The Madman Theory Of Political Bargaining

During the Cold War, Richard Nixon employed what was known as the Madman Theory. It posited that demonstrating a willingness to consider "madness" in action would provide you with negotiating leverage. It is not much different than any negotiating strategy really in that a party may demonstrate that it is willing to scorch the rhetorical Earth in order to gain concessions from your negotiation opponents. George Bush and Republicans often employed the "madman" theory of negotiations with Democrats. The "nuclear option" was coined as a result of the similarity to Nixon's strategies. And the use of the reconciliation process was key to the GOP negotiating strategy. Of course there was no controversy among the GOP and the Media regarding the GOP's use of these tactics. But Democrats handwring over it. Kevin Drum writes:

As you may know, there's a group of liberal Democrats in the House who are threatening to vote against any bill that doesn't include a public option. Obviously they're hoping that this threat will be enough to force the conference committee to include a public option in its final report.

But even if this works, no one thinks that such a bill can get 60 votes in the Senate. This means the only way to pass it would be via reconciliation.

So here's my question: supposing this happens, what are we likely to lose if we go down the reconciliation road? The basic rule is that anything that doesn't affect the budget is off limits and would have to be discarded, but in practice only an expert could tell us which provisions are likely to fall foul of the reconciliation rules. So who's an expert on this kind of thing? I don't have a clue. But before I decide what I think of this whole idea, I'd sure like to have a better sense of what I'm likely to get out of it. On one side, I lose the public option but the rest of the bill has a pretty good chance of passing. That's straightforward. On the other side, I get a bill that includes a public option but loses a bunch of other stuff that can't survive reconciliation. Like, say, community rating, which I suspect doesn't have enough budgetary impact to stay intact. Ditto for just about everything else that reforms the private sector insurance industry.

To be fair, Kevin is not handwringing over using these tactics, but rather over what might not survive the reconciliation process.

That said, Kevin makes a few mistakes here. The first of these is misunderstanding that the threat of reconciliation for the public option does not mean that reconciliation would necessarily be used. By having the threat, the idea is the Senate will become more pliable to a bill that includes a public option. Think how the "nuclear option" threat was used to ram through most of the judges Bush wanted. The nuclear option never happened but the THREAT of the nuclear option gave the GOP a tremendous advantage in the bargaining over Bush's judicial nominees.

Kevin's second mistake is in thinking that you need 60 aye votes to pass a public option. this is false. What you need is 60 votes for cloture and 50 aye votes. This is how the bankruptcy reform bill was passed in 2005.

Finally, the idea that Dems would be willing to go to the mat just to get a public option does not mean that a separate bill which would garner wider support could not happen. I think that Dems have the bargaining on this exactly backwards. Since most of the rest of the bill has wider support, getting it in a later bill would be much easier. But getting a public option almost certainly would not be gettable later. Showing a willingness to sacrifice more popular (in the Congress I mean) provisions now is simply smart bargaining. Much of that is already pocketed concessions. The key to the bargaining now is finding the way to get the harder parts through.

In the end, it amazes me how bad the Democrats are at bargaining. Say what you will about the Republicans, they know how to play this game in ways Democrats apparently can not even imagine.

See also Chris Bowers, Atrios and Matt Yglesias.

Speaking for me only

< Will Defeat of the Public Option Kill the Health Care Reform Bill? | Playing Dumb For Obama >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Yup (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:57:22 AM EST
    The latest maddening report is that the House is putting off a vote until late September, to provide a cooling off period. Sometimes you really wonder if most of the Democrats were born yesterday.

    Cooling off period :) (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:16:08 AM EST
    Hee hee hee....yeah, that's going to help a lot.  This issue is affecting a lot of lives and a lot of deaths and a lot of suffering, and a lot of bankruptcy. In this economy they think there's such a thing as a cooling off period?  Knock yourselves out....because you are - but maybe if you are all K.O.ed the angry masses can get something done worthwhile for our children.  Maybe those who are scared to death of Socialism will flop over in a deepened stupor from exhaustion.  It really takes it out of you trying to live at level orange for no reason existing in reality.

    It's not a bad idea (none / 0) (#24)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:36:01 AM EST
    when considering their reasons to delay a vote a couple of weeks:

    Leaders now say the House will put off a vote on health reform until the end of September -- to provide a cooling-off period from the raucous town meetings and to give strategists a better sense of where the Senate is headed.

    I hope the (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by CST on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 10:59:33 AM EST
    House Dems play hardball.  I think they can win this one.  Or as Carville said "make them filibuster".

    Obama is clearly not be willing to play hardball.  But the progressive caucus might be.

    If they can get a public plan to conference (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:02:27 AM EST
    the chances of success go way up IMO.

    Few Senators will "vote for it before they vote against it."


    Backward (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:20:01 AM EST
    Conference is where the good stuff always gets stripped out.

    Conference allows moderate Dems and GOP'ers to vote for something to appease those back home while having assurances by those on the conference committee that what they voted for will never see the light of day when it comes out of conference.


    Aren't you banned from BTD's threads? (none / 0) (#18)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:26:30 AM EST
    Just for a day (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:29:23 AM EST
    that was a substantive comment.

    I think it misunderstands your point - to wit yes he is right some things get taken out in a bill but a lot are kept in.

    to wit, the House and Senate versions of competing bills are RECONCILED. So one could imagine the public option surviving reconciliation for an up or down vote in the Senate while OTHER parts of the House bill are stripped out.  


    Correct (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:35:54 AM EST
    However, I'm not responding to him substantively anymore.

    Fine with me (2.00 / 1) (#34)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:54:15 AM EST
    if you want to look weak and uninformed.  

    A blog is a place for interaction. If you choose not to interact then for me it will be like shooting fish in a barrel. Sometimes life is just too easy.


    True (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:51:22 AM EST
    One could also imagine the public option being stripped out during reconciliation for an up or down vote in the Senate while OTHER parts of the House bill survive.

    Given that the public option is currently DOA in the Senate and pretty much DOA ( "a sliver") with Obama I'd say Vegas odds would be it never gets into a Senate bill and therefore would be stripped out in conference.

    And even if it did survive conference at this point odds are it would never survive and up or down vote in the Senate - which Obama knows which is why he now refers to it as "a sliver".


    Interestingly (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:53:51 AM EST
    This is where the vaunted Rahmbo is supposed to come in and twist arms and get the 50 votes from the Senate.

    To wit, Dems could lose 10 of their own in the Senate and still pass the bill - so Baucus, Conrad and the gang could vote "their conscience" against the bill and we would still get a public option.

    Frankly, it seems a great solution to me.


    Good point ... (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:08:20 PM EST
    but why is so much arm-twisting needed?

    This is the time for Senators to earn the "D" after their names.


    Well (none / 0) (#37)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:03:38 PM EST
    if the Dems lose 10 of their own in the Senate by Baucus, Conrad and the gang voting "their conscience" against cloture there will never be a vote for a public option in the Senate.

    Of course that assumes a public option will come out of Senate committees to even be voted on for cloture which at this point I'd bet that Vegas has long odds on.


    yadda yadda (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:16:28 PM EST
    There won;t be if Obama does not fight for it.

    Psssst, let me let you in on a little secret - Bill Clinton passed his first budget by 1 vote in the House and Al Gore's tiebreaking vote in the Senate.


    Obama fight? (none / 0) (#52)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:32:02 PM EST
    Vegas has him taking "a dive" in Round 3. And it's Round 2 already so don't get up and go to the bathroom or you will miss him being counted out.

    That's a different point (none / 0) (#66)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:04:32 PM EST
    Thanks for understanding FINALLY that Obama COULD make it happen, if he fought for it. Took you a while though.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#72)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:48:16 PM EST
    and the dark side of the moon could be made of cheese.

    I'm afraid you attributing that Obama has possible fight in him when his history shows no such DNA in the guy. But dream on!


    Yeah (none / 0) (#90)
    by cal1942 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:15:37 PM EST
    And who can forget Bob Kerrey's grandstanding.

    But what would David Broder say? (none / 0) (#41)
    by steviez314 on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:11:37 PM EST

    Dean has a site tracking votes (none / 0) (#56)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:46:25 PM EST
    on the public option. Don't know how accurate it is but it is showing "In favor of public option":

    37 Yes, 40 No, 22 Don't know

    Don't knows = Congressperson's position or lack of knowledge by the site?

    I don't know.


    Bet we know (none / 0) (#91)
    by cal1942 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:17:40 PM EST
    who the 40 unequivocal Noes are.

    While congress is doing its thing.... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:26:01 AM EST
    some solutions are already in place at some Pacific NW locations.

    I've heard of the plan, and another where the doctors charge a flat $50 per visit and refuse to take any insurance, but I've not met anyone who has used either of these.


    This is really interesting (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 03:14:33 PM EST
    Doctors adopting this model say they can afford to spend much more time with patients because they avoid the overhead of dealing with insurers, which they say can eat up as much as 40 percent of their income.

    Interesting start, however (none / 0) (#20)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:27:35 AM EST
    "This article is for Paid Subscribers ONLY."

    Then, don't try to print it (none / 0) (#35)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:58:33 AM EST
    If you weren't allowed to look at the page, and read the article it would be behind a login.

    I don't understand what you mean (none / 0) (#39)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:08:02 PM EST
    I believe there is more article that I can't read.

    Interesting plan (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:21:45 PM EST
    MD Squared is quite interesting.

    Qliance has it's own web page, so easy to explore how they set their business model.


    Ahhhh..... (none / 0) (#43)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:12:43 PM EST
    that could be...I have the hardcopy, so didn't read the e-version.

    I'll explore...I think there have been numerous articles in the SeattleTimes on these doctors over the past decade.


    Healthcare-economist ran an article about them (none / 0) (#69)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:17:37 PM EST

    Here's the clinic's actual website: http://www.qliance.com/

    They are awesome. : )


    Yeah! (none / 0) (#71)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:45:52 PM EST
    Let's lock even more people out of our health care system just because they can't cough up the (up-front) dough to afford this kind of kountry klub kare.  

    Actually (none / 0) (#78)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 03:31:32 PM EST
    it's cheaper than the kountry club fare being charged by your good hands insurance companies. If you include subsidies from the federal gov'mint it becomes even more affordable. Guess you prefer being an indentured slave to the current insurance masters before even considering the cost of getting actual care. Guess you prefer your healthcare providers having to waste enormous time arguing with insurance over what they will cover and that time cost being passed on to you.
      If there is no single payer option, no robust public option, would you prefer just being taxed to keep insurance companies in business? Hey how do you like those premium insurance costs? hmmm. . .

    A whole lot of guesses... (none / 0) (#79)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 03:38:12 PM EST
    ...and all of them incorrect.  Try addressing the point of the post and not your "guesses".  

    Pffft (none / 0) (#82)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 04:03:36 PM EST
     They (the coops) are my fallback position, not my preferred. But if I get no single payer, no robust public option, no limits on premium increases, required by law to pay for coverage, then damn right I'll go to the best options I have available-- especially if it cuts insurance issues out of outpatient care. I'll get better care, at less expense than you will and provide less money to the thieves. The Doctors will make more money too, thus insuring higher quality personnel. My income isn't high, I've just eliminated most of my debt which makes it affordable for me.
       If the current craptacular proposals get passed and the option is coops, why not negotiate for the Docs and nurses to be the coops for outpatient care, and limit the insurance piggery to inpatient?

    Sigh. (none / 0) (#84)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 04:26:23 PM EST
    Still not the point.  It isn't about you.  It's about the people who can't afford the up-front costs and/or monthly "dues".  Those who have a relationship with a provider or have on-going medical issues that are kicked to the curb because they can't afford the fees.  

    Or if your medical condition requires more than the standard 4 OV's/e-mails/telephone calls per month?  Talk about rationed health care.  

    Then there's the Medicare people who get locked out because these providers do not provide any billing service and Medicare won't process claims from an individual.  

    And, for the sake of arguement, let's say a provider serves a rural community and goes to the consierge model.  Where does that leave the other people in the area?  

    Not to mention the odious concept that you seem to support, that the profit motive has a place in health care.  


    Actually (none / 0) (#85)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 05:28:30 PM EST
    we may be arguing for the same things. I really prefer medicare for all, because of the problems you mention to the coop idea. And I'm not for the profit motive being in health care. I wish it weren't.
      Actually, I realize the issue for the poor, elderly, and very ill. But Obama in his not so infinite wisdom has decided to keep insurance parasitism as a major player, and keep the profit motive going strong.
       So, with those parameters, there is a working coop that serves its designated constituents well at less cost than the normal insurance involved routes, and is affordable for those with a working class income.
       What to do about the poor? Dunno. Ask Obama. He's the one who's decided to keep feeding the parasites. He's the one who's decided to be against single payer options. He's the one who's said no to medicare for all. That would have solved it. Not perfectly, but mostly. . .

    Perhaps we are. (none / 0) (#88)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 09:40:05 PM EST
    But, I don't see how shifting profits from BigHealth to BigMD is going to help patients, except for those who can afford it.  

    The other problems with the consierge model is that the coverage is so limited.  "Primary care" usually doesn't include prevenative services like colonoscopies, mammograms and the like.  I know I'd hate to have to pay the $4000 for my last sigmoidoscopy out of pocket.  And gawd forbid you get in an auto accident and end-up paying for transport, surgeries and rehab.  

    In fact, the listing of exclusions from the Qfiance website is quite extensive.  Doesn't sound you get a whole lot of value for your monthly fee.  

    For my $, I'd rather have GroupHealth when compared to this model.  But, as you said, Medicare for all is the ideal.  The system is already in place and working relatively well, it would just need expansion and tweaking.    



    Problem with the plan (none / 0) (#26)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:38:28 AM EST
    It does not cover for expenses for hospitalization, so peeps have to carry some sort of catastrophic insurance coverage as well. There is a buy in fee for membership, and a flat fee for service, the care is reportedly good, accessability is good, but it's limited to outpatient services.

    by the way (none / 0) (#27)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:41:40 AM EST
    the Docs say the costs for services are much lower than elsewhere due to lessened overhead expenses. Just sayin'. . . and they get to actually spend more time with patients.

    Shhh! (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:42:23 AM EST
    It's proof, though, that (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:00:16 PM EST
    people can find their own solutions outside of the gov't mandating we buy private insurance at whatever rate they set.

    If they can find a solution to outpatient, they can certainly find a solution to inpatient.


    Actually these providers (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by hookfan on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:32:38 PM EST
    are my backup plan if the Dems do what has been historically performed and capitulate on everything.I can easily get a high deductible catastrophic coverage for inpatient, and can easily pay their membership fee and service fee. By the way, my family income is now limited to 30,000/yr, and I can easily afford it. Heck, their is even free clinics provided in this area, staffed by local Docs that are providing free evaluations. Even the Indian Tribes here have medical clinics providing care at less expense. Their treatment centers are open to all, and it's good care. I get my lab work done their for under 50% what is being charged elsewhere.
    So, it's not the end of the world if their is no public option for those of us who have other options available. But it peeves me, because a single payer option, or a public option, or heavy regulation of the insurance industry is essential to get affordable coverage for all of us.
       Yeah a country boy can survive, but I'm really not satisfied with that.

    $50 sounds good (none / 0) (#38)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:06:04 PM EST
    until you get to lab tests, specialists, hospitalization, and prescriptions, etc etc

    God knows I'm so tired of such punditry (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:07:10 AM EST
    Can I grieve after I actually lose?  I swear to God I'll survive it.  Look at what I survived the past eight years. For now the only playing on the field I want to see is the play to win.....PERIOD!  My husband isn't packing for Afghanistan rehearsing his surrender speech for family and friends.  Jesus Friggin Cripes.....can we get a little Eckhart Tolle on and pundit in the NOW?

    Sorry (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:09:01 AM EST
    I calls em like I sees em.

    I'm seldom ever frustrated with you (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:23:53 AM EST
    You usually put up the facts, put up your take, and then invite debate to form around that.  For me that is what the whole process is about and we get to working solutions.  I'll start laying into you when you start putting up long lectures that in a nutshell are really about how to smile softly and think good thoughts during an a$$ beating.

    And I realize that I need to be clearer here (none / 0) (#77)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 03:26:46 PM EST
    because I'm not.  This is not such a post, neither is Atrios.  Chris Bowers is such a post and that Matt person agrees with Chris Bowers and Atrios but I'm not thinking that Atrios and Chris Bowers agree on what the substances are that derail the progressive caucus.  Chris says that perhaps Paul Krugman is an evil elite and along with the Never President Ever Again Bill Clinton is undermining and destroying the progressive caucuses process with evil memes...sort of nanotech I guess.  I'm not sure how they are affecting the FOR REAL PRESIDENT Obama, but he seems unable to be responsible for much of anything, lets face it...compared to Clinton and the more secret weapon Kruman he has very little power.  And I don't get Matt's nuclear holocaust scenario, and I have no evidence that Atrios and Bowers are onboard with the nuking fear...hell, I don't even know who is nuking who in Mattland and I'm okay with that right now because it is usually hit or miss with me and that guy anyhow.  But I have processed all this processing of processors and I'm no closer to real life sane healthcare.  And I had to retype this because you saw who I dogged in the first draft and you sucked it up into never never land :)

    The kabuki is maddening (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:08:58 AM EST
    The Dems are too afraid to go all out in support of Medicare-for-all, and also too afraid to allow a vote on it that would call them out and make them say no to it.

    Whatever CYA scheme they come up with is going to be horribly ugly. Talk about lipstick on a pig...

    I haven't ranted on the 'it doesn't really take 60 votes to pass a bill' lately, but I sure wish Drum would not accept that framework.

    Kevin Drum is technically right (none / 0) (#16)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:25:28 AM EST
    It does take 60 vote to pass a bill because you first need to get 60 votes for cloture. 60 is 60 regardless of how many ayes it takes after that fact.

    No (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:27:24 AM EST
    TECHNICALLY and substantively, Drum is wrong.

    I gave you the example - the bankruptcy reform bill which passed with less than 60 Aye votes.

    It did have 60 votes for cloture but NOT for the bill itself.


    It still takes (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:42:40 AM EST
    60 votes to get it to a vote. So TECHNICALLY he is correct. If you don't have 60 votes to get it to a vote there is no vote at all.

    60 is 60.


    And of course (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:45:18 AM EST
    Drum understands that you do not need a cloture vote for a reconciliation bill.

    What do you mean (none / 0) (#46)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:20:44 PM EST
    by "reconciliation bill". Are you talking about "conference committee"?

    I ask because a reconciliation bill is normally used in a budget resolution which I don't think directly applies when discussing a public option - i.e. the formation of a new government entity.


    Um (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:28:02 PM EST
    A reconciliation bill is a specific term with a specific meaning.

    A conference report is a specific term with a specific meaning.

    I am not going to school you on elementary Congressional procedure.


    Heh (none / 0) (#59)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:48:49 PM EST
    I'm well aware they are different. Which is why I don't think the reconciliation bill you are suggesting using can be used in this case at all. But if you think it can please explain why because like I already said a reconciliation bill is normally used in a budget resolution. in this case we are not talking about a straight forward budget resolution so a reconciliation bill would not apply here.

    Nope, what will happen is the House will present a bill with a public option and the Senate will most likely present one without a public option. Then the two bills will go to conference committee and the public option will be stripped out.

    At that point the only question is will the House approve the conference report with the public option stripped out? Hopefully not.


    Interestingly (none / 0) (#62)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:00:42 PM EST
    a public option provision can be in budget reconciliation unless you are argung it is not germane to the budget, which I have not heard anyone actually argue.

    Drum's point is that other provisions he deems important would NOT be germane to the budget - the regulatory provisions.


    Well I don't know (none / 0) (#70)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:43:54 PM EST
    Prior to the reconciliation bill comes the reconciliation  instructions:

    A reconciliation instruction is a provision in a budget resolution directing one or more committees to submit legislation changing existing law in order to bring spending, revenues, or the debt-limit into conformity with the budget resolution. The instructions specify the committees to which they apply, indicate the appropriate dollar changes to be achieved, and usually provide a deadline by which the legislation is to be reported or submitted.[1]

    Bolding is mine. So if the above description accurately sums up the reconciliation instructions then there is the fat that there is no "existing law" on the books to change in order to "bring spending, revenues, or the debt-limit into conformity with the budget resolution."

    So I am not sure a reconciliation bill can apply in the case of a new law.

    Of course any detailed discussion of the matter is probably for naught as the Senate will not likely include the pubic opinion in their bill anyway, and even if they did I'd bet filibuster, as does Obama/


    Actually the reconciliation instruction (none / 0) (#74)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 02:26:36 PM EST
    for this year makes including health care reform fairly smooth.

    I guess you missed that.


    I can't miss anything (none / 0) (#76)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 03:18:41 PM EST
    you never posted in your comments or the Drum piece. I think you need to get more sleep.

    And "this year"? Reconciliation goes bill by bill so I don't think you have your facts right. There is no one single 'yearly' Reconciliation bill. Did I mention more sleep for you?

    And "fairly smooth"? First you have the Byrd rule which can make the process very un-smooth. Then you have what Drum brought up and that is what will get cut from the bill because not all things qualify for reconciliation and must be removed from the process and subsequently from the bill. So even if the public option were included in a Senate Bill (which odds are it won't be) the other pieces that make it work could be left out which would make for some uneatable sausage. In fact it is for that very reason that reconciliation would probably not be used.

    Then toss in that what stays and goes in the reconciliation is determined by one lone parliamentarian and no one including Reid, Obama, et al would know exactly what they would end up with as as reconciliation instructions little on in a reconciliation bill

    I guess you missed all that.


    My goodness (none / 0) (#80)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 03:45:04 PM EST
    I will never figure out how you manage to bundle so much aggressive ignorance into every post.

    In this case (none / 0) (#81)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 04:01:32 PM EST
    the answer is in the reader. Even your response reeks of it.

    Always talking out your backside with not a word of substantive comment of the facts I wrote. Non-substantive comment of course because you have none.


    Steve's point is (none / 0) (#83)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 04:23:49 PM EST
    you are ignorant of the reconciliation rule issue for this year's budget. this issue came up earlier in the year.

    It was a big issue.

    I'll make a deal with you. you tamp down on the personal and I will too and I will ask everyone else to too.


    OK (none / 0) (#86)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 05:40:00 PM EST
    I'll make a deal with you. you tamp down on the personal and I will too and I will ask everyone else to too.


    I'll just follow the tone that is set by others. :)

    you are ignorant of the reconciliation rule issue for this year's budget. this issue came up earlier in the year.

    It was a big issue.

    If you are talking about administration officials wanting congress to use the reconciliation process for health reform, I remember something about it but decided to not pay it much attention until it started to be seriously talked about by congress. So far as I know it hasn't - at least in the news.

    I did read today a March piece on it by your boy Ezra Klein. Wiki'd it too so I'm pretty much up to speed on how it works and my post where Steve was more than rude was far from ignorant. There are many hurdles and unknowns as I said so I'm not sure that is a viable way to go unless they carve out the stuff that would not make it through the reconciliation process and put it in a separate non-reconciliation bill. Of course that would contain the working nuts and bolts of the the public option (again a long shot in the Senate)and would be subject to a filibuster. When you think about doing that you would pass the public option shell but would probably lose the nuts and bolts to a filibuster which would effectively kill the public option.

    So the real question is if by some longshot a public option were to make it in a Senate bill how do you navigate the reconciliation bill and still pass the working nuts and bolts that can't be included in the reconciliation bill without facing a filibuster in a separate bill?

    That's the Trillion Dollar Question.

    At this point I can't see a public option happening because the Senate does not seem on board with it and Obama is distancing himself from it. Oh sure he 'can' fight for it. The question is 'will' he? So far he isn't showing that he will. And if he isn't doing it NOW then chances are he has no intention too.

    This entire thing is now turning into getting a political victory complete with trimmings instead of crafting real health care reform. I say screw his political victory. He who does not fight loses. He who may be pulling the wool over everyones eyes deserves to lose too.

    If no public option is forthcoming I am hoping we just go back to square one at the beginning of next year.

    I found the following tactic interesting regarding Bush wanting to drill ANWR through a reconciliation bill:

    That Arctic Refuge provision was removed during the reconciliation process, due to Democrats in the House of Representatives who signed a letter stating they would oppose any version of the budget that had Arctic Refuge drilling in it.[21]

    By using a similar tactic the House could either force the inclusion of a public option or kill the entire process altogether and take us back to square one where we could get it right.


    No (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:44:30 AM EST
    It takes 60 votes agreeing to close debate, not 60 AYE votes.

    You are wrong. again, I gave you an example - the bankruptcy reform bill of 2005.

    I'm sorry that you are having trouble understanding the point.


    And I am sorry (none / 0) (#42)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:11:55 PM EST
    you are having trouble understanding my point.

    I understand your point just fine. 50 vote to pass a bill.

    My point is that it still takes 60 votes to get to the vote to pass the bill. I don't know how much more plainly I can explain that.

    Without the 60 votes for cloture there is no vote on the bill.

    So the first step in passing a bill is to get 60 for cloture.


    Sure sure (none / 0) (#45)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:17:18 PM EST
    Nice and technical like.

    What can I say? (none / 0) (#49)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:25:38 PM EST
    The Senate is a technical place.

    Rules upon rules. Technicality after technicality.


    Yep (none / 0) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:29:01 PM EST
    It sure is.

    60 aye votes for a bill are different than 60 for to close debate.

    Pretty simple for anyone to understand. Not you though.


    If you will pardon my sticking (5.00 / 2) (#55)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:38:40 PM EST
    my nose in here...

    it's like reading those ads that say you can have 5 nights and 6 days in the Caribbean for only $500 and thinking you are just so there you can feel the ocean breeze in your hair...until you read the fine print and realize you're not putting your toes in the clear blue waters unless you can pay for the plane tickets, too.

    No transportation, no vacation; no cloture, no vote.


    That's right (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:46:59 PM EST
    but it's easier to get to 60 for cloture than to 60 for the final bill, which is BTD's point.  It's not a given that everyone who opposes the bill will choose to join a filibuster.

    Heh (none / 0) (#63)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:01:56 PM EST
    It's not a given that everyone who opposes the bill will choose to join a filibuster.

    It's not a given that they wouldn't filibuster either. If you are in the minority and the majority has the votes to pass the bill your only recourse to get your way is to filibuster. Which in this case is highly likely they would filibuster, and Obama knows that hence his crumbling like a house of cards.


    I do not need 60 aye votes (none / 0) (#64)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:02:07 PM EST
    to get cloture. I need 60 votes for cloture.

    My example, for the umpteenth time - the bakruptcy reform bill.

    That some of you do not understand this at this late date is incredible to me.


    Alito didn't have 60 votes (none / 0) (#67)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:13:47 PM EST
    60 is 60 (none / 0) (#54)
    by ChiTownMike on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:36:38 PM EST
    and that is what it takes to get to a vote.

    Pretty simple for anyone to understand. Not you though.


    Yep that banlruptcy reform bill (none / 0) (#65)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:03:15 PM EST
    failed because it did not have 60 aye votes all right.

    The vote for cloture (none / 0) (#92)
    by cal1942 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:52:07 PM EST
    provide's cover.

    As an example Obama voted Yes on cloture (ending debate clearing the way for a floor vote)for the Roberts confirmation.  Then voted No on the actual up or down confirmation vote.

    Obama voted yes on cloture knowing full well that Roberts would be confirmed.  He then voted NO on the floor vote to put his opposition to Roberts on the record.  Something his supporters either did not know or simply ignored.

    Baucus, Conrad, etc. can vote yes for cloture and then vote no in the subsequent up or down vote.


    Aaaarrgh (none / 0) (#58)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:47:48 PM EST
    Ya had to go and make me rant again...

    60 votes is for shutting down debate, ie. breaking a filibuster. It is just recent Senate agreement that just by threatening a filibuster you can make every bill need 60 votes to pass. If people actually had to put on a filibuster instead of just threatening it, there would be a lot fewer of them. I want to see Conrad and Baucus and Nelson and their buddies up there talking nonstop for a couple of weeks about why we can't have single-payer, medicare for all, or a robust public option.  There would be 60 votes to shut them up in no time at all because the longer they would talk, the worse they would all look.

    Then we could get to a vote that only needs 50 + biden.


    And if we never got the 60 votes (none / 0) (#60)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:57:39 PM EST
    to shut down the filibuster, it would be clear that the bill didn't get a vote because the Republicans and Blue Dogs blocked real reform.

    Bowers down in the comment section (5.00 / 7) (#8)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:15:01 AM EST
    nails it:

    I don't know if it is coordinated by the white House, but clearly Democratic Party elites have decided it is easier to pressure 60 House Progressives than it is to pressure a dozen Senate Conservadems.

    That isn't surprising to me, since historically the Progs have been easier to pressure than the Blue Dogs or the Consservadems. Past Progressive collapses have put them in a tough spot here.

    Capitulation leads to expected capitulation. Time to stop the cycle.

    It is the Democratic way (5.00 / 11) (#9)
    by Steve M on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:15:35 AM EST
    to fret over questions of process.  In my mind it's simply a way to rationalize bad outcomes.

    Classic example, seen all over the liberal blogs: "I'm glad Obama isn't using all kinds of LBJ arm-twisting techniques.  I didn't vote for him just to get another dictator like Bush!"  Sigh.

    It is fine to talk about which tactics will and will not work.  It is not fine to tie your own hands by making up rules that only apply to your own side and amount to nothing but sour grapes.  Are we supposed to believe that if Obama really did get tough with Congress and a great bill got passed, these people would genuinely be upset that some hardball tactics were used along the way?  Of course not.  But if he doesn't do it, they want to believe it's for some noble reason.

    On a personal level, millions of people are being victimized by the dysfunctional health care system in this country.  On a macro level, the mushrooming cost of health care is bankrupting us.  The urgency is far too great to sit around fretting about which legislative tactics the Marquis of Queensbury would find acceptable.

    Bravo (none / 0) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:19:54 AM EST
    Yeah and funny (none / 0) (#93)
    by cal1942 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 01:59:27 PM EST
    that had LBJ not twisted arms out of joint the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not have passed.

    Obama's campaign in the primaries was about process, the post partisan unity shtick and a not small percentage of his followers ate it up.

    He wouldn't have won the nomination without it.  Sad part is that he was serious.


    I am also amazed at how bad Democrats (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:17:11 AM EST
    are at negotiating. Not just the Democratic politicians either. The Democratic activists and voters are as deficient at this tactic as the politicians.

    While we moan and groan at how bad the politicians are, we refuse to look at our own actions. So far the scenario looks like this to me.

    We want a single payer system.

    push back from opponents

    O.K. we will settle for a ROBUST public option

    push back from opponents

    O.K. we will settle for a weak ineffectual public option

    push back from opponents

    H&ll I'll settle for anything. Will you please just give me something even if it really bad

    Republican activists ask for the moon and draw a line in the sand. They don't get everything they want but in this scenario they would have at least gotten a ROBUST public option.


    First of all (5.00 / 3) (#68)
    by NYShooter on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 01:16:49 PM EST
    Obama placed a poison pill into the health care debate during the primaries. Because, I believe, he never really cared about health care reform in the first place, his only goal was a political one; "whatever Hillary is for, I'm against." Besides the wretched "Harry & Louise ads, the more important, and cynical, part was when he said, "Hillary's plan would "Force" you to buy insurance even if you couldn't afford it. I believe Government shouldn't "Force" Americans........"................ Right out of the GWB playbook.

    Since the huge advantage he had over Hillary was with the uninformed, disinterested, and idolizing "youth," it showed me that he was not only a "Pol," but a slimy one at that.
    Now that he's President, he has to actually "do something." Unfortunately, he's finding out, for the first time in his career, that implementing policy is not nearly as easy, or fun, as winning election.

    Who was it that said something about being "ready on day 1?"


    Well we have to deal with the president (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by MO Blue on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 02:10:52 PM EST
    and the Congress that we have NOW. My point is that I do not think that we are dealing with them as effectively as we could.

    We rightly criticize the Dems for not using good negotiating techniques and for capitulating on important issues. Yet, too often we do the same thing.

    If we ever want to succeed on important issues, we need to start asking for even more than what we want and start drawing some lines in the sand at the beginning of the negotiating process and stand firm. We might not get everything that we want but we wouldn't end up with an empty plate either.  


    But didn't everybody in the primaries (none / 0) (#87)
    by Spamlet on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 05:43:31 PM EST
    have a political goal, viz, winning the nomination?

    Obama placed a poison pill into the health care debate during the primaries. . . . his only goal was a political one. . . . the huge advantage he had over Hillary was with the uninformed, disinterested, and idolizing "youth"

    I switched from Edwards to Clinton in the primaries, and I too thought Hillary's health care plan (channeling the one initially put forward by Edwards) was better than Obama's. But even though so many of the debates centered on the difference between Clinton's and Obama's health care plans (shorthand: mandates vs. no mandates), those of us who were paying attention know very well that the nomination wasn't won (or awarded, if you will) on the basis of what any of the candidates said about their health care plans.

    So how is it accurate to say that Obama "placed a poison pill into the health care debate during the primaries"? It clearly didn't matter much--and especially not to the "uninformed, disinterested, and idolizing 'youth'"--what the candidates said what about health care during the primaries.


    Well, I didn't know (none / 0) (#89)
    by NYShooter on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 04:39:44 PM EST
    that "being for something, before being against it" or vice-versa was good politics.

    I could be wrong, however.


    The really terrible part (none / 0) (#94)
    by cal1942 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 02:03:37 PM EST
    is that he was actually serious about the PPUS.

    I still can't understand why anyone paying any attention supported him in the primaries.


    Drum doesn't seem to ... (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:31:15 AM EST
    understand the notion of brinkmanship.

    The point of using the threat of reconciliation is that it immediately puts the Republicans in a defensive position.

    If the WH or Congress were even single-dimensional chess players, they would understand that when your opponent is placed in a defensive position your range of offensive actions doesn't contract it expands.

    I think it's kind of hard to make (5.00 / 3) (#48)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:24:55 PM EST
    a decision about whether losing the so-called public option would be "okay," since most people have no idea whether the bill/plan that remains is a "good" bill.

    Does Kevin know?

    Is the focus just going to be on the elements that Obama keeps emphasizing - no rescissions, no exclusions for those with pre-existing conditions, no raising rates when people get sick, no dropping of coverage when people need it - without any discussion about how these are likely to affect affordability, when any reform will go into effect, whether the insurance companies will face any regulation in the meantime, what the penalties will be to insurance companies who violate these regulations, whether existing policies for those who are already insured, either on their own or through an employer-based plan, will be exempt from new regulations to be imposed on new policies.

    I think the real question people should be asking is, regardless of whether there is or is not a "public" option, will what is being proposed move us in the right direction on reform, or is it really, when all is said and done, an insurance and pharmaceutical industry bonanza that is going to do nothing - or very little - to improve access to and affordability of care, and pull us out of the giant financial sinkhole we're standing in?

    Dem's give whimps a bad name (none / 0) (#7)
    by mmc9431 on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:13:42 AM EST
    I can't remember the last time the Democrat's really stood up to the Republicans. Whether it was Fisa, the war, torture, the list is endless.

    We seem to give them a  little sucker punch and wham! We hit the mat.

    Isn't Biden the "decider" .... (none / 0) (#10)
    by magster on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:15:36 AM EST
    on parliamentary issues so that if he presides and decides that something relates to the budgetary issues, it does?

    dday seems to believe (none / 0) (#25)
    by lilburro on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 11:36:02 AM EST
    the public option is the nuclear option. post here Kind of a mediocre bargaining chip though.

    Interesting (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Aug 17, 2009 at 12:57:45 PM EST
    One quote:

    (One thing nobody who endorses this type of plan talks about is the fact that we have no national regulatory framework for health insurance companies, and the regulatory vigor in the states, where they are now regulated, varies widely from one to the other, so the plan on offer would either have to create a large new bureaucracy to accompany that regulation of insurers, or rely on the balkanized state approach. Neither is ideal.)

    Here in Washington state, our government tried to regulate the individual insurance market semi-vigorously.  Insurance answered by taking their toys and leaving for a  few years.  They came back, only because they pretty much got everything they wanted.

    The only way to regulate insurance is at a national level.  If the bill did nothing but that, it would be a step in the right direction.