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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Health Care Reform is Still on the Ropes

Just as Henry Waxman seemed to appease the center with a deal with the Blue Dogs, that same deal has a potential of a "rebellion" from the left.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent half of Wednesday finalizing a deal with the Blue Dogs — and the other half quelling a brewing rebellion among progressives who think conservatives have hijacked health care reform.

Liberals, Hispanics and African-American members — Pelosi’s most loyal base of support — are feeling betrayed after House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) reached an agreement with four of seven Blue Dogs on his committee who had been bottling up the bill over concerns
about cost.

The compromise, which still must be reconciled with competing House and Senate versions, would significantly weaken the public option favored by liberals by delinking reimbursement rates to Medicare.

One of the concessions that the Blue Dogs were able to negotiate was a weakening of the "public option". This is a cause celebre among those on the left, and certainly the far left. With it weakened, it's unclear how many of them will vote for the deal, and there's a lot more liberals in the caucus than there are Blue Dogs. So, it appears to coax the middle, Waxman, Pelosi, et al may have lost the left.

Furthermore, the deal in the Energy Committee was cut with only four of the seven Blue Dogs on the committee. That's enough, if Dems hold everyone else, to pass it out of the Energy Committee. It's still unclear how many of the full 52 Blue Dogs are on board with this deal. It's even less clear just how many liberals will be held with this deal.

So, ironically enough, this deal might wind up meaning less votes in the Democratic caucus. It points out two significant problems. The first is structural. This shows again the problem that Dick Morris pointed out first. The Democrats are a collection of factions and it's nearly impossible to craft legislation that will appease them all. (or at least enough of them to get a majority) Between the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Blue Dogs, and the liberals that's a lot of people to keep happy. It turns out that it's too many people to keep happy and the Democrats simply can't find a majority on any piece of legislation.

Even more troubling for those in charge, it appears that there is no leadership. How in the world did Waxman secure this deal without making sure the liberal wing would be on board? Furthermore, if the public option is a deal breaker why is Baucus negotiating a coop in the Senate? Even if Baucus figures out how to make a deal with his committee and gets it passed out of his committee, the liberals clearly wouldn't be on board. It looks as though the Democrats aren't talking to each other. People are making deals without knowing the numbers. That's chaos and a total failure of leadership.

Earlier, I said that this deal got them some momentum back. I'm changing my analysis. This deal is symptomatic of the total chaos that the Democrats are governing with.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First, I think Waxman, Pelosi, and Rahm Emanuel didn't actually think the Progressive Caucus would put up much resistance. After all, Pelosi and Waxman probably think just getting some Blue Dogs to back down on their refusal to vote for a public option was a victory in and of itself. As for Rahm, he probably didn't even care. He's more of a Blue Dog than anything else.

As for the Senate, I'm pretty certain Reid tried to rein in Baucus but Baucus probably convinced himself that he was saving his party from its own liberalism or something.

Its easy to criticize the Democratic leadership (especially Reid, you'd think after the Debacle with Daschle in 2004 they would have had enough sense to stop appointing Red State Democrats to leadership positions) but realistically, this is what happens when you have a Republican Party comprised entirely of conservative religious whites and a Democratic Party comprised entirely of everyone else.