP, the party of "NO" can look forward to turning the Democratic inability to pass a comprehensive health plan into an a reason why the Democrats should be voted out of office. In other words, they get rewarded for stonewalling denying, misrepresenting facts, and distortions, while frustrating the American people, and blaming Obama and the Democrats in power. What has happened with the Democrats is somewhat akin to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Once again self interests, and petty politics of individual elected Democratic officials loses sight of the final result, what is in the best interests of the American Public.

Posted by: atc333 | February 24, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein is very funny to read. He is such a sycophant for Obama that it is actually funny. Mr. Klein would be better served to branch out a little from inside the beltway and learn what the nation really thinks of Obama. Otherwise Mr. Klein will go down with his master Obama. Obama is incapable of telling the truth, so what will that say about Mr. Klein of the Post?

Posted by: walterndebby | February 24, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Aside to AZPROGRESSIVE......man, is your handle outdated.

Posted by: connyankee1 | February 24, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have been locked out of the planning and negotiating by Democrat leadership and Barry the Banana...I mean President Barack Obama, until now. the disaster that was and is the current House and Senate Bills is all a Democrat mess.

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief | February 24, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein is very funny to read. He is such a sycophant for Obama that it is actually funny. Mr. Klein would be better served to branch out a little from inside the beltway and learn what the nation really thinks of Obama. Otherwise Mr. Klein will go down with his master Obama. Obama is incapable of telling the truth, so what will that say about Mr. Klein of the Post?

Posted by: walterndebby | February 24, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

walterndebby,

Do you think that by saying something twice, it might magically become an intelligent remark?

If so, I'm sorry, but it didn't work.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

The stench this Congress leaves us with will linger for years. We won't be able to fire the entire Senate this year, but we CAN fire the entire House of Representatives. Let's do it!

Posted by: jamessyl | February 24, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Instead of reforming the filibuster, we should just abolish the Senate. Those people do not represent anyone, except maybe in Montana and then they over-represent them. How can we go about this?

Posted by: LauraNo | February 24, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

If you consider Republican 'ingenious comppromise' to meean obstructionism resulting in the stubborn destruction of the country, that certainly defines the Republican's 'ingenious' approach to date.

Posted by: kacameron | February 24, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I think the strategy of obstruction was developed in California. The GOP in California are the minority, yet they controlled the annual state budgetary process. The California state budget was never passed on time, even with a GOP Governor. The State was forced to issue IOU without a budget, but they do not care. The GOP simply refused to compromise. By so doing, they extracted considerable concessions from Democrat. This is how the minority rules in California.

Posted by: carl12 | February 24, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I know I come from Australia but the writer of this article seems to me to be a nut an angry reporter and if this is the mindset of the Democrats no wonder they can not govern.
If I am not mistaken the senate has already passed a bill and the Democrats have at least a 50 seat majority in the house so could you explain to me how a majority of 50 needs bipartisan agreement to pass the bill. If Democrats love it so much how is it that they can not get the 50 Democrats vote to pass the bill already in the senate. Reporter do not blame the Republicans blame the ill minded Democrats who made the bill so bad they can not even get 50 of their own to pass it.

Posted by: aussiebob | February 24, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans should use the genius compromise strategy of not cooperating with the Democrats on passing the Health Care Bill because the former is listing to the wishes of the majority of the American people, unlike the latter.

Posted by: ddpuckett9 | February 24, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

What appears to be principled steadfastness is actually the latest danger to the freedoms of the people of the United States. You see a refusal to compromise. But, the only pro-freedom principle is denouncing the idea that government has any role providing, regulating or financing medical care in any fashion whatsoever. So, the Republican resistance, designed to get their version of smaller, slower, less costly socialized medicine is a compromise. It is not a stand on opposite principle, it is "us, not you", in order to have a partisan victory.
Well the surprise is that the American people, the Tea Party people, are not fooled. Their refusal to "choose a party", as Sarah Palin put it, is because they know that all the legislative victories of the Progressivist/socialist past is due to Republican compromises and they are not having any more of it. We will vote out Republicans just as quickly as we will vote out Democrats.
No Republican needs to think he has our vote, just because the alternative is a socialist Democrat. Better to let all the socialists in office be Democrats, so that when we have a pro-Capitalist Republican, we know that's what he is.

Posted by: pbeaird | February 24, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow! I do believe Ezra Klein has gotten it exactly right! That's why it's so infuriating to watch the Dems groveling to the Republicans. The more the Dems grovel, the less the Republicans compromise. We get weaker, they get stronger. What's wrong with this picture?
If Obama had stopped trying to find that mythical "bipartisan compromise," and instead put through a healthcare bill that looked like Democrats might have written it, this bill could have been passed long ago. And why were we so reluctant to pass this bill through reconciliation? The GOP passed Bush's completely irresponsible tax cuts through reconciliation. They didn't make demeaning deals in an attempt to get 60 votes! If reconciliation is good enough for the GOP, it's good enough for the Democrats!

Posted by: SuzanneM5 | February 24, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight. Democrats have extremely large majorities in both houses of congress as well as the presidency. The republicans have been playing hard ball on everything for a year now. As Ezra points out, this has worked not only extremely well as a political tool, but is effective policy (from a conservative point of view) as well!!!

When will democrats wake up and realize they need to play hard-ball as well? Or do they think they were sent to office to just sit around and mope about the fact that they will eventually lose elected office? If so, they should all be kicked out.

Posted by: kisfiu | February 25, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

After the dog & pony show on TV today, where the Republicans will again posture and lie to the American people as they have been for the past year [actually the past 30 years while posing as conservatives], the basic Senate bill (which by the way includes the four major Republican points as it is) will have a public option added.

It will then pass in reconcilitaion just as Dubbya's much beloved Republican tax cuts did.

If the Republicans don't like reconciliation, let's repeal those tax cuts and the provisions that the bankers & investment firms love so much.

You know the ones! The ones that took effect from 1999 to 2005! The changes from the "passed in reconciliation" Budget Act of 1997 that changed the oversight rules & let the "free traders" (or is that traitors?) & "bankster gangsters" run amok and tank the economy.

Don't like reconciliation? Let's role back all those Republican special interest perks, passed in reconciliation, while we're at it! That includes "passed in reconciliaton" Welfare Reform all you phonies posing as conservatives love to praise.

That's all while you're applauding running record deficits to pay for Dubbya's illegal war in Iraq and while berating poor Americans for being poor.

Sorry if History is inconvenient for you folks! Before you rant, go look it up!

Posted by: JohninConnecticut | February 25, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Amazing! Only in Ezra's left wing world would would the Senate Obamacare bill with it's trillion dollars worth of additional spending and vast new federal bureacacies and regulations be labeled conservative and incrementalist. I guess according to Ezra anything short of single payer is conservative. Also, as Ezra and other liberal Democrats pushing this bill know Obmacare is just the first step in a vast federal intervention into the U.S. healtcare system. Other Democrats have already said that this bill is just the camel's nose in the tent with more and more government expansion coming until the U.S. finally reaches the liberal nirvana of single payer. Then we can go broke just like all Europeans and Canadians are as they struggle under the burden of ever incresing costs of their government run healthcare systems.

Posted by: RobT1 | February 25, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, I am very glad to see you picking up on this result and I hope that other folks w/ the Democrats' ear start making it too.

Our system is set up around sort of a "mutually assured destruction" idea. The theory is that you can't be completely unproductive or really threaten political institutions because you WILL eventually be on the other side and you WILL eventually suffer for having created the precedent.

But this theory has come completely unmoored in recent years. It is virtually impossible to imagine Democrats mounting a successful "block everything" campaign like the Republicans' current one. It's impossible to see them using DeLay-style tactics to pass legislation (they're scared to even touch reconciliation). And things like impeachment or Bush v. Gore? Not going to happen under a Democrat.

Now we can be proud about that and pat ourselves on the back, but the fact is when one party can do things THAT extreme without fear of being on the receiving end, the political system simply becomes unbalanced. Mutually assured destruction falls apart, and you get one law for Republicans and another for Democrats. That's highly dangerous for a democracy, but the solution HAS to involve increased aggressiveness among the Democratic caucus. They have to stop groping for bipartisanship and start treating this like the political war it's become.

Posted by: NS12345 | February 25, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

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