Obama Loses Grassley

It's official: bipartisan health care negotiations will produce nothing. From First Read:

In an interview today on MSNBC's "Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan," Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R) said he'd vote against any health-care reform bill coming out of the committee unless it has wide support from Republicans -- even if the legislation contains EVERYTHING Grassley wants.

The ramifications for this are obvious. It's been widely speculated that no matter what Grassley, Snowe, and Enzi negotiatie, they'd be its only votes (with the possible addition of moderats Susan Collins and George Voinovich). Now we see that if that's actually the case, you lose Grassley - and without Grassley's cover, why would Enzi vote for the bill? So it would seem that there's no way Chuck Grassley will vote for the bill he's forcing Max Baucus and Barack Obama to water down. Thus, unless they're really negotiating for the Nelsons and Lincolns, the question stands: why keep negotiating with conservatives? Unlike most in the blogosphere, I'm a fan of bipartisanship, but with Grassley's comments today, they've even lost me. I think it's time to pull the plug on this one and go the reconciliation route for a smaller but stronger bill, or at least make sure moderate Democrats and Republicans (there are still three) don't filibuster. Remember, you don't need 60 votes to actually pass legislation as long as there's no filibuster, ala Sam Alito's 58 votes for confirmation. So like NBC's Mark Murray says, "Over to you, Max Baucus..."

Tags: Chuck Grassley, Health care, Max Baucus (all tags)



possible motives for negotiating

1) Key Democrats in the White House and Baucus want cover for giving away the store to corporate interests. So, they strike a deal with Republicans (who conveniently insist on everything the drug and insurance lobbies want).

2) Democrats are not confident watered-down health care reform will succeed, and they want the GOP to share the blame if the policy flops. But that probably wouldn't work even if a lot of Republicans voted for the bill, and it certainly wouldn't work if just one or two Republicans voted for it.

Anyone else have any ideas?

by desmoinesdem 2009-08-17 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: possible motives for negotiating

both Baucus and Conrad are bought and paid for by the insurance company and for them to hold this bill hostage is a shame.

by tarheel74 2009-08-17 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: possible motives for negotiating

I like Dr. Dean's theory, as he speculated this morning on Doucheborough's show...

Basically, the Obama administration knows they can't get a bill with the public option out of the Senate, but they don't have to. All they need is for the Senate to act positively on some sort of bill. All the dancing around by the administration is to keep the Villagers of the MSM, who have a bipartisanship fetish happy.

Meanwhile, the House passes a bill with the public option. So, now the two bills go to a conference committee, where Pelosi calls all the Blue Dog Dem's bluff. Are Conrad, Nelson and their ilk really going to support a filibuster against their own adminstration's bill? No! So, the Republican attempt to filibuster will die.

Then, when October 16th rolls around, the bill goes into Reconciliation, where it only needs a one-vote margin in each house to pass. Voila, we win.

by Obamaphile 2009-08-17 10:59PM | 0 recs
Re: possible motives for negotiating

I sure hope so.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-08-17 11:18PM | 0 recs
Re: possible motives for negotiating

Ah, Nate did the math after assuming cloture and is not quite sure such a bill can get to 50. His count was some 48-49.

But look, I am okay with leaving private insurance alone in exchange for a super-hard-core public option (and maybe subsidies for those who HAVE no insurance to buy in to it, giving it a critical mass).

by MNPundit 2009-08-18 01:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Loses Grassley

A question I would dearly like to see Baucus answer-- I know, it's a complete fantasy anyone could get Baucus to answer a question, but work with me here-- is this: Are there any circumstances-- any-- that would lead Baucus to conclude that Enzi and Grassley cannot be successfully negotiated with?

by mcc 2009-08-17 04:45PM | 0 recs
Let me take a stab at this:

Baucus - "Well, you know Chris, here in the Senate we have a history of collegiality and we will always try to come up with a solution that both parties can agree to.  That's why in the senate finance committee we have been going slower and trying to get everyone on board, whether they be Democrats or Republicans.  Besides, the fact is that the votes just aren't there, so we're going to need some Republican support."

Chris - "That's all the time we have.  We're going to have to leave it there.  Thank you for joining us, Senator Baucus."

Baucus- "Thanks for having me."

Cut to commercial for Levitra

by the mollusk 2009-08-18 07:54AM | 0 recs
the health care bill will be filibustered

if we don't use the budget reconciliation process. You can take that to the bank.

by desmoinesdem 2009-08-17 04:57PM | 0 recs
Re: the health care bill will be filibustered

Then let them fillabuster. I think James Carville is a shil, but he makes a great point:

"On CNN's "State of the Union," Democratic strategist James Carville became the first leading Democrat to suggest publicly that there might be political advantage in letting Republicans "kill" health care. "Put a bill out there, make them filibuster it, make them be what they are, the party of no," Carville said. "Let them kill it. Let them kill it with the interest group money, then run against them. That's what we ought to do.""

Now comes this which fits into what I have been arguing here for a while:

"    Charlie Cook just said something very profound (which is unusual.) Chris Matthews asked whether or not the Democrats would lose the House next year and he said he didn't think so, but that they might lose 20 seats. And then he said this:

       But arguably the people they would lose would be the Blue Dogs who aren't voting with [the president] anyway."

Both of these can be found at Talkleft.com. I say let the fillabuster because they need to have their bluff called.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 05:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Loses Grassley

One can't lose what (or whom in this case) one never had.

by Charles Lemos 2009-08-17 05:04PM | 0 recs
You are right. I say Good Riddance...

by louisprandtl 2009-08-17 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Loses Grassley

The one problem with reconciliation is the Senate Parlimentarian.  He could rule that the public option can't be pushed through reconciliation, and then what.

I think this is a wake-up call, that if we want the public option, we have to fight for it.  I haven't seen much fight out there.

I have one other suggestion, why not take the unused stimulus money of which there is plenty, and use it as a partial solution to financing reform?

by esconded 2009-08-17 05:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Loses Grassley

I have been trying to figure out two things.

(1) is the Senate Parliamentarian's ruling binding. At least this document from the Senate's web site suggest that the Parliamentarian's ruling is advisory and the presiding officer does not have to accept it.

http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-pub lish.cfm?pid=%270DP%2BPLO%3F%23P%20%20%0 A

WARNING: not very lively reading!

(2) if the Parliamentarian's ruling is binding, can he be fired and replaced - I read that the Republicans did this to a parliamentarian.

by bushsucks 2009-08-17 08:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Loses Grassley

The Parliamentarian's ruling is merely advisory.  Part of the GOP's nuclear option strategy involved the likelihood that they would have to overrule the anticipated adverse ruling from the Parliamentarian.

by Steve M 2009-08-17 08:39PM | 0 recs
also remember

Three months ago Grassley was dangling the possibility of 70 to 80 Senate votes for health care reform if only Democrats would take a bipartisan approach to the bill.

Bad-faith negotiator if there ever was one.  Jay Rockefeller was 100 percent right about the agenda of Grassley and other Finance Committee Republicans.

by desmoinesdem 2009-08-17 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

Is n't that the same game they played on the stimulus? President Obama (or at the time Pres Elect Obama) wanted a higher number, but then he said he wanted a lower number because he thought he would get 80 votes rather than barely passing it? ANd if true, who is at blame at this point for buying into what the GOP tells them? The GOP? Or President Obama and his team? Again, I don't see how Rahm is so brilliant given outcomes.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

If Obama thought he would ever get more than a half dozen Republican votes on anything, he is a moron.  

by Kent 2009-08-17 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

I do not think he's a moron. I do question his steel. Untl now I would not have said that, but lately, this has been on my mind. Does he have what it takes to win a fight out right ? I don't know.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

He is probably the weakest President I have seen since George H.W. Bush, who had long been considered a "wimp".  George H.W. showed everyone what he was made of when he agreed to a Democratic tax increase, which he had been saying all throughout 1988 and 1989 that he would fight.  When he caved, it probably ruined his Presidency.  I think the same thing could happen to Obama if he caves on healthcare.  

by Kent 2009-08-17 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

That's the thing.... he's not a moron...  He knows what's up, and he knows he's getting played.  Even Rahm knows it... After the stimulus bill didn't go the way he planned, they did a post mortem of it at the white house... They know what's going to happen...

So, why are they letting it happen, then?  What's the grand strategy, really?

by LordMike 2009-08-17 07:27PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

I also wonder if the White House is secretly hoping for another 1994 that will give them a Republican Congress to run against in 2012.  This would be a downright cynical and selfish thing for Obama to want to do, but I wouldnt rule anything out.  

by Kent 2009-08-17 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

I think you have an overly cynical view of Obama that makes him out to be some evil Machivellian that is as extreme as the Obama apologists. I doubt he is up to what you describe.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 07:45PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

That would be ridiculous...  Obama wants to do big things.... he can barely do them now... he knows he needs even bigger majorities, not smaller ones... and he's got enough GOP backbiting as it is....

by LordMike 2009-08-17 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

I would just hope that he would be more confrontational with Republicans if they were to gain control of Congress.  The whole "concilitory" attitude Clinton took with them throughout most of his Presidency did the party no favors.  I would like to see him take a Harry Truman style, confrontational approach.  That is what I am most worried about.  

by Kent 2009-08-17 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

Truman had approval ratings in the 20's as a result of that confrontational approach, and he managed to get little passed.  In fact, his vetoes were often overridden...

Not exactly the model to follow, really...

by LordMike 2009-08-17 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

Truman managed to get reelected and sweep Democrats back in control of Congress in 1948 with that approach.  I dont know what you are talking about.  

by Kent 2009-08-18 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

The whole nation would view him as a hypocrite after all the talk of changing the politics of Washington if he did that.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-08-17 10:44PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

It is better to be viewed as a tough hypocrite than a complete wuss.

by tarheel74 2009-08-18 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

Do you think people voted for him because he was post partisan?

by bruh3 2009-08-18 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

I think that's what brought so many new people into the process, yes, and what won many Independents and moderates who aren't quite as tied to specific issues and stances.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-08-18 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

Are you confusing the primary with the general? Because what you describe was the primary. What we saw in the general was predictable from the emerging democratic majority that was already trending toward this sort of victory.

by bruh3 2009-08-18 12:44PM | 0 recs
Clinton "conciliatory"

He forced them to shut down the damn government.

by DTOzone 2009-08-17 10:48PM | 0 recs
Re: also remember

I have no idea. My only guess from reading and listening to his previous life is that like Clinton he wanted to fit in and be liked at all cost.

Indeed, that's the assessment of at Americablog:

"What's repeatedly upsetting me, and others, I think, is that Obama appears to spend a lot of time worrying about being liked, and not nearly as much on substance. And if he doesn't care about substance, if he doesn't really care either way as to how every policy debate ends, so long as he can claim victory regardless, then his promises on this, and every other bit of policy making, are meaningless."

http://www.americablog.com/2009/08/krugm an-public-option-as-signal.html#disqus_t hread

I know you are much more open to a non-public option solution than I am. But, this statement by Aravosis at Americablog perfectly encapsulates my concern. Thus, even, if he capitulates on the public option for other policy goals as you see it, I do not see how any of you can be so sure he won't capitulate on  those other aspects of the bill as well?

This is the canary in the coalmine that should concern you.

by bruh3 2009-08-17 07:52PM | 0 recs
no, bipartisan negotiations provide cover...

for moderate and conservative democrats.  this is even more important now that we know that independent voters are influenced by the disruptions at the town hall meetings.

if you want to win.  if this is just an intellectual exercise, then who cares if moderate and conservative dems can vote for it?

by bored now 2009-08-18 03:39AM | 0 recs


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