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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Deciphering Conrad's Statement on Health Care

Kent Conrad made a startling and curious statement on health care today.

Senate Democrats are going to need help from Republicans to get President Obama's ambitious plan to reinvent the health care system over the goal line, a top lawmaker acknowledged on Sunday.

"Look, there are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our side of the aisle," said Sen. Kent Conrad, the chairman of the powerful budget committee.

Even though the Democrats enjoy a majority in the Senate, some are skittish about the financial or political costs of the proposals.

And Republicans said they will continue their opposition to a plan they claim is simply a government takeover of private decisions.

It's important to put this into context. Social Security passed with nearly unanimous Republican support. Medicare passed with about half of the Republican voting with most Democrats. Sweeping health care reform would be legislation on the magnitude of those two. Democrats would be taking an enormous political risk if they passed this without significant Republicans on board.

At the same time, Conrad isn't merely saying that Democrats don't want to pass health care reform without the Republicans but he's saying he doesn't have the votes in the Democratic caucus. Democrats, of course, have 60 votes in the Senate. That means several Democrats are refusing to get on board.

This has two significant consequences. First, it means that significant numbers of Democrats are aware of the historical context I just laid out. Significant numbers of Democrats are unwilling to put their political hides behind without some Republican cover. Second, this is yet more evidence that health care reform, in its current form, is dead.

Imagine you're a Republican and you just heard what Conrad said. You now know that if your caucus unites against the current plan IT WON'T PASS. What exactly are you going to do if you're Mitch McConnell? In fact, that's exactly where the Republican caucus is at right now.

At this point, speaking about the current health care reform is elementary. We will all do it. I will do it. Make no mistake however, we are all debating a piece of legislation that won't pass. That doesn't mean sweeping health care reform won't pass, but it won't pass in any form near where it is now. Enough Democrats aren't willing to risk their political future on the current legislation. Republicans are NOT going to suddenly get on board. As such, we have put yet another nail in the coffin of the current health care reform bill.


Andy B said...

Mike, I have another take. As you said, health care reform in it's current form will not pass. Democrats know this. So how do they get political mileage out this reality? Blame republicans for it's failure. And how better to do this? Have the chair of a powerful committee go on national television on a Sunday talk show and proclaim that without the republicans support, Americans will not get health care reform. Now with the ground work laid the democrats have their talking points. Now you'll see democrat talking heads across the spectrum referencing Kent Conrad's proclamation that without republicans health care reform can not pass.

mike volpe said...

That's machiavellian and there's no evidence of this. People aren't stupid. The Dems have veto proof majorities in both Houses. They can't blame the Reps with a straight face. I know politics can be absurd but not that absurd. No one is going to believe that the Dems can't pass this because they are being blocked by the Reps when they are fighting against themselves.

Andy B said...

Let me agree with most of what you said if we had a time machine to travel back 8 or so months. These are unusual times. For instance, if I were to post on this blog 8 months ago saying that in 8 months from now the Obama White House and democrat controlled congress, in-cahoots, would oversee the Census from the White House, hire ACORN to administer parts of it, or that the federal government would own General Motors, Chrysler, Banks would be federalized, or that our government passed a useless $787 billion dollar piece of legislation called the stimulus bill that had nothing to do with stimulating the economy, or that a bill called "Cap and Trade" would be one legislative body away from the president signing it into law which would raise the cost of energy for every American. What would your response have been? Perhaps, "That's machiavellian and there's no evidence of this. People aren't stupid...I know politics can be absurd but not that absurd..."?

So when I postulate the possibility that democrats will deceptively try and fool the public into believing republicans killed their health care reform please forgive me for having an inflated imagination.

mike volpe said...

I disagree. Many conservatives said that Obama was far left, tied to ACORN, and that he wanted a massive government take over during the campaign. No one really cared because the economy was horrible and the folks blamed the Reps. So, that's just not true.

If the Dems think they'll be able to effectively blame the Reps for not passing health care then they are fools.

Andy B said...

Go back during the Bush admin and look at some polling data where people were asked about the economy when we had 3% growth and unemployment was 4.5%. They were asked if they thought the economy was in a recession. And large numbers said yes. And towards Bush's last few months in office those numbers were a majority. And that was before we had the financial meltdown. We had the longest monthly continual job growth in the countries history but all you heard was that Bush was Herbert Hoover. All I'm saying is if you don't think the liberal media along with their brethren in government couldn't concoct a false narrative that unsuspecting citizens may unwittingly swallow. Fine. Don't. The evidence is so overwhelming this is possible I don't know what else to say. But I respect your position.

mike volpe said...

Maybe, however Bush won pretty handily in 2004 even though Iraq was breaking down. That was because the economy was doing well. That's the only poll that matters. By 2006, Iraq became such a mess that the Reps lost. In 2008, it was the economy.

No doubt that the media never gave Bush credit for the good economy but the public knew the economy was doing well. Trying to concoct a story that the Reps are responsible when the Dems have a veto proof majority is nonsense.

Andy B said...

Perhaps it is nonsense-until it happens. But I hope I'm wrong and your right.