Francis Vierboom's Blog

A blog about things. Mostly news, ideas, and Sydney

The Obama/Rahm secret plan

with one comment

For anyone following the US healthcare debate closely, today’s news is that the Senate Democrats have decided to roll over and die in the face of the utterly nonsensical and obdurate opposition from bitter ex-Democrat independent Joe Lieberman:

Senate Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Tom Harkin said they would be willing to drop a “public option” government insurance program to win passage of a health-care overhaul.

… Harkin, an Iowa senator and chairman of the Senate health committee, said he also would be willing to drop a proposal to let people as young as 55 buy into the Medicare program for the elderly.

Furious headlines abound. Ezra Klein has made some news himself for attacking Lieberman on the ‘lives saved’ basis, which is to date a taboo topic of the debate. As Ezra notes, the only alternative to compromise with Lieberman is the reconciliation process, which avoids the requirement for 60 votes to end debate, instead just needing a simple majority of 50. But:

…reconciliation, which short-circuits the filibuster, can only be used for legislation that directly affects the federal budget. Anything that “indirectly” affects the budget — think insurance regulations, like the ban on preexisting conditions — would be ineligible.

What would be eligible? Well, Medicare buy-in, for one thing. Medicaid expansions. The public option. Anything, in short, that relies on a public program, rather than a new regulation in the private market.

Everyone today – Bernie Sanders, Burris, Rockefeller, Harkin – all seem to have just given up. Obama’s fixer Emmanuel Rahm has apparently visited Harry Reid to tell him to just drop it and do a deal. It may be that it has dawned on them just how nihilist Lieberman’s approach is to this.

But because this is a blog, there is an another more interesting and more conspiratorial alternative. Rahm quietly says to Reid, OK, pretend to fight on this one, but roll over eventually. Then next year we simply roll out a Medicare extension, or a public option, or whatever can get 50 votes, via reconciliation next year.

Indeed, no conspiracy is required. It actually seems quite obvious, and if nobody realises it now then they will soon. And it could mean a better outcome with stronger reforms, albeit delayed by a few months – rather than a crippled compromise now.

A lot of the writing on the topic seems to assume that the reconciliation bill would come first, and this would piss off too many people to give the regular insurance reforms any hope of going through. I am not sure why this would be the case.

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Written by Francis

December 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] a comment » My conspiracy theory about healthcare reform in the US is slowly coming true… kind of. I had thought they would […]


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