Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just Say "No" was a classic Republican response...It's part of being a conservative.

From Chuck Todd from ABC News


*** Coming Full Circle: Now that the eventual Senate health-care bill won't contain anything resembling a public option -- even the Medicare "buy-in" compromise -- it's worth noting that we've now come full circle back to Max Baucus' Senate Finance bill. You might remember that legislation, which passed committee in October, didn't contain any kind of public option. But Senate Majority Harry Reid decided to insert a public option (with a state "opt out") in his bill, and then later retreated to offer the Medicare buy-in compromise. At the time, many observers (and most notably the White House) were convinced that the eventual legislation would end up looking more like Baucus' bill, simply due to the tough road to 60 votes. Was it a mistake for Reid to make a play for the public option? Given everything that has transpired, a senior Senate Democratic aide said the fight was worth having. "The caucus as a whole had to come to an understanding what was possible and what wasn't possible," the aide told First Read. "Would having a public option made it stronger? Yes. But that doesn't mean it isn't a strong bill." So this was about bringing along the liberal/progressive members...

*** Lieberman Doing The Dirty Work? There is plenty of speculation about whether Joe Lieberman -- by opposing any kind of public option compromise -- was going at it alone or doing the dirty work for a few Senate Dem moderates. (After all, we're no longer talking about Blanche Lincoln, as Politico's Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith reminded us yesterday.) Whatever happened, Lieberman is now clearly on board. The biggest unknown right now is Ben Nelson (over abortion). Also, are we finally going to get that CBO score today? As for President Obama's remarks on health care yesterday, his tone seemed to be one of exasperated optimism -- if there is such a thing -- after sitting down with the Dem caucus. Most of his statement, including the shout-out to Tom Harkin, seemed designed to begin an attempt to calm the liberal wing of the party, which may tell us about the tone of the private meeting.

*** How Many Times Can You Say "No"? While all the attention is focused -- correctly -- on the tenuous Democratic coalition as the president and Senate Dems attempt to get health care passed, does the likelihood that the legislation WON'T include a public option OR a Medicare buy-in mean that some Senate Republicans are running out of reasons to oppose this bill? Isn't the legislation, as it potentially stands, something that Snowe and Collins should be able to support? What about Grassley? It may be that the politics of this and the bitterness that's descended inside the Senate prevent anyone from crossing party lines. But do Republicans risk looking totally like obstructionists if some of their bigger concerns about the bill are gone? Similarly, Republicans are criticizing the administration's decision to relocate Gitmo detainees -- to the president's backyard of Illinois (!!!). At some point, don't Republicans have to agree (or at least try to cut a deal) on something besides Afghanistan?

*** Can You Govern If You're Unwilling To Play Ball? Again, like what appears to be happening on health care, the White House took the sting out of the toughest part of the Gitmo decision (where to relocate the prisoners). Some will say we're being naïve -- that, of course, the GOP is making a political calculation. But will Republicans be able to sell the idea to the middle that they are ready to govern if they don't appear to want to play ball on an issue besides Afghanistan? Aren't they handing Obama the "obstructionist" message that benefited Bush and Clinton in their first terms?

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