Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Every Day is Groundhog's Day in Health Care

I was out for much of the day, when I returned to look at the latest news I thought I must have tuned into Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day."  While I was out, Senator Lieberman announced he would join Republicans in a filibuster if the final health care reform includes a government run public option.  Cue the requisite head explosions on the left.  Cue the miraculous polls showing support for a public option that continues to grow  while support for Democratic health care reform falls.  Cue the liberals questioning  Obama's commitment to the public option that everyone loves but he's just not far left enough or something   Cue the calls for Schumer to pass the whole fiasco by reconciliation.  " Do you ever have déjà vu?  Didn't you just ask me that?"

Megan McArdle  ponders the public option "parlous" and concludes it can't pass.  I am trying to remember how many Democrats have said that all along.  McArdle makes the case as clearly as I have seen it why the public option is not only a fiscal fiasco waiting to happen but the political fiasco that would unwind the entire reform.  With a public option the insurers revolt which would ultimately lead to a provider revolt:
Here's the political problem:  if you insert a strong public option, the providers will revolt.

You've already lost the insurers.  Try to reimburse hospitals and doctors at Medicare + 5% for any large segment of the market, and you'll lose them too.  Health care reform is likely to survive the defection of the much-hated health insurance industry.  I doubt there is any way at all that it survives negative ads from coalitions of doctors, hospitals, and other assorted healthcare workers.  I don't see Obama having much success getting on the radio one Saturday morning to complain that doctors are all a bunch of lying obstructionists.
Well, I wouldn't put it past him, but for now Obama knows the reality as surely as anyone, include the public option and he will have a fight on every front.  We could still get there, but for now I have to believe that Obama is looking to keep things quiet on at least a few fronts.  Still, Reid includes the public option debacle in a bill, not exactly a smart move.  Reid is facing a dismal reelection and knows his base is hell bent on health care that includes a government run option.  In essence, Reid put his own reelection concerns ahead of passing a bill by including the public option.  The option would not likely be stripped from the final bill during the amendment process which would make the bill doomed to fail.  Lieberman signals he would filibuster calling on Reid to strip the option before the process begins.  As Allahpundit suggests, Lieberman did Reid a favor here:
Even so, while the left will beat him up for not being able to buy 60 votes via horse-trading, isn’t Reid actually helped a bit by Lieberman taking the lead among the opposition? So deeply do progressives despise Joementum that the storyline here will be his betrayal and obstructionism, not Reid’s idiocy, which is a huge help to Dingy Harry. As scapegoats go, you can’t do better than a guy who lost a primary to a nutroots-supported liberal three years ago and then endorsed John McCain.
All this points to the the reason Obama wanted this done before we headed into the NJ & VA elections and then onto the midterms.  We're a week away from NJ & VA elections, the Dems are running out of Groundhog Days to get this right. 

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