Would The Senate Doublecross The House?

In a piece by Jon Chait that is marred through and through by bad analysis, I thought this statement the most questionable:

Republicans are [. . .] alerting the House that Senators will betray any deal they make. [. . .] Clearly, this is mostly a bluff. After all, Senate Democrats would be crazy to make specific promises to the House and then renege on them -- they would never pass another bill again.

First, a bluff is threatening to do something yourself, not predicting what someone else will do (there is a lot of misuse of poker in this piece.) Second, when was the last time anyone paid a price for double-crossing any Dem ever? The Senate has failed to pass 290 passed bills passed by THIS House. This would only be number 291. More . . .

Chait's analysis in the entire piece is bad. For example, he writes:

A few years ago, Tom Edsall wrote a great Diarist for TNR arguing, based on his years of playing poker in Washington, that Republicans are better players than Democrats:

Republicans are much less risk-averse than Democrats, and taking risks is crucial to poker. Howard Baker noted that Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut was a "riverboat gamble." The GOP has consistently demonstrated a willingness to risk high deficits, especially to cut taxes that fall on their biggest donors. [. . .] Democrats, conversely, are the party of risk-aversion- [. . .] They are less able to tolerate the tension and uncertainty of a game in which a week's salary--or more--can be won or lost in a single hand.

Clearly, some element of this has borne out in the health care fight. Republicans have made the fight as high-stakes as possible. Rather than offer some compromise bill, which at least one moderate Democrat would surely have jumped on, they formed a solid wall of opposition, and made reform an all-or-nothing proposition. They've played the issue with maximal aggressiveness, forcing the Democrats to cash in on a landmark bill or collapse in utter defeat.

This is completely wrongheaded analysis. First off, the political bargaining on the health issue was never a poker situation. It was always a bargaining situation.

Second, Republicans were never at the bargaining table. Republicans have never bargained on the health care reform issue because there was absolutely no upside for them politically in it. Faking bargaining is not the same thing as bargaining.

Was Olympia Snowe bargaining? Perhaps. But she was the only one. No other Republicans has been bargaining.

The negotiation was all among Dems. From the beginning. And now till the end. It was always ridiculous for Dems to concern themselves with the GOP as bargaining partners. While there was certainly a level of kabuki that needed playing for political purposes, no one can seriously think there was ever any serious bargaining going on.

The other flaw in Chait's analysis is related to the first - it lumps in all Dems together as if they have the same views and same political interests. they clearly do not. Thus when Chait writes:

I just wonder if Democrats are actually foolhardy enough to heed these warnings. After all, as I keep pointing out, the two parties are engaged in zero-sum electoral competition. Why on Earth would you do what your opponent is urging you to do? It's possible that Edsall is right -- Democrats are so risk-averse they can be bullied into folding their hand on a huge pot just by sheer bluster. But they can't be that pathetic, can they?

The interest of Dems as a group has long been scattered to the wind on the health care reform issue. Obviously, it is in President Obama's political interest to pass a bill. But what helps Obama does not necessarily help Dems in their individual 2010 races. It is not a zero sum game for Dems, in that it might help some to see a bill passed and it might hurt others to see a bill passed.

That is why the bargaining process amongst Democrats was critical and why it was so damaging that so much time was wasted pretending to bargain with Republicans. The actual hard bargaining, the actual meaningful bargaining, never took place in favorable circumstances. Concessions were handed to folks who never were going to vote for a health bill. In legislation, you can't give the same concession twice.

Chait's piece is emblematic of the generalized failure of Democrats to understand big picture, in the open political bargaining. Can they do backroom deals? I suppose so. But big policy negotiations? Clearly not.Speaking for me only

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    Relatedly, Jay Cost (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:17:33 AM EST
    has some interesting thoughts about the Stupak problem. I think he's wrong about two things. First, the Republicans will hold fast on their commitment to vote against all procedural motions on HCR. And second, Stupak will insist (in a funny coalition with the House liberals, perhaps) that the "self-executing" House bill not treat the Senate bill as passed until the Senate accepts the entire House reconciliation package.

    So where this leaves us is that either Stupak will have to fold or the Senate will have to ignore the Parliamentarian. Or, we get no bill (still quite possible).

    I do not think we will get a bill. (none / 0) (#6)
    by Buckeye on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:37:20 AM EST
    Even if Stupak is placated, there are many other land mines.

    Who cares anyway.  Whatever passes would be garbage.


    That's not where I am (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:46:28 AM EST
    But that depends on the phase of the moon.

    Personally, I would find it hard to say no to this package, crappy as it is.


    I hope the bill passes (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Coral on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:37:47 PM EST
    Just in our personal circumstances, and in the circumstances of close friends, even the very poor Senate bill would be a tremendous help.

    The public option has been a point on which I previously thought I would draw the line, and I'm still extremely disappointed with Obama for conceding on that almost pre-emptively. But people who are without insurance now really need the help the bill offers, as do those who would be dropped by their insurers.

    I hate the bill, but hate what not passing it now would mean--for the uninsured, for those who may lose employer-provided insurance in the near future, and for the Democratic Party and Obama.

    The GOP with victory of killing health reform under their belt will become even more viral, even more vicious. They must be defeated in their obstructionism.


    Republican obstructionism (5.00 / 6) (#17)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:38:55 PM EST
    has not remotely been the issue in passing the bill.

    what an absurd (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:40:01 PM EST

    There was never going to be (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:46:19 PM EST
    a single GOP vote in the Senate for the HCR bill.
    All this talk about bipartisanship has been a sham.
    The question voters should have is: why are the Democrats pretending they can make deals with Republicans on HCR?

    for someone (none / 0) (#26)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:47:16 PM EST
    who thinks they think in political terms you really dont seem to understand politics that well.

    That's a step up from your (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:50:14 PM EST
    rah rah "you're a traitor" comments from yesterday, but only a small one.
    Look, all this kabuki about bipartisanship made passing a bill MUCH harder, and predictably so.
    You should ask why the White House said so many times they needed 1 GOP vote in the Senate.
    Hint: it wasn't to help pass a bill that Democrats would be happy with.

    So, you think that all that time spent (5.00 / 5) (#39)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:07:54 PM EST
    bargaining with Grassley, Snowe and whomever else on the GOP side who wanted TV airtime was productive?

    I think BTD is absolutely spot on in his analysis here.  Clearly, the Democrats have widely divergent interests that seemingly were ignored through much of this process.  I would have thought that leadership might have figured out a core plan that would appeal to a broad majority of the caucus at the start of this process.  But that's been the problem with this entire legislative strategy from the start.

    The were open to "all ideas", but they really were not; and more problematical for them in the end, they didn't seem to find the formula of the combination of very appealing ideas to offset the unpalatable aspects of the bill.

    Of course, if your only guideline is to "pass something" you're more likely to end up with the lowest common denominator in terms of quality - hence the generally low enthusiasm about the meat of the bill from all camps.


    Throughout most of the time that (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by MO Blue on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:50:02 PM EST
    this has been on the table, the Dems had 60 seats in the Senate and a super majority in the House. They could have passed a bill at any time during that period and had it signed into law without one Republican voting for it.

    If it does become law, it will be passed without any Republicans voting for the final product. The Republicans were irrelevant then and now.


    they were not irrelevant (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:53:44 PM EST
    they have used and will continue to use every delaying tactic they can lay their grubby little hands on.

    if not for their obstruction it would have passed last summer.


    Health care legislation did not clear (5.00 / 6) (#35)
    by MO Blue on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:03:39 PM EST
    the Senate Finance Committee until October 13, 2009. That committee had enough Dems to pass the bill out of committee in the summer but chose not to do so. Dems held up the vote while they negotiated with themselves, kissed Snowe's ring, and received approval of K street prior to even submitting it to the WH. Democratic choices.

    The House was ready in June. (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:10:15 PM EST
    Baucus was not a friend to healthcare reform and yet he is Obama's friend.  Shaking head.

    I look forward to reading the staff and officials memoirs on this backstory.


    yeah (none / 0) (#44)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:11:27 PM EST
    I actually consider Baucus a republican.

    And yet he was Obama's pick. (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:11:59 PM EST
    whats your (none / 0) (#47)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:12:37 PM EST

    It leaves one wondering how (5.00 / 7) (#50)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:20:31 PM EST
    much Obama really cares about healthcare reform.

    Not for nothing, McCaskill - another Obama surrogate - was out en force in August actually arguing against the public option concept - talking about big government and government take over of healthcare etc.

    I think the big time bloggers missed their mark too, actually.  The battle was on the inside of the party.  The Republicans were a sideshow of little or no importance.  


    of course (none / 0) (#53)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:23:21 PM EST
    Obama is lukewarm at best and of couse the republicans were "a sideshow of little or no importance."

    that doesnt mean they were irrelevant in the past or will be in the future.  there were and are plenty of ways they can gum up the works.



    Well, if 2010 shapes up to be (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:34:56 PM EST
    the loss that it could for Democrats, those Republicans sure will be very relevant.

    Then Obama will learn what it is really like to try to crank out bipartisan legislation.  Or he should go on an extended vacation - which might make the most sense given the fact that the GOP will only become more bold about obstructing now that the Dems have shown themselves to be the pushovers that they are - again.


    I have wondered if (none / 0) (#64)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:40:40 PM EST
    he has not considered the possibility of looking like an important bulwark against the republican hordes if the dems lost the senate.

    in other words, he might not mind that much.


    He's got people around him who (none / 0) (#68)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:52:26 PM EST
    are telling him not to worry too much about it because they went through it with Clinton, probably.  But, like Clinton before him, it will make him worry when it really is happening.  And this group of pure as the driven snow ideological Republicans are much tougher as a voting bloc than the crowd back in Clinton's day was - which is saying something.

    indeed (none / 0) (#74)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:57:55 PM EST
    You can consider him a Republican all you want (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by cawaltz on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:15:04 PM EST
    he still has a D after his name and so the party machinery will go out of their way to get him re elected. It's rather ironci to be sending out an email chronicling obstructionism from the other side when it's people like Baucus on your own side that are the problem. And yet the party mechanism continues to provide financial support for his re election.

    Republicans had absolutely (5.00 / 7) (#49)
    by itscookin on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:20:17 PM EST
    nothing to do with obstruction. Until Masschusetts sent Scott Brown to the senate, they were impotent to stop ANY healthcare reform bill that the Democrats wanted. Medicare for all, pets covered, tummy tucks and tattoos if they had wanted to pass it. Democrats were unable to agree with each other and were looking for the political cover of bi-partisanship in case the program they pass turns out to be unpopular with the public in the future. I don't mind the party cheerleading that goes on when there's a little honesty about its being cheerleading, but don't blame the other team when your quarterback passes the ball in the wrong direction.

    While Republicans did (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by cal1942 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:49:53 PM EST
    fool around in committee it should be remembered that the gavel, in all cases, was held by a Democrat.

    HAHAH.. thanks again for a belly (3.66 / 3) (#33)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:59:22 PM EST

    What's funny is that you pick (5.00 / 3) (#37)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    the one fact which was NOT under the Democrats' control, and blame that, instead of looking at the various steps Dems took which slowed down the process.
    1. Putting Baucus in charge of writing the Senate bill
    2. Declaring over and over that the bill needed at least one GOP vote in the Senate.
    3. Obama's detachment from the process.

    And so on.

    And you say I'm politically naive.


    still think no bill (none / 0) (#42)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:08:59 PM EST
    will pass?

    I don't know. I said I'm skeptical (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:11:29 PM EST
    Suppose a bill does pass, then it pretty much proves my point that Republicans were irrelevant, doesn't it?
    Seems like lose-lose for you.

    Yup. (none / 0) (#58)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:29:34 PM EST
    Mitch McConnell would not be minority leader if the filibuster was the only obstruction tactic he knew. Dems better be taking notes.

    Not one for keyboard-to-keyboard combat, (none / 0) (#51)
    by KeysDan on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:22:28 PM EST
    but at this point,"passing the bill" is in Democratic hands, not Republican.  We have a bill passed by the Democatic- controlled House, and a bill passed by the  Democratic senate with 60 votes.  If the Democratic House adopted the Senate bill, a final bill would be on the desk of a Democratic president pronto.

    Equally, it's in the hands of the (none / 0) (#55)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:24:12 PM EST
    Senate with 51 votes, using reconciliation.
    At this point it should be obvious that many individual members of Congress would rather see the bill fail than pass.

    I wouldn't put it that way (none / 0) (#52)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:22:50 PM EST
    It is the very fact of their monolithic obstruction that made it necessary for Dems to negotiate with eachother, instead of with the Republicans, thus giving Dems sole possession of the ugly sausage factory and its political fallout.

    Just because they strategically took themselves out of the negotiation (after they made sure Dems  bipartisanly passed over 100 of their amendments, weakening the bill in the eyes of many) does not mean they had no impact on the bill.


    exactly (none / 0) (#54)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:23:56 PM EST
    Wait, so are you saying that (none / 0) (#57)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:27:14 PM EST
    if Republicans had been willing to negotiate in good faith, we could have ended up with a bill that was better on policy than the current one?  I find that hard to believe.  What would have been better?

    For one thing (none / 0) (#60)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:37:09 PM EST
    just off the top of my head, I'm open to being able to buy insurance across state lines if minimum federal standards are present. I can see where that might help bring down costs. If there were good faith efforts perhaps that could have been worked out.

    More importantly, a good faith bipartisan bill lessens the impact of the bill as a political football in the fall. I don't think the best legislation is achieved with everyone running scared. I'm with Obama on the benefits of bipartisanship. Unlike him though, I know it is not achievable with the current crop of Republicans.


    I dont think he (none / 0) (#63)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:38:56 PM EST
    thinks so either.  do you really?
    this whole bipartisan thing has been theater.

    Hard to tell (none / 0) (#66)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:42:52 PM EST
    He seemed pretty convinced in 'The Audacity of Hope' and after. Maybe he's that good an actor.

    I hope he does not still believe it anyway.


    Well, in a theoretical world (none / 0) (#65)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:41:48 PM EST
    I can see why being able to buy insurance across state lines if minimum federal standards are present might be ok, but Republicans even in their more saner moments would never agree to requisite minimum federal standards, IMO. I'd be curious if you had any other specific thoughts on how a bill with more Republican support would have been better policy.

    A bill is largely a political football when the policy is a bad one.  Negotiating with the republicans so that the bill could have been even further center-right than the one that Democrats made all on their own wouldn't, IMO at least, have been good policy.


    When I hear about selling insurance (5.00 / 6) (#79)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:23:57 PM EST
    across state lines, I think about when credit card companies all moved to states with the least regulation so they could gouge at will; unless there is something that would prohibit insurance companies from setting up shop in states with little or no minimum standards for coverage, or establishes a uniform standard for all policies no matter what state they were issued from, I see the cross-selling of insurance as a potentially very bad thing.

    The Senate bill, and Obama's proposal, already contain numerous Republican ideas, none of which improved the chances Republicans would vote for it, but nonetheless managed to make the bill worse from both a Democratic perspective and from an actual reform perspective.  For the life of me, I do not understand why it wasn't obvious what the Republicans were doing: taking advantage of Obama's obsessive need to be liked and managing to get more of what they wanted in a bill that might end up passing without their ever having to vote in favor of it.

    The biggest problem, as I see it, is that those largely responsible for what is on the table were never really focused on what would be the best policy for the American people, the best policy to pull us out of this upside-down situation where the more we pay for health insurance, the less care we can get and the less affordable it is, the best policy for exerting some meaningful control over the insurance companies.  No, they wanted their cake and eat it, too - wanted to look like heroes, while still protecting the free flow of industry cash into campaign coffers, and keeping open the revolving door that allowed those who treated the industry well to be later rewarded with extremely lucrative positions in that industry.  Now, there's a bipartisan effort for you, huh?

    Finally, at some point people have to accept that what is on the table is what Obama wanted all along; forget what he says and look at what he does.  Striving for bipartisanship is a pretty good way to get the conservative policies you want without looking like you betrayed your own party - unless we can all see that's what is happening and call BS on it loud and long.

    They may not hear us now, but they will hear - and should fear - us in November.

    I have my "Too Liberal For Obama" t-shirt; do you have yours?


    It's a worse political football (none / 0) (#67)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:50:46 PM EST
    when it is portrayed as being even worse than it may be by a side that has nothing to lose by making it seem as bad as possible.

    Why would necessarily be that the bill would have moved more to the right? Perhaps some of the Republicans, in good faith, acting for the good of the people, would have been persuaded of the efficacy of some of the Dem ideas. I mean, some of them have to be good ideas.


    No, none of them (5.00 / 2) (#97)
    by cal1942 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:27:23 PM EST
    The idea from day 1 was to obstruct, to give no support whatsoever to any Democratic initiatives.

    Understanding where Republicans are coming from is important.

    Democrats foolishly conceded without any dialogue from the other caucus.

    So a not so good bill results and people who actually vote probably will not like what they see or perceive.

    Obama's bi-partisan stuff was the all-time dumb move. His bi-partisan shtick has been the eqiuivalent of self-destruction.

    If Republicans weren't going to cooperate no matter what; Democrats would have been better advised to put together truly meaningful reform, reform that the public would have found desireable.  In that scenario obstinate resistence would have been catastrophic for Republicans and any Democrats who opposed.

    Democrats, especially the leadership, should have understood what so many outside Washington understood; that Republicans weren't going to go along with anything.

    Anyway, Democrats, the White House actually, had everything backwards.  They should have made an all out, no holds barred effort to create jobs, by any and all possible means, first.  Win favor by getting people back to work, THEN make truly meaningful health care reform.  It's a damn sight easier to get acceptance for your significant ideas for reform with a record of previous success in hand.  It's all been so lamentable.

    Priority one, job one.  

    It's the economy stupid.


    It's the Economy Stupid! Exactly right! (none / 0) (#130)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:25:43 PM EST
    Now we're in a terrible bind.  We've wasted a year on a bill that the majority of Americans do not want passed.  Americans on the left, right, and center hate this bill.  Meanwhile voters see the democrats as ignoring their biggest worry and concern, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.  It makes them look totally out of touch.  They're going to ram through a bill that Americans don't want, after wasting a year on it, and while having ignored the thing that Americans care about the most.  

    On the other hand, if they fail to pass anything, then they've wasted a year on nothing.  Which is better?  Passing a bill that the majority don't want, or throwing in the towel and concede that they have wasted a year because Obama wants his legacy on health care?  Meanwhile Democrats lose big in November because of it.  Reid is likely to lose his job because of the economy and his focus on HCR over jobs for the people in his state!  Why has he made such a sacrifice for Obama?  Why are he and Pelosi so willing to let so many fellow democrats lose their jobs for Obama?  

    Is Obama's legacy more important than what Americans need and want, focus on the economy?  So it would appear.  He appears clueless.  He just wants what he wants.  The hell with what the people need and want.  The hell with democrats running for re-election in November.  How did smart pols like Pelosi and Reid get caught up in this insane, self defeating, mess?  


    and I know I am talking about a dream world (none / 0) (#70)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:54:02 PM EST
    with good faith Republicans. Hard to even know what that looks like anymore. I can't keep up the mental exercise.

    The bill would have moved (none / 0) (#71)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:55:46 PM EST
    to the right because the Republican party, at least in theory, is to the right of the Democratic party.  Granted, the Democratic party on the national level, as viewed through the prism of the current healthcare bill, which is entirely the product of the Democratic party, doesn't stray far from the Republican party platform anymore, but I still see no reason for thinking that having more Republican involvement in the bill would have made for policy that would have been any further to the left than the bill is now.

    Anything in the bill that says (none / 0) (#73)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:57:33 PM EST
    medical clinics and doctors MUST accept all insurance plans? If they can deny service now to Medicare patients, they can restrict their practices to only accepting insurance plans that are local. Every single plan the medical profession deals with comes with negotiated rates and red tape processing. I'm thinking they will draw the line on just how many contracts they want to keep track of.

    maybe you should (none / 0) (#76)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:59:08 PM EST
    write a letter or something.  and explain it to them.

    Huh? What bipartisanship? (none / 0) (#129)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:06:27 PM EST
    Didn't the republicans support buying insurance across state lines?  Didn't Obama dismiss that right away?  Wasn't tort reform also a republican idea that was dismissed?  I'm not sure where any republican ideas were adopted.  If there was never going to be any bipartisanship, why did Obama waste so much time pretending otherwise?  Why didn't he just use the 60 votes and get the darn thing passed?

    Dems were always ever going to (none / 0) (#62)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:38:34 PM EST
    have to negotiate with themselves. 51, 55, 60, 70 votes in the Senate - doesn't matter what the number is - they have to come to concensus amongst the caucus to move forward.  I assumed that was happening behind the scenes.  Turns out they really were focused on people like Grassley and Snowe almost exclusively there for a while.  Harry Reid admitted as much when he said that they'd spent too much time on Snowe.  Talk about not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time.  Shaking head.

    I know (none / 0) (#92)
    by cawaltz on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:11:50 PM EST
    Since when has Stupak become a Republican right? Or for that matter recalcitant Dems in the Senate who don't want to pass a fix it measure? I got a fundraising email to the effect of Republican obstructionism in health care and about died laughing. Last I heard the holdouts that are preventing majority passage of the bill are from our own party........

    It's hard to argue Republican obstructionism and be taken seriously when you have decisive majorities in both the Senate and House. The Democratic majority in the Senate is holding up the health bill by balking at passing a fix it measure and Stupak and his coalition of coathanger Dems in the House. That ain't a Republican obstruction problem....it's a Dem one.


    how would (none / 0) (#93)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:13:15 PM EST
    you explain the other 290 bills the republicans have managed to obstruct?

    GMAFB (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by BTAL on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:33:40 PM EST
    Who in the Senate determines when bills come to the floor?

    Hint: None have an (R) after their name.


    Im sure you are right (none / 0) (#100)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:40:14 PM EST
    Im sure the democrats have just let those 290 bills gather dust because they are not interested.



    I think the word you are looking for is (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:45:58 PM EST
    "incompetent," with "negligent" running a close second.

    The time for excuses passed a long time ago, and there is absolutely nothing to be gained by playing a co-dependent role that allows them to keep getting away with this crap.


    The Republicans can make it very (none / 0) (#112)
    by MKS on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:55:20 PM EST
    difficult to get a bill to the floor by slowing everything down....

      That has always been their strategy and the Democrats were slow to catch on....


    When you have 60 votes in the (5.00 / 3) (#99)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:38:02 PM EST
    Senate, it's up to the leadership to exert enough discipline to make sure that when bills are voted out of committee, there are enough votes to end debate, so there is at least a vote on their own damn bills.

    You can point the blame at the Republicans all you want, but it just doesn't fly; if it did, the Democrats, when they were in the minority, should have had the same ability and the same success obstructing the Bush agenda, but somehow, the Republicans almost always got their way.

    The party in power doesn't seem to understand how to wield it, how to leverage it or how to make it work for them - and that is what people will be taking away from this session, not that the mean Republicans refused to play along.


    Stop being mean Anne (none / 0) (#102)
    by cawaltz on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:43:43 PM EST
    You'll make the Democrats in Congress cry. ;)

    I'm still waiting for someone from our coalition to suggest they practice their "obstructionism" from the basement like Bush required of the Democrats that didn't want to go along to get along.


    True, but with 60 Democrats (none / 0) (#113)
    by MKS on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:56:51 PM EST
    you have to thread the needle every time without Republicans.

    The push for reconciliation should have been done last August....


    If they had 100 Democrats (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:09:55 AM EST
    They still would be whining about how they couldn't get it done.  

    Why are excuses still being made?


    W're not talking about the other 290 bills (none / 0) (#95)
    by cawaltz on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:18:45 PM EST
    we're talking about THIS bill. It isn't the Republicans who have stood in the way of passage, it's been Democrats. Right leaning democrats, but democrats none the less.

    actually (none / 0) (#96)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:20:59 PM EST
    I was talking about all 291

    You mean 290 (none / 0) (#101)
    by cawaltz on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:40:34 PM EST
    because THIS bill would be 291 and THIS bill had absolutely nothing to do with Republican obstructionism preventing it's passage. There were 60 votes in the Senate and 255 seats in the House. The Democrats still have 59 seats in the Senate and 253 members in the House. Well within the margins to make the Republicans irrelvant via reconciliation.

    Im with you (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:40:55 PM EST
    I personally know a few dozen people who would benefit from this bill it a big way.

    Anthem Blue Cross just (none / 0) (#114)
    by MKS on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:58:58 PM EST
    gouged me today. Our premiums just went up over 100%.

    Sen Gillibrand (none / 0) (#24)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:43:03 PM EST
    Agreed (none / 0) (#120)
    by CoralGables on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:00:32 AM EST
    and I suspect it will be finalized and signed before the end of the month.

    I would get really drunk (none / 0) (#13)
    by Faust on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:21:40 PM EST
    vote for it, and then hate myself the next morning.

    Heh (none / 0) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:39:58 PM EST
    I would get really drunk, vote against it, and then hate myself in the morning.

    lol (none / 0) (#22)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:42:18 PM EST
    Sounds like a formula for a big drinking problem..

    I would just be honest (none / 0) (#23)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:42:45 PM EST
    The monumental pronouncements being made about how it's going to transform access to healthcare in America are probably wrong. I think it will probably get some more poor people covered, reduce the likelihood of medical bankruptcy, and make it easier for the newly uninsured (recent college grads and the unemployed) to get insurance that will cover preexisting conditions. I don't think it will do any of those things well, but it will probably be better than before.

    And, with the exception of some poor people, (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:54:17 PM EST
    the quality of everyone else's health care coverage will go down, while the costs will continue to go up.

    Other than the increase in subsidies in medicare (which arguably may never really go into effect as costs rise and it becomes impossible for the increases to keep up with cost of living, etc.), the bill generally do harm rather than good.


    oops..meant increase to (none / 0) (#31)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:57:46 PM EST
    subsidies in medicaid, of course.  Medicare is on its way out, right?  

    That does not sound very different (none / 0) (#32)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:58:41 PM EST
    from what happens if the bill doesn't pass.

    That's not a big risk IMO.

    There's more potential upside than downside.


    I consider the main downsides (5.00 / 5) (#34)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:03:34 PM EST
    to be the implementation of the mandate, the excise tax and the official Democratic party stamp of approval on anti-choice legislation.  I guess my balancing of the upsides and downsides comes out differently than yours.

    The mandate is a somewhat regressive (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:06:27 PM EST
    tax increase. Not wonderful policy, but not the end of the world. The excise tax probably won't work, and in any case it's set to be gutted. The abortion stuff is bad, but IMO an insufficient reason to oppose the plan (just as Hyde is an insufficient reason to oppose Medicaid).

    The mandate is essential. (none / 0) (#40)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:07:57 PM EST
    Once it's in place, then a public option or Medicare buy/in can be enabled.
    The downside of the mandate, as it exists now, is in giving people no choice except to buy from private insurance companies. That's a huge flaw, in policy and politics.

    Exactly. The actual mandate in (5.00 / 4) (#48)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:13:16 PM EST
    the bill is a mandate to support the wildly predatory and ineffecient for-profit insurance system we have now, with no actual value for the people.  It will, IMO, be much more difficult to create a more efficient and moral health care system once this one sided mandate is in place.  It will become an additional barrier to real reform.

    And the excise tax is not being "gutted".  It may be pared down slightly enough to avoid full-on opposition by union leaders (I don't blame them, they're just doing their jobs), but it will cause tons of employers to switch to lower quality health insurance (at higher value to their employees).


    Yup -the shakedown, using government muscle. (none / 0) (#110)
    by jawbone on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:47:06 PM EST
    Do you really believe this? (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by cawaltz on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:45:24 PM EST
    We can't even get a Medicare buy in NOW and you somehow seem to believe that somewhere down the line it will be implemented. Here I was thinking I was an optimist......you got me beat. Even I am not that optimistic.

    No, actually I don't believe this. (none / 0) (#111)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:54:08 PM EST
    But I do think a mandate is essential.

    Question (none / 0) (#80)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:32:09 PM EST
    I keep hearing about forcing insurers to cover pre existing conditions but I haven't heard anything about putting a cap on what they can charge you for this. Is there anything in the bill to cover this?

    I don't know about that - it's one of (none / 0) (#81)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:35:54 PM EST
    many questions I still have that I don't think have been answered.  I also want to know - but no answer on this either - why so many of these reforms will apply only to new plans, and whether, if you already have a plan and want these reforms, you will have to reapply and be subject to higher costs.

    Inquiring minds...


    I 'think' it's 30% (none / 0) (#82)
    by nycstray on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:40:21 PM EST
    Would the Senate doublecross the House (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kmblue on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:16:05 PM EST
    (and the American people?)

    Heck yeah.  Would Obama?  You betcha.

    Howard Dean yesterday (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:22:55 PM EST
    on the likely hood of a doublecross

    and restating his support for the bill.

    Latest Whip Count: 189 Yes, 202 No (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:28:03 PM EST
    per FDL News Desk:

    That looks like a major departure from my last whip count [191 Yes, 195 No]. That's because there's been a major development. House leaders have given up on trying to please Bart Stupak and will try to pass a bill without him and his bloc:
    House leaders have concluded they cannot change a divisive abortion provision in President Barack Obama's health care bill and will try to pass the sweeping legislation without the support of ardent anti-abortion Democrats [...]

    Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the leadership will press ahead without reworking the abortion provision, which opponents say falls short in restricting taxpayer dollars for abortion coverage. He predicted some of the anti-abortion lawmakers in the party will end up voting for the overhaul anyway.

    House leaders had no choice, really. The reconciliation strategy made it basically impossible to change the abortion language in this go-round; Senate Republicans made it very clear that they would vote against any effort to waive the point of order with respect to abortion; and Stupak rejected a third bill because he didn't trust the House or Senate to actually follow through.

    More detail at the FDL link.

    "House leaders (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:36:28 PM EST
    have given up on trying to please Bart Stupak"

    no one could have predicted that, ay?


    one of the highlights (none / 0) (#88)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:24:53 PM EST
    of the Maddow Moore interview last night, he is represented my Mr. Stupak, was the explanation of a "Stupak dozen" which has apparently been a saying around his district for a while.

    its 4.


    The next step (none / 0) (#86)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:47:19 PM EST
    is to hack away at the subsidies.

    "Ardent anti-abortion Democrats" (none / 0) (#109)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:30:38 PM EST
    is the problem right there.  This is not a party with a core set of principles anymore.  This is just a bunch of power-grabbers, and p*ss poor ones at that; they grabbed for it, they got it, they can't even figure out how to use it -- so they abuse it and give it away.  And whine, too.  Ugh.

    Statements like that make it oh-so-clear.  I have no use for anyone who is a Democrat, as they are enabling these ardent anti-choicers.  Lines drawn.


    Slightly OT (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:31:47 PM EST
    (Reuters) - Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid formally notified Republicans on Thursday that he will attempt to pass the final changes to a healthcare overhaul through the budget process of reconciliation.

    link via rawstory

    heh (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:33:00 PM EST
    its on

    Rep Grayson has petition in support of Medicare (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by jawbone on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 07:13:32 PM EST
    Buy-In he's brought up recently.

    Hipparchia has a post on it and a request to vote up Medicare (Improved!) for All* (the PNHP plan) to the top of the health  Things to Do list to be presented to Obama Change.org site.

    Oh, having that right on top would so sweet....

    Oh,  Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism requests votes for Medicare for All AND:

    The other one on the list I am keen about is "Move to Amend: Constitutional Rights for People, Not for Corporations - Abolish Corporate Personhood". Vote here.

    *It's listed as Improved Medicare for All.

    Who's going to complain? Pelosi? (none / 0) (#2)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:19:01 AM EST
    If the House passes the Senate bill, the villagers and the White House will say that it's time to move on---guaranteed.

    The real question is (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:09:56 PM EST
    Would Obama back up the House? He could easily promise a veto of the Senate bill if it comes without the sidecar reconciliation.  But he won't.

    Good point. I never even considered (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:19:41 PM EST
    a threat of a veto from Obama.
    You forget that the Presidency is a weak office, and the President powerless to influence legislation.

    That's right, I did forget that (none / 0) (#14)
    by ruffian on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:21:58 PM EST
    Never mind ;-)

    Obama's silence, on this and other (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:42:11 PM EST
    aspects of the health reform effort, speaks volumes, and is a much better indicator - to me - of where he really is on these things, much more so than anything he actually says, because what he actually says is so variable, day to day, interest group to interest group.

    I can't be the only one who thinks he would prefer that the House just pass the Senate bill - period - and quit trying to make it "better."

    It's like WWTSBQ all over again, only this time the SB is Pelosi.


    According to mcjoan (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:22:30 AM EST
    the Senate Dems acknowledge (Schumer, anyway) "the reality that the bill as it stands now--with the Nebraska deal et al.--won't cut it, and [that] . . .the House has good reason to be distrustful of the Senate"

    Contra the beltway bloggers, I guess.


    I dont' think a bill will pass, at this point, (none / 0) (#4)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:25:03 AM EST
    because I don't see any realistic negotiations going on.

    That's a clear possibility (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:26:06 AM EST
    maybe you are not looking (none / 0) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:41:16 AM EST
    Adding the student lending (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by observed on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 11:51:55 AM EST
    proposal to the reconciliation doesn't sound like serious negotiation to me. It sounds like giving the Senate another reason to say no.

    Yes it is a bluff (none / 0) (#36)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:05:06 PM EST
    But their latest tactic is so obvious I wonder how it could possibly work. Republicans are warning Democrats that passing health care reform will make them less popular. They are alerting the House that Senators will betray any deal they make. And they are insisting that reconciliation will be a bloody, protracted fight, even signing a letter promising to invoke the "Byrd Rule" to strike out any non-budgetary measures from a reconciliation bill.

    Clearly, this is mostly a bluff.

    And a very good one.

    A bluff is merely an act to get someone to do what you want them to do based on their belief of what will happen if they take a certain act.

    of course its a bluff (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:08:07 PM EST
    honest republicans (well maybe not honest but not elected ones like Kristol) have admitted for months that the reason they dont want it to pass is that they know people will like it.

    What is there to like about (none / 0) (#56)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:25:48 PM EST
    the bill?

    Frankly I don't see anything but more money to insurance companies and fewer services from Medicare.


    tax cuts (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:37:30 PM EST
    for small businesses no doughnut hole for seniors coverage for older children some other stuff.

    I would ask the question I have asked before, if republicans really thought people would hate this bill do you honestly think they would be doing everything in their power to stop it?


    Yup (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:58:28 PM EST
    The opposition is a show.  They knew they never had any power of the end product.  So, they act at the time like this is the most horrible bill ever, and then, when everyone sees that it is a quite bad bill (because it is essentially a bill that Republicans would have passed) then they can talk about how they opposed it all along.



    Im sure that (none / 0) (#77)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:01:15 PM EST
    must be brilliant.  it sounds like a republican strategy I suppose.

    Those are the fumes (none / 0) (#78)
    by dk on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 02:05:06 PM EST
    they've been running on for years.  And often, it seems to work pretty well for them, unfortunately.

    I know (none / 0) (#105)
    by cawaltz on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:48:12 PM EST
    It's bizaro world to hear the people who touted their Vice Presedential Bozo as saying "deficits don't matter" toall of a sudden be hyper concerned about cost.

    There is no shortage of hypocrisy or kabuki in Congress from either sie, that's for sure.


    The polls (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 03:29:49 PM EST
    say that people don't want this plan so it's a winner for the GOP to be against it. I mean, if it was so great why did Scott Brown win running against it in a blue state?

    If Democrats think the voters love it (2.00 / 0) (#69)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:53:32 PM EST
    why can't you accept that Repubs think they will hate it?

    And you ignore the kill shot it gives Medicare.


    the logic of that escapes me (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 01:57:11 PM EST
    and you should really stop listening to FOX.
    it will not kill Medicare.

    I see that you (2.00 / 0) (#118)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 10:17:53 PM EST
    think that taking $500 billion out of a program will not harm it.

    Perhaps you can explain the logic in that.


    sure thing (5.00 / 0) (#124)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 09:34:59 AM EST
    "None Of The 'Savings' Or 'Cuts' (Whichever You Prefer) Come From Reducing Current Or Future Benefit Levels For Seniors." According to FactCheck.org, "The House bill would trim projected increases in payments for hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and others, including home health care providers and suppliers of motor-driven wheelchairs. But it also proposes what CBO estimates is a $245 billion increase in spending for doctors, by canceling a scheduled 21 percent cut in physician payments. None of the 'savings' or 'cuts' (whichever you prefer) come from reducing current or future benefit levels for seniors." [FactCheck.org, accessed 9/9/09]

    now (5.00 / 0) (#125)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:14:12 AM EST
    wasnt that easy?

    Do you think that makes sense? (none / 0) (#132)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 11:29:47 PM EST
    The Senate parliamentarian has ruled (none / 0) (#87)
    by BTAL on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 04:04:20 PM EST
    From thehill.com

    So how much does the house REALLY trust the Senate and WH?  Methinks not enough.

    The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign the healthcare reform bill before Democrats can use special budget rules to pass changes demanded by the House.


    "It's just going to require a little more trust from the House that the Senate is going to do its job," said a Democratic strategist.


    "The Senate Parliamentarian's office has informed Senate Republicans that reconciliation instructions require the measure to make changes in law," said a senior GOP aide.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/86297-senate-parliamentarian-raises-the-bar-for-passing-healthcar e-reform

    This is a perfectly good reason (none / 0) (#106)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 05:49:45 PM EST
    for Harry Reid to fire him. Unless, of course, The Senate Dems are more interested in their institution than their party.

    Reid can't fire him due to (none / 0) (#107)
    by BTAL on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:04:38 PM EST
    the entire public perception the Dems have created or allowed to be created on how this has been handled.

    Firing the Parliamentarian at this stage of the game is playing with fire and gasoline.


    Can't argue with that (none / 0) (#108)
    by andgarden on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 06:09:47 PM EST
    The Dems are entirely too willing to accept institutional impediments that are under their sole control.

    It would be very Nixonian (none / 0) (#119)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 10:20:52 PM EST
    Oh, come on.... (none / 0) (#127)
    by MKS on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 12:08:32 PM EST
    There is no crime here....No firing of the Attorney General to cover up a crime....

    And there are death panels in the legislation....


    Republicans fired the parliamentarian (none / 0) (#128)
    by MKS on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 12:09:13 PM EST
    Was it Nixonian then?

    I don't think that is a ruling (none / 0) (#115)
    by MKS on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 07:03:50 PM EST
    but rather hearsay repeated by Republican staffers of an oral statement by the parliamentarian....

    And you would be incorrect (none / 0) (#121)
    by BTAL on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 07:50:41 AM EST
    Further details from thehill.com

    Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told colleagues about the ruling Thursday afternoon, according to a Democratic source familiar with the meeting.

    No, YOU are incorrect. (none / 0) (#123)
    by IndiDemGirl on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 09:18:05 AM EST
    The parliamentarian...clarified his position to Senate aides, saying that the reconciliation bill could be written in a way that would not require Obama to sign the Senate bill into law before the reconciliation bill is voted on.

    We will see then (none / 0) (#126)
    by BTAL on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:23:35 AM EST
    very shortly.  Even if there is a technical loophole for such an action, the political fallout will be more than many Dems stomach.

    Only if the bill is narrowed (none / 0) (#131)
    by jbindc on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 02:27:39 PM EST
    Roll Call

    Parliamentarian Expands on Health Bill Ruling

    After first signaling to Senate aides that the Senate-passed health care reform bill must be signed into law before Congress acts on companion reconciliation legislation, the Senate Parliamentarian has acknowledged that there are perhaps ways to draft a reconciliation measure that could move first.

    However, it appears that if Democrats choose to pursue reconciliation before the Senate bill is enacted, they likely would have to narrow the scope of the reconciliation bill.

    The Parliamentarian has indicated that attempting to move a comprehensive reconciliation package absent the $875 billion Senate-passed bill becoming law could create challenging procedural hurdles for Senate Democrats to overcome. Reconciliation bills operate under a narrow set of guidelines, and Senate Republicans are vowing to raise procedural objections over any portions of the legislation that they believe break the rules.

    Village Realists Speak (none / 0) (#117)
    by kidneystones on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 09:48:33 PM EST
    Political analysis comes in various flavors. Dem pollsters in the Wapo offer an informed analysis of the win/lose dynamics of the hcr fight and confirm what many here accepted a good long time ago. Losing the hcr fight will be bad for Dems. Winning it will be catastrophic, not just for the Dems, but perhaps for the America ( and, I'm tempted to add for rhetorical effect TEH WORLD!).

    So, yes. We can right off two senior Dem pollsters and their informed, insider analysis if we like. But surely the data points are mounting. Few sane Americans expect jobs to come flying out of Valerie Jarrett's behind, which means lots unemployed, unhappy voters. Factor in the profound unpopularity of the bill as a whole and the whole effort to demonize Dennis and the progressive holdouts for the debacle is clearly misguided and wrong.

    There will be ample time for CYA and finger-pointing after the fact. Those of us in the peanut gallery can continue to throw spitballs and other assorted barbs. Dem 'leaders' better figure out very quickly some ways to get some ideas and some funds to get some people to work.

    Maybe a few of Obama's fat-cat bundlers in California or on Wall St can find a way to make the guy they elected pick up a shovel and put down the microphone.