Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clinton's Advice on Health Care: Pass Anything

Taegan Goddard reports on a policy discussion held last night with Bill Clinton.  The topic of health care reform seemed to be the highlight with Clinton predicting Democrats will pass health care, "because they have to."  Clinton thought the hang up on on the public option was foolish and Democrats should pass any bill that increases coverage and reduces costs in order to increase pressure on any future Congress to improve whatever piece of garbage is passed.

Clinton is really only looking out for the prospects for Democrats in the rapidly approaching midterms which according to Sheriff Joe Biden, could spell the end of the Obama agenda.   If Democrats pass health care, particularly the Baucus Bill the repercussions for Democrats are uncertain.  Clinton predicts Obama's poll numbers will increase by 10 points immediately after passing a health care bill.  Furthermore, he predicts his numbers will be up by 20 this time next year when voters see none of the terrible predictions about health care come true.

Should voters be under the mistaken impression that none of the consequences of passing garbage legislation were legitimate, it would only be because they failed to make the case that this or any of the other bills on the floor will be fully implemented until 2013, well after the President has run for re-election.  Passing any health care legislation gives both parties reason to rally voters to the polls.  Republicans can carry a message of undoing the more harmful effects of Baucus/Obama Care while Democrats can rally their base to the polls to protect the gains they've made and possibly promise taking further steps towards universal coverage.

Clinton advises passing any legislation by any means.  Though he prefers going the route of securing 60 votes in the Senate he would absolutely pass it by going nuclear with reconciliation.  The latter will surely secure big GOP gains in 2010, but as Megan McArdle notes any party line vote will likely result in Democrats losing the House.  Americans do not want this massive legislation passed without strong bipartisan support. 

Nevertheless, I agree with McArdle's assessment, health care reform is looking inevitable.  Olympia Snowe seems willing to give the Democrats their 60th vote.  Baucus Care enjoys a tentative CBO seal of approval that is contingent upon Congress making Medicare cuts as written in the bill.  This is not likely, as Director Elmendorf notes himself:
These projections assume that the proposals are enacted and remain unchanged throughout the next two decades, which is often not the case for major legislation.
This could leave a Republican controlled House with the nasty task of making the unpopular cuts Democrats trade away in order to get anything through the House and Senate.  It is entirely possible that negotiations and heavy lifting  still necessary to get health care reform passed will continue to drive opposition to the reform up in the polls to the point that the moderates facing re-election can't stomach giving their vote as the prospect of midterms draws ever nearer.  The pressure will be great, however, within the confines of the DC bubble to follow Clinton's advice.  For those who don't relish the prospect of undoing or making workable lousy legislation, now would be a good time to follow the advice of Samuel Adams:
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds. - Samuel Adams

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