This is a good point (via Cogitamus):
As long as there was still a good distance to go before a bill was passed, Business Dog Dems could afford to be Business Dogs – to maintain the charade of being Democrats by being on the side of passing something, while watering it down to please the people who write their campaign checks, and hoping that the bill would die a quiet death amidst all the wrangling. So they didn’t have to think much about how it would play out in 2010 if the bill passed, because that was a pretty damned big ‘if.’
Not so much anymore. So now they’re having to think about passing a bill that they can defend to their constituents when the GOP tries to put the worst face on it that they can. And that means strengthening the bill so that the GOP doesn’t have much to work with.
I made a similar point to my boss earlier this morning. In terms of their opposition, the GOP has all but thrown caution to the wind and adopted a high-risk/high-reward strategy, both politically and legislatively. Successfully shutting down Barack Obama’s health care reform effort would have dealt a crippling blow to his presidency and virtually guaranteed significant Republican gains in next year’s elections.
The huge downside of course, is that if Democrats do pass health care legislation – and that’s looking increasingly likely – then it becomes that much harder to run against them in next year’s elections. What’s more, and as we’re seeing now, the flip side to obstinacy is that your interests won’t be represented. Even moderate Republican input into a health care bill would have yielded one significantly more conservative than what we’re likely to see. Democrats seemed to have genuinely wanted a bipartisan bill, and I’m fairly certain that a right-leaning “compromise” bill would have been quickly shepherded through Congress. As it stands, not only do Democrats not have any incentive to take Republican input, but the logic of the situation is pushing them in a more liberal direction. That is, and as low-tech cyclist points – with a bill looking very likely, even conservative Democrats recognize that their best bet for winning reelection involves strengthening the bill to make it a better deal for their constituents. And on top of that, liberal activists are pressuring the Democratic leadership to include a public option and there seems to be a sense that liberals will actively turn against the leadership if a public option isn’t included.
The funny thing about all of this is that by categorically opposing reform, Republicans have made it far more likely that they will suffer a serious legislative loss in the form of a solidly center-left health are bill, and that in turn makes it far more likely that they suffer politically in next year’s elections.