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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

 
Squeeze Play

by digby

Alert the media. Bipartisanship only goes one way:

The Hill flags the latest right-wing attack on Republican Senator Bob Bennett--a TV ad from the Club of Growth that slams the Bennett for supporting "massive government control of health care" that will impose "job-killing tax increases." If you missed the first five seconds of the ad, it would be easy to assume that Bennett's bill--which the ad doesn't even bother describing--is one and the same as Obama's health care plan. In fact, the ad rather obliquely attacks the Healthy Americans Act, the alternative reform proposal that Bennett co-sponsored with Wyden, flashing the bill's formal title (S. 391) for just a second on the screen. From the start, of course, Wyden-Bennett bill has been attacked from the left and right for changing fundamental elements of the current employer-based insurance system. But the new climate of right-wing fear-mongering has allowed conservatives to sharpen their claws, accusing anyone who consorts with Democrats of turning the country's health care system into a socialist (or is it fascist?) boondoogle.

In fact, the Wyden-Bennett bill would actually facilitate consumer access to the private market, allowing far more people to access a national health insurance exchange and choose between different (private!) insurance plans. But Bennett's right-wing opponents have seized on the fact that the government has any role in setting up such an exchange as evidence of big-government-loving heresy.


There has been talk that Obama could have passed the Wyden-Bennett bill because it had bipartisan buy-in. Clearly not. (I'm not saying he couldn't have passed it, just that its Republicans sponsors would have likely ended up voting against it themselves.)

The good news is that it's possible the Democrats are recognizing that because of this kind of behavior, their excuse that they must have bipartisan support is looking more and more like the sell-out it is. Their friends in the GOP aren't giving them any cover, the pretense is ridiculous. Perhaps that's why you have gang of six member Jeff Bingaman saying this:


A Democratic member of the "Gang of Six" senators charged with finding a bipartisan solution to health care reform said at a town hall Monday that he would support using the budget reconciliation process to push a bill through the Senate if necessary.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico has been one of three Democrats participating in the widely-watched Finance Committee negotiations. His willingness to consider reconciliation is another sign that a a genuine bipartisan deal may be impossible.

"We made a provision in the budget resolution [earlier this year] that it could be used to try to enact health care provisions related to health care reform," Bingaman said. "There are restrictions to what you can include in that...but I would support it if that's the only way."


What's interesting about that is the tone more than anything else. The sell-outs are almost begging the Republicans to help them pass the terrible, insurance company giveaway bill they want so badly --- and the Republicans just won't cooperate. They are making the Democrats go this alone, which is the last thing they want to do because they have to face their own voters after passing something that won't work --- and now they know the Republicans will kill them no matter what they do. They have nowhere to hide.

If these Democrats had a brain in their heads they'd realize that the best way to maintain their power (and keep getting those big bucks) is to pass a good bill. Successful reform will be their only defense because the true political downside to passing a bad bill now is being out there alone selling out the American people all by themselves.

It's quite clear these corporatists really don't want to pass a good bill --- they are, after all, more loyal to big business than the Republicans at this point, who see that there is great political hay to be made in taking the populist side (at least until they get back into power.) But in the end the Republicans may just force them to pass something decent anyway by failing to give them the cover for capitulation they so desperately need. It's an interesting squeeze play that may backfire on the GOP in the long run if good health care reform is passed. (Let's hope so anyway.)

It's ironic that if real health care reform is ultimately achieved, it will be at the hands of obstructionist Republicans who refused to help the sell-out Dems. What a screwed up system.


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