Patterico's Pontifications

2/24/2010

ObamaCare: Pre-”summit” update

Filed under: General — Karl @ 5:31 pm



[Posted by Karl]

The pre-game coverage of tomorrow’s staged “summit” on ObamaCare starts with edgy comments from Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad:

Conrad, who has been open to reconciliation as long as the fixes are limited, said the order must be reversed. The House must pass the Senate bill first — before either chamber considers the reconciliation package, he said.

“I don’t know of any way, I don’t know of any way where you can have a reconciliation bill pass before the bill that it is meant to reconcile passes,” said Conrad, who would be a central figure on the Senate floor if Democrats embark on the complicated process. “I don’t know how you would deal with the scoring. I don’t know how I could look you in the eye and say this package reduces the deficit. It’s kind of got the cart before the horse.”

When reminded that House Democrats don’t want to do health care in that order, Conrad said bluntly: “Fine, then it’s dead.”

Conrad went on to say that he refused make any promises or symbolic gestures to House members to assure them that the Senate would address their concerns in a reconciliation bill.

FDL’s Jon Walker suggests this is a death sentence for the effort:

I simply do not believe Nancy Pelosi can ever whip the votes to pass the current Senate bill unchanged. Even with a solemn promise from Democratic senators that they would support reconciliation, I don’t believe it is possible.

Voting on the Senate bill first would require House Democrats to vote for the Cornhusker kickback, the extremely toxic excise tax, and the Nelson abortion language that Bart Stupak has called unacceptable. That vote would be bad politics even if the reconciliation fix did happen later–and there is no reason to trust that it would. The House Democrats simply don’t–and shouldn’t–trust the Senate Democrats. Also, the reconciliation fixes Obama outlined are small, and unlikely to make the unpopular Senate bill any more popular.

If (and that is a big “if”) Conrad is correct and Pelosi is wrong, the Senate bill and reconciliation sidecar strategy are really dead. I can’t see them passing the House and Democrats need to switch to a plan B.

The general expectation is that the lefties in the House Democratic caucus would cave when push comes to shove, and that the focus is really on about 15-20 votes in the middle. But if the lefties were going to cave easily, they could have done so and moved to final passage before Scott Brown got elected.

How does this basic dispute between Democrats get solved by a bit of televised political theater aimed primarily at trying to make the GOP look like the villains of the drama? The only possible way it does is if Pres. Obama somehow makes the GOP look so bad as to erase all of the distrust among Democrats (a distrust that extends far beyond ObamaCare to the 289 other unpassed House bills this session). But 77% of adults already think there won’t be a deal. Moreover, a majority opposes reconciliation and the vast majority — including nearly half of all Democrats — want Congress to start over or stop working on the issue. Obama can try to make himself look bipartisan, but most people think the Democrats should give up more ground to achieve bipartisanship. It seems unlikely that tomorrow’s dog-and-pony show will produce a seismic shift among the public or Democrats.

None of which will stop the Democrats from trying to push on, of course. But it may be that a “blame the GOP summit” will end up being used by Democrats looking to defend themselves against their base if it turns out that their Holy Grail has again slipped through their fingers.

–Karl

19 Responses to “ObamaCare: Pre-”summit” update”

  1. This is an opportunity for Republicans but, of course, they are experts at missing opportunities.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  2. this whole turn of events is unprecedented.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  3. Conrad has never been accused of being foolish – he knows a sword of Damacles when he sees one. I still think that the GOP should get Ryan to step up again and challenge His Awesomeness on why he keeps claiming that the opposition has no serious plans from their side, yet he just told Ryan the exact opposite during his big show at the GOP retreat. It’s easy to make him look foolish, just by show and tell.

    Dmac (799abd)

  4. Baucus is correct on this one. Without a complete bill, there is nothing to reconcile.

    The only possible compromise would be if the Senate passed a bunch of non-binding “Sense of the Senate” resolutions to signal how they would vote once the Democrats walk the plank. But, the more I think about it, the more problems I see from the Democrat side. First, take the Stupak Amendment. Voting for this amendment is toxic to Boxer and most of the Democratic caucus. They would only get to 51 votes in a Sense of the Senate resolution of Republicans joined — and since it was a non-binding resolution they would have no incentive to do so (and since the vote could decide whether House Dems come on board, they would have every incentive to muck up the waters procedurally).

    Sean P (4fde41)

  5. Mike K,

    Fortunately it’s not much of an opportunity for either side. Because I’m increasingly convinced this isn’t being done for the public. It’s being done for the Dems, in which case the GOP performance probably won’t matter much.

    Karl (45e11e)

  6. Karl,

    I agree completely. There is no upside to the GOP attending. They continue to earn the appellation “The Stupid Party”. The only purpose of the meeting is to give cover to the Dems and the only question remaining is how the MSM will spin it to do just that.

    Idiots looking for TV time and hoping to become the next “Great Hope” of their party instead of doing the job for America.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  7. People are too bored to tears by this by now for it to be for anything but the post-spin the NPR MSNBC Newsweek media will reliably manufacture.

    This isn’t what Washington needs to be troubling its pretty little head with right now.

    happyfeet (713679)

  8. The media has been uncharacteristically subdued and almost dismissive of the summit. Another indication of diminishing expectations, I think. I am betting the insider media is getting an ear full and knows lots more about the infighting and turmoil among the Democrats that’s going on behind the scenes (within congress, and between the WH and congress) than they are letting on. Obama has managed to demoralize the kool-ade drinkers, end the careers of entrenched Dem lawmakers and revitalize moribund conservatives. Who woulda thunk it!

    elissa (5ac501)

  9. Obama’s most “shovel ready” project it seems is burying the Dem majority in Congress. Who woulda thunk that.

    Mr. Pink (898426)

  10. I think the media’s been subdued cause it needs talking points and the director needs to explain motivation and where the camera’s gonna be.

    happyfeet (713679)

  11. Here’s a true story:

    Just yesterday, I was at a bar with a close friend, a die-hard liberal and Democrat. He loves Obama.

    Anyway, the big-screen TV was on “Hardball.” The sound is off. Matthews is on and from the scroll at the bottom, it looks as if he is talking about health-care.

    So, he turns to me and says, I swear “Who’s that guy, another Fox-hater?”

    I was at a loss for words. Finally, I said: “No, I don’t think he hates foxes.” Blank stare.

    So, I said: “He’s on MSNBC. He used to work for Tip O’Neill.”

    “So, he hates Clinton?” my friend said.

    “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t think so, but I don’t know the guy.”

    I changed the subject.

    Just an anecdote and I won’t swear the dialogue is exact. But, really, there’s no point in arguing.

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  12. Karl – Where’s Myron?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  13. Thursday’s Wall Street Journal reports Obama already has a backup scaled down reform package ready to go if broader reform doesn’t garner enough support.

    That’s the way a true leader projects CONFIDENCE!!!!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  14. Comment by Ag80 — 2/24/2010 @ 7:44 pm

    Actually, Chrissie was probably the most critical of the Leftists of Bubba for his actions with Monica and the subsequent coverup.

    AD - RtR/OS! (955a97)

  15. So Chrissy’s most substantive disagreement with Bill was over his choice of pipe cleaners and his refusal to acknowledge receipt of invoice?

    HeavenSent (c3c032)

  16. “Baucus is correct on this one. Without a complete bill, there is nothing to reconcile.”

    The bill that would be reconciled is the senate bill. No other changes can be made to that, without 60 votes. And the GOP will not give any votes to change it.

    “I still think that the GOP should get Ryan to step up again and challenge His Awesomeness on why he keeps claiming that the opposition has no serious plans from their side, yet he just told Ryan the exact opposite during his big show at the GOP retreat. It’s easy to make him look foolish, just by show and tell.”

    I think the democrats would take this if they could paint more and more of the GOP as behind Ryan’s plan. Also it helps on when they whine about medicare cuts.

    imdw (de7003)

  17. “I think the media’s been subdued cause it needs talking points and the director needs to explain motivation and where the camera’s gonna be.”

    I doubt any are going to cover the whole thing. But there may be moments like in the house retreat with ideologically motivated cuts.

    imdw (017d51)

  18. Karl – Where’s Myron?

    Myron is busily collecting contrary polling results from that paragon of objectivity, the Daily Kos. Really – just ask him.

    Dmac (799abd)

  19. Do you suppose they intend to torture the public with such boredom that we insist on the passage of the bill so as to cease having it drummed at us continually? I’m glad there are people paid to watch this cr*p. What part of “no” is so hard for them? Spoiled brats going on and on until their parents cave.

    After all this, do they really think some PR moment is going to change our minds? Or that we’ll grab at some toxic compromise just to make them stop?

    jodetoad (7a7b8a)


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