Rules Chair Louise Slaughter Knows How to Negotiate

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.

Tags: Can of Whoop Ass, Health care, Louise Slaughter, Public Option (all tags)

Comments

22 Comments

lots moving this week

It is very encouraging to see so many great Democrats stepping up to pass a good bill.

Sad to see too many Democrats surrendering in the middle of the battle.

by Bob Brigham 2009-12-23 01:10PM | 0 recs
You don't gamble with other people's lives

If the conference can come up with a stronger bill that is guaranteed to pass the Senate, fine.  If the stronger bill would come with no guarantees, it's not worth the gamble.

The smartest thing both politically and for the American People is to pass the bill the Senate can guarantee, and then improve it next year as recently suggested by Tom Harkin.

by Georgeo57 2009-12-23 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: You don't gamble with other people's lives

Passing an unpopular bill is not the smartest thing politically, and especially not because the policy sucks.

Don't cave before conference even begins.

by Bob Brigham 2009-12-23 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: You don't gamble with other people's lives

I'm positive that they will "fix" the health insurance bill in the same way as they "fixed" FISA.

by MOBlue 2009-12-23 03:27PM | 0 recs
and the PATRIOT Act!

Don't forget that one.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-23 04:48PM | 0 recs
thanks for writing this post

I had a post in my head slamming Grijalva and unnamed Progresssives for their incredibly stupid comments yesterday. It's good to see Slaughter striking the right tone going into conference.

You never get anywhere negotiating if the other side doesn't think you are prepared to walk away from the table.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-23 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: thanks for writing this post

Slaughter is big news. She's the one person in congress who can screw over the pet bills of any member.

Good to see her making a big move.

by Bob Brigham 2009-12-23 01:56PM | 0 recs
ezra is the douche of the year

Passing a good bill that goes into effect quickly will be in action quicker, will help more people, and can keep Democrats in power (so the bill isn't repealed).

Reading Ezra makes you dumber.

by Bob Brigham 2009-12-23 01:52PM | 0 recs
Re: ezra is the douche of the year

The other day he wrote a post about the disappearing health bill which was meant as a defense of the bill but its argument rested on the fact the bill changes next to nothing.

Seems an odd defense of the bill.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-23 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Rules Chair Louise Slaughter Knows How to Nego

She apparently already is in progressive like fashion possibly pulling back on her statement.

by bruh3 2009-12-23 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Rules Chair Louise Slaughter Knows How to Nego

What kind of syntax is that, and where is your source?

by lojasmo 2009-12-23 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Rules Chair Louise Slaughter Knows How to Nego

She apparently already is in progressive like fashion possibly pulling back on her statement.

Quoted for posterity.

by lojasmo 2009-12-23 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Rules Chair Louise Slaughter Knows How to Nego

Classic formulation.

by Steve M 2009-12-23 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Mavericky

by QTG 2009-12-23 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Rules Chair Louise Slaughter Knows How to Nego

I mean- I just don't know how to interpret this double speak:

"* But a spokesperson for Slaughter, Vince Morris, confirms she's not ruling out a vote for the final bill, even if it lacks a public option or other concessions sought by progressives.

"She's not ruling anything in or out at this point," Morris tells me. "She is hopeful that we can make the bill better in conference."

* Dem Reps Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey are now saying a public option "must" be added in conference. But their statement does not rule out a vote for a final bill without one."

http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com/health -care/happy-hour-roundup-133/

Either make the threat and mean it, or don't because this just says to the other side, "she doesn't mean it."

by bruh3 2009-12-23 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Rules Chair Louise Slaughter

I don't think too many changes can be made to the House bill that will let it still pass, and likewise the Senate for its version, but what few changes can be made I will certainly support.

I do have one quibble with Slaughter's quotes, however, specifically when she says "Supporters of the weak Senate bill say 'just pass it -- any bill is better than no bill.'"

I am a supporter of the admittedly weak Senate bill, but I don't say "any bill is better than no bill" - I say THIS bill is better than no bill. But I grant that it's on the cusp. If subsidies were lowered so that it brought insurance to 20 million rather than 30 million for the same cost; if it didn't lower the deficit; if it didn't cover pre-existing conditions; etc. etc., I'd have to rethink my support and give opposition strong consideration. I do not say that ANY bill is worth passing.

BTW, love the "can of whoop ass" tagline. I'll have to remember that one.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-12-23 04:31PM | 0 recs
going into conference

House Democrats have to leave some doubt about whether they will vote for this bill. That increases the chance that other key fights will be resolved in favor of the House bill.

If everyone says now that they will vote for the bill, the Senate will prevail on everything in conference.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-23 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: going into conference

self evident.

by QTG 2009-12-23 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: going into conference

They already lost the battle because they refuse to stand up. And, what's more, a large percentage of "progressive" bloggers agree with it. I've been holding out hope, but I am really starting to accept the fact that nothing will change in this country.

by bruh3 2009-12-23 06:04PM | 0 recs
No

She's has some guts, but she's a mediocre negotiator who is going to be owned by tougher negotiators on the other side.   A good negotiator doesn't say that they might possible support the bill even if it doesn't have the PO.   A GOOD Negotiator has to show they are willing to walk away.   Then there's this...

"But a spokesperson for Slaughter, Vince Morris, confirms she's not ruling out a vote for the final bill, even if it lacks a public option or other concessions sought by progressives.
"She's not ruling anything in or out at this point," Morris tells me. "She is hopeful that we can make the bill better in conference."

The MOMENT Vince Morris said this, she went from a strong to a very week position.   Sure, she'll get some concessions, but she just left a LOT on the table.  She has guts, but she made a big mistake with her aid making that statement.    

by FUJA 2009-12-23 10:01PM | 0 recs
No

She's has some guts, but she's a mediocre negotiator who is going to be owned by tougher negotiators on the other side.   A good negotiator doesn't say that they might possible support the bill even if it doesn't have the PO.   A GOOD Negotiator has to show they are willing to walk away.   Then there's this...

"But a spokesperson for Slaughter, Vince Morris, confirms she's not ruling out a vote for the final bill, even if it lacks a public option or other concessions sought by progressives.
"She's not ruling anything in or out at this point," Morris tells me. "She is hopeful that we can make the bill better in conference."

The MOMENT Vince Morris said this, she went from a strong to a very weak position.   Sure, she'll get some concessions, but she just left a LOT on the table.  She has guts, but she made a big mistake with her aid making that statement.    

by FUJA 2009-12-23 10:02PM | 0 recs
Re: No

The problem, is who is she going to negotiate with? Because it sounds to me she is going to be "negotiating" with folk like Schumer and Harkin, whereas she should be negotiating with Nelson, Lieberman and Snowe.

Hell it's always easy to be a tough negotiator if your going to ignore your enemies and go after your allies.

by vecky 2009-12-23 11:49PM | 0 recs

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