Remember Remember the 8th of November (1994, that is)

As I explained a while back, the reconciliation process can only be used to pass bills that have a direct impact on reducing the budget deficit, which is why passing a health care bill through reconciliation could prove to be difficult: some aspects, like the public option, might not have enough of an impact on the deficit to survive the process intact.  This leaves Democratic legislators with two options: they could scrap the public option and include it in a later round of reform, or they could include a public option that’s far more liberal and far more reaching in its scope.  TPM’s Brian Beutler gives the details:

According to Martin Paone, a legislative expert who’s helping Democrats map out legislative strategy, a more robust public option–one that sets low prices, and provides cheap, subsidized insurance to low- and middle-class consumers–would have an easier time surviving the procedural demands of the so-called reconciliation process. However, he cautions that the cost of subsidies “will have to be offset and if [the health care plan] loses money beyond 2014…it will have to be sunsetted.”

And there the irony continues: Some experts, including on Capitol Hill, believe that a more robust public option will generate crucial savings needed to keep health care reform in the black–and thus prevent it from expiring.

Naturally, there’s concern that conservative Democrats will balk at the possibility of stronger cost controls and greater long-term savings:

But though that may solve the procedural problems, conservative Democrats have balked at the idea creating such a momentous government program, and if they defected in great numbers, they could imperil the entire reform package

This has been said before, but it’s worth repeating: a robust health care reform bill will not hurt Democratic electoral prospects next year.  If anything, it will energize the Democratic base, discourage Republican opposition, and give Democrats – conservative or otherwise – the opportunity to campaign on delivering “affordable health care” to their constituents.  For recently-elected Democrats vulnerable to high Republican turnout, this is a good thing. Someone needs to explain to our centrist and conservative friends that their fates are directly tied to the success of health care reform; after all, Democrats didn’t lose the House in 1994 because they passed a reform package, they lost because they failed and voters reacted accordingly.
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7 thoughts on “Remember Remember the 8th of November (1994, that is)

  1. The Democrats have all the votes they need to get anything they want passed. Why are they dicking around? Why are they still badgering the Right? Just pass the thing and shut up about it.

    * Note: The reason they haven’t is because there is internal opposition and they also want the political cover of bipartisanship when/if the public hates it.

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  2. Remember, the Democratic Party doesn’t have anything like the cohesion that the GOP does. Having 59 Senate votes doesn’t count for sh*t, if a half-dozen are more likely to vote with the GOP.

    The possible good explanation of all of this is that Obama (and whomever he listens to) is allowing the GOP to demonstrate their total obstructionism, beyond any honest doubt. At that point, ramming it through is politically acceptable.

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  3. A robust public option is what conservatives fear most. They’ve directed all their political will to defeating it; they know if the rest of the public is as satisfied with their health care as are seniors, there is the real possibility for a single payer system.

    It is extremely unfortunate they’re not putting their energy and intelligence into creating the kind of competitive, consumer-satisfaction driven free market that would address some of the real, often under addressed problems: job-movement freedom, business start-ups and small business, the ability of groups to form purchasing collectives, standardized billing systems, efficacy studies, electronic medical records, and government investment in r&d.

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  4. Jamelle,

    Dude, welcome to Earth.

    Every Socialist-Democrat that looks at BO’s “commie-care” is either toast or going to be severely challenged in his/her election in 2010. So I am looking forward to the Enlightened One’s offering being made public and the contest beginning so we can get our congressman, Charlie Wilson, of Ohio’s 6th District on the record and trust me Jamelle, that’s a challenge. We can’t even find the congressman, he’s hiding!

    This will be the great toilet bowl flush of all time.

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