The Madman Theory Of Political Bargaining, Part 5

The inevitable begins. Steve Benen:

Late yesterday, the Gang of Six managed to connect over the phone. They reportedly raised the idea of moving the reform legislation even further to the right [. . .]

At the risk of beating a dead horse, note that the only reason to "rein in the scope" of reform, and try to make the efforts much cheaper, would be to satisfy the demands of conservative Republicans -- the conservative Republicans who oppose health care reform, and who intend to vote against the bill anyway. This is madness.

(Emphasis supplied.) Madness for Democrats theoretically committed to serious health care reform. For Republicans and Dems like Baucus (and Obama?), not so much. For them it is shrewd political bargaining. It's a wonder that Klein, Yglesias, Drum, Starr and Benen do not get that.

On political bargaining, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Speaking for me only

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    "It's a wonder that . . . (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:03:09 AM EST
    . . . Klein, Yglesias, Drum, Starr and Benen do not get that."

    I dont think its a matter of their not getting it.  I think it is simply that they have too much invested in his success to do anything but cheerlead.

    they have made him "to big to fail".

    Will the Dems go into 2010 (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:08:57 AM EST
    with any base left? Core elements of the Democratic base are taking health care real serious.

    Instead of real health care reform, a small group of conservative Democrats in the House and Senate are working with Republicans in a bid to tax the same health benefits union members made countless concessions for, while dropping the public option that would lower the skyrocketing health care costs that are keeping many working people up late at night.

    We have been promised that when push came to shove, the Blue Dogs would join their fellow Democrats and stand by working people.

    Push has come to shove. And from the way things now stand, union members feel deceived.

    Due to this, my union, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA), has decided to suspend all financial and intangible campaign activity in support of every political candidate until real health care reform is passed.

    Shifting left (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:29:48 AM EST
    It's going to get a little bloody I think.  It probably needs to be that way too.  It should never be easy to screw your party base over like it was in the big money bullhonk bookkeeping days of corporations selling air and actually getting paid for it :)

    SEIU sounds darn serious (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 11:57:17 AM EST
    and it's huge, so that could have major impact.

    I'm waiting see what AFT, another huge one, says -- and we may be able to wedge it in my state, where we just got the right to collective bargaining, so we soon will be wooed by the union.  


    sad (none / 0) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:10:05 AM EST
    that this is all they will understand

    Not at all. It's great to see (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 11:58:06 AM EST
    unions may not be pushovers for a pretty face and a few promises anymore.

    Here is the strategy (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by Steve M on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:09:08 AM EST
    Progressives should announce that even if the bill contains a robust public option, we still won't support it.  This should immediately cause everyone to give us what we want.

    Heh (5.00 / 6) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:13:46 AM EST
    Single Payer or NOTHING!!

    You joke, but that should have been the strategy.


    no sorry, thanks for playing (none / 0) (#8)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:13:04 AM EST
    it doesnt work that way.  only right wingers have that ability.  like the this thought experiment from E. J. yesterday:

    Try a thought experiment: What would conservatives have said if a group of loud, scruffy leftists had brought guns to the public events of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush?

    We know they removed people (none / 0) (#12)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:16:32 AM EST
    with t-shirts and bumper stickers at GWB events.

    It didn't even take that (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Cream City on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:26:43 AM EST
    as my family and I weren't wearing t-shirts with words on them or carrying signs when Bush came to town, but a few blocks from me.  But the SS and local cops demanded that we move, anyway -- from the public sidewalk a block away from the site of his speech.

    It was on my (state, public) campus, as I pointed out to the SS and local cops.  So as others were moved out of sight, I had my group move off the sidewalk and onto campus so we could just shake our fists and yell when the Bush bus went by.

    Turns out we got national coverage, because the press bus followed, and we were reported as one of the first protests against him -- because it also turns out it was common practice in that regime to move protesters so far away that the press never saw protests to report then.  (The problem being, of course, a compliant and complicit press that stayed on the bus provided and never got off the beaten path to report news.)


    Heh (none / 0) (#22)
    by cawaltz on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:07:20 PM EST
    according to the stereotype we don't have guns(lefties are dirty hippies who stage sit in and talk about peace and love). We hate the second amendment. The media would have been perplexed at the very least.

    History provides the answer (none / 0) (#25)
    by Steve M on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:24:33 PM EST
    Perhaps They Are All Counting (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by The Maven on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:15:57 AM EST
    on the American voting public to be particularly dense on this one.  Since much of whatever little does end up getting passed won't come into effect until 2013 or so, that means that the sniveling right-wing appeasers (including the president himself) could go around for the next three years --including, of course, Obama's re-election campaign -- claiming that they got health care reform passed, it's working wonderfully so far, and just you wait until it all comes fully into effect!

    Their hope would be that by the time people realize that "reform" has done virtually nothing to rein in many of the biggest issues (cost control, recission, etc.), it will be so far out into the future that the blame could be placed on other external factors, not the fatally flawed bill itself.  Hey, it's a strategy that worked pretty well for the Republicans over the course of 25 years, so just because it's intellectually dishonest and tries to force stupidity upon the voters, why not give it a whirl?  Thus we will have further sunk into the gutter, debasing the Democratic brand (which has already been sullied by this sorry group) such that it stands for nothing more than political expediency.

    Sorry for the extreme cynicism, but (aside from perhaps Social Security reform in 2005) I can't recall a major piece of legislation ever being so poorly played when one party nominally has such significant control over Congress and the White House.  Timidity never creates a lasting legacy -- only action and determination can do that.

    One of my biggest problems is (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by cawaltz on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:09:45 PM EST
    that it seems that Democrats are bound and determined to use the same playbook as the failed GOP. I get the sense of deja vu watching them plead with the GOP to "come to the table."

    triangulation (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by souvarine on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:27:24 AM EST
    The risk, with Obama, for liberals and progressives was always that he would triangulate against the liberal Democrats in Congress. His positioning on torture and accountability were a surprise, given his campaign rhetoric, but his financial and health care reform plans are not. His health care reform plan was the most conservative of the Democratic candidates, remember he (and his online allies) made a lot of hay attacking the more progressive features of his primary opponent's reform plans.

    So it may be that the Gang of Six, and the Republicans generally, are useful to Obama as a counterweight to the progressive pressure he reluctantly acceded to in the primaries.

    The alternative explanations, that Obama is naive or mad, are less likely. Even the argument the Obama is a poor negotiator is unlikely, he appears to be satisfied with the deals he struck on regulating the financial industry and there is little reason to think he will be disappointed with a weak public aspect to health care reform.

    That being said (none / 0) (#24)
    by cawaltz on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:12:44 PM EST
    I never got the impression he'd go to the mat on health care. With enough pushback we might have a chance to reform the system in a substantial way.

    Further right...... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by cawaltz on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:46:35 PM EST
    Hmmmmmmmmm sounds like we have gotten to the part where they get the surrender monkeys to agree to pare down subsidies in return for regulation and mandates. Oh goody.

    At least there is an opportunity (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 09:57:09 AM EST
    to write about and support the good fight before we blow anything up this time :)  I hope they all get busy.

    Your link to Benen doesn't work. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Maryb2004 on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:00:55 AM EST

    Thanks (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:05:02 AM EST

    Comment by Domoge (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:13:56 AM EST
    a little way down in the Benen thread pretty accurately describes the Dem negotiating style.
    Ends with the Dems offering to impeach Obama.

    Any chance we can ditch the Gang of Six altogether? Why does the Senate bill have to come out of that committee?  andgarden?

    Senate Rule 14 permit the Majority Leader (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:16:53 AM EST
    to bypass the Finance Committee (or any other committee) and bring the measure to a vote. Buuut, that requires 60 votes I believe.

    However, RECONCILIATION and/or a vote on a House/Senate conference report do not go to committees.

    That is the way Baucus and Co. will be bypassed, if they are.


    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 10:24:54 AM EST
    I think the only hope for a decent bill is to go around that committee, however if there were any inclination to do that, Reid and Obama would not have invested them with so much importance to begin with.

    all this ass-kissing of the right by dems.... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Dadler on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 11:17:15 AM EST
    ...and they hope it lets them say they passed a "reform" bill.  


    all it will produce is policy that doesn't make a dent in the problem, almost assuredly will make it worse, and makes it "easier" for repubs to run in 2010.


    personally, my favorite part is the handshake deal with those in the industry to voluntarily keeps costs down.  i mean, seriously, is obama really THAT naive?