Rules Chair Louise Slaughter Knows How to Negotiate
by Bob Brigham, Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:06:41 PM EST
All year -- literally all year -- we've know the difference between a good bill and a bad bill would come down to who had the leverage going into Conference Committee.
Unfortunately, too many Democrats have decided to cave before Conference is even named.
So Rules Chair Louise Slaughter decided to put on a little demonstration of Political Negotiation 101 for all the WATB who are turning and running at the key moment in negotiations.
Representative Slaughter took to CNN with an op-ed designed to get the path to a good bill back on track. This, ladies and gentleman, is how you negotiate:
The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago.
Supporters of the weak Senate bill say "just pass it -- any bill is better than no bill."
I strongly disagree -- a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.
It's time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.
She started by doing something Democrats should have been doing all year -- going after the unpopular insurance companies who have created the crisis.
Even though the House version is far from perfect, it at least represents a step toward our goal of giving 36 million Americans decent health coverage.
But under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. Is it any surprise that stock prices for some of those insurers are up recently?
I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform.
One branch of our bicameral legislature has included a public option. One branch removed it from Senator Ted Kennedy's HELP Committee bill. Whether it makes the final legislation will be determined in conference. Here Slaughter showed how you go into that debate:
By eliminating the public option, the government program that could spark competition within the health insurance industry, the Senate has ended up with a bill that isn't worthy of its support.
The public option is the part of our reform effort that will lower costs, improve the delivery of health care services and force insurance companies to offer rates and services that are reasonable.
Although the art of legislating involves compromise, I believe the Senate went off the rails when it agreed with the Obama Administration to water down the reform bill and no longer include the public option.
But did she stop there? NO! Here next line was, "But that's not the only thing wrong with the Senate's version of the health care bill."
And she went on. And on. Go read the whole thing.
Thanks Chair Slaughter for showing how to negotiate with self respect instead of caving to our enemies.
Today, there has been a great deal of action by Democrats who don't want to get destroyed in the midterms and beyond. Smart Democrats who want to pass a bill Democrats can run on instead of run from.
Tomorrow morning, the bill is headed back to the House. This is not the time to roll over, this is the time to stand up and fight for a good bill. Which is probably the most important thing you can do to help Democrats in the midterms.