Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On health care, what's left to talk about?

By the way, even though it is still pretty obvious that Olympia Snowe will have an outsized impact on health care negotiations, it is hard to see her saying "When history calls, history calls" before voting yes in the finance committee and then not voting for the final bill. Right? I am pretty sure history would not have called to say, "Let's just get this thing as far as the floor of the Senate and then we'll kill it there." That doesn't sound like something history would say.

So we move on to questions about the centrist Democrats vs. the liberals. I would guess that the centrists will wield quite a bit of power when it comes to backroom negotiating, but at the end of the day it is just very hard to see any one of them -- not Ben Nelson, not Blanche Lincoln and so on -- actually being the Democrat who votes against cloture on health care. I could be wrong but I don't see it.

If they're all gettable on cloture (all except Lieberman), then a lot of the coming negotiations are really going to be about whether or not Ben Nelson et al. will actually vote in favor of the final bill -- the difference between a 60-40 vote and, say, a 55-45 vote. That's not nothing because the bills that get you those outcomes are probably different in some key ways, not least of which is this little matter of a public option, triggered or non-triggered or opt-in or what have you. Still, those things aren't really the same question as whether or not health care reform dies. That question seems to be basically in the past.

UPDATE [10/15 3:21pm] ... Liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown and conservative Dem Sen. Max Baucus play the expectations game here. Lots of difference between the bill that gets no Democrat to vote against cloture and the one that actually gets every Democratic vote.


Erik said...

I think the problem more falls into: is this actually reform? But you're right we've little doubt now that something will pass and it will be called health care reform

But I think you bring up the better point: will it be anything like what President Obama campaigned under? What the Democratic Party has in their official party platform?

I think you are correct that even the Ben Nelsons of the world will vote for cloture even if they don't vote for the final bill. With that in mind, the White House and more liberal Dems need to work on getting fifty votes (fifty one would probably be better as Biden making the tie breaking vote would politicized to death, not that this bill won't be regardless). I think that even moderate Republicans will have a hard time justify not voting for cloture for the reason you bring up, history doesn't call for that, and also Republicans in almost all polls are being seen as nothing more but political obstructionists with no actual ideas or agendas of their own. Filibustering this bill will cement that notion for the 2010 elections.

Saxdrop said...

Intrade has the following event trading at 15% likelihood:

"A federal government run health insurance plan to be approved before midnight ET 31 Dec 2009."

Seems like a buy opportunity if what you say is correct. Then again, it seems like you're focusing only on the Senate outcome.

Rob said...

Yeah I guess I would take that on a bet (though the language is a bit slanted! "government run" and all), but I am very sketchy on the timeline from here and wouldn't be totally shocked if it ended up spilling into next year. My Congressman, Rep. Dave Obey, said in an interview he thought the final bill would be done on the day before Congress's Christmas recess, so I'll say that seems about right.