Eleven-Dimensional Chess On The Public Option?

6 comments January 13th, 2010at 06:39pm Posted by Eli

One of the strangest things about the healthcare reform battle is how many public option supporters have come out in favor of the terrible public optionless Senate bill.  Just off the top of my head, we’ve got Wendell Potter, Jacob Hacker, Vicki Kennedy, Paul Krugman, Russ Feingold, and Bernie Sanders – all have basically said that while the Senate bill is far from perfect, it’s still a monumental step forward and we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good yadda yadda yadda.

So here’s what I’m wondering: One of the strategies that was talked about to get the public option passed in the face of resistance by the Lieberman Caucus was the use of budget reconciliation to pass the public option piece and anything else with a budgetary impact, and a separate, regular subject-to-filibuster bill to pass the rest.  The risk was always that Nelson and Lieberman would be so incensed at being bypassed on the public option that they would filibuster the other piece, no matter how rich with corporate goodies it was.

But what if Obama and Reid got them to vote for “the rest” first, and then added the public option (and maybe fixed the excise tax?) via reconciliation after? That would be the best way to get the full healthcare reform package passed, but it only works if that second half is a secret, otherwise Nelson and Lieberman would sabotage the first half.

Do I believe that this is actually Obama and Reid’s Cunning Plan?  Well no.  But I can certainly imagine them convincing various wishful-thinking public option supporters that it is.  That scenario would perfectly explain the otherwise inexplicable behavior of the public option supporters: They haven’t been bribed or threatened, just tricked into believing that the Senate bill is just one necessary part of a much better whole, which can’t pass unless the other, better part remains a secret.

Unfortunately, the actions of a diabolically clever and ruthlessly pro-public option President and Majority Leader are pretty much indistinguishable from the actions of a craven and corrupt President and Majority Leader, so I guess we won’t know for sure until after the Senate bill passes.  Of course, we’d still be stuck with either the Stupak or Nelson amendment, but hey, Roe v. Wade is a small price to pay for healthcare reform, right?

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Obama,Politics


  • 1. Cujo359  |  January 13th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    I’ve remarked on the disconnect these people have with those of us who will actually be “benefiting” from this bill, but that only explains how it’s possible that they can think the way they do. Why they think that way is something I don’t understand (cue some mental midget to suggest “Well, maybe they’re smarter than you.”)

    I really think they look on this as being another “process” story. What matters is whether Obama can navigate the thicket of the Congress and emerge with a bill. It just doesn’t matter to these people what that bill contains, if anything. Every argument I see in favor of the Senate bill really does strike me as that shallow.

    If that’s the case, then these are pathetically stupid people, and we should avoid listening to them ever again.

  • 2. Eli  |  January 13th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Well, that might explain the likes of Krugman and Nate Silver, but what about Vicki Kennedy, Wendell Potter, Jacob Hacker, Russ Feingold, and Bernie Sanders?

    It seems like they were either completely insincere in their support of the public option, or else they were somehow persuaded to get on board with the Senate bill.

    I’m just trying to figure out an explanation that doesn’t involve threats or bribes, but something more mundane and benign, like lies and misdirection.

  • 3. shoephone  |  January 14th, 2010 at 3:05 am

    I’m sorry to say it, but after believing the Bernie Sanders hype for so long — “He’s a socialist’s socialist! Rah rah!” — I couldn’t listen to his weak-kneed drivel on the Thom Hartmann Show anymore. He’s been on there every week ( a segment called, “Brunch with Bernie”) for at least three years, and I’ve come to the conclusion he is just as vapid and spineless as the rest of them. As soon as he became a senator, all his mythological vim & vigor went right out the second-story window. He never answers a question head-on, just offers up the same ol’ cliches about how unions saved the workin’ man.

    Whenever he’s been challenged directly by a caller, on the subject of the health care bill (because God forbid Hartmann should have the balls to do it), he dissembles and backflips and makes it clear the power of the warm Senate seat is all that matters now.

    I’m not even angry at these fools anymore. Too exhausted for that. I’m just plain disgusted. As a 50-year old former business owner, and soon to be freelancer once again, I expect the final bill to be a literal pain in my neck.

    Too bad the Medicare buy-in for 55-year olds got scrapped. By the time the thing kicked in, I would have only had about one year of twisting in the wind.

  • 4. Cujo359  |  January 14th, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I don’t know what’s on Hacker’s or Potter’s mind, Eli, but the others are folks involved in the process. They’re politicians, and what politicians do is make deals. That’s what they appear to be focusing on, so I’m not too surprised that they could think this way. In fact, it’s almost an explanation for why they do.

  • 5. Cujo359  |  January 14th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I’ve had similar thoughts about John Kerry, shoephone. He started out being this anti-war activist, and yet in the end he voted to make someone be the last man (or woman) to die in Iraq. What is it about the Senate that makes people this way?

    Someone should do a longitudinal study of this, complete with medical histories. It’s bound to be a fascinating psychiatric subject.

  • 6. Multi Medium » Demo&hellip  |  January 21st, 2010 at 12:38 am

    […] actually sort of predicted this about a week ago, although this scenario is broader and less secretive: If Brown beats Democrat Martha Coakley in the […]

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