Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chait, is the gate "wide open"?

Jonathan Chait has argued since the darkest dog days of August that inexorable political logic will ultimately lead the Democrats to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill. Serial resurrections of the bill have seemed to confirm Chait's perspicuity.  I hope and pray that he's right.  But I fear that at this point he is underestimating the the tenuousness of the effort to get across the goal line. And I fear that the public option boomlet may cause a fumble.

Chait makes it all sound so easy...
Some of us realized all along that there was no rational reason that the Massachusetts election had to kill health care reform. Fundamentally, the main barrier -- getting sixty votes in the Senate -- had already been crossed. The remaining obstacles are puny. All the Democrats needed to do was have the House pass the Senate bill. If they insisted on changes, most of those could easily be made through reconciliation, which only requires a majority vote in the Senate...the legislative door to health care reform is wide open, and Democrats simply need to walk through's fairly easy to just have the House pass the Senate bill, then use reconciliation to eliminate the Nebraska Medicaid subsidy and change the mix of taxes that pay for new coverage.
"Wide open" is quite a stretch. It's far from "fairly easy to just have the House pass the Senate bill."  The House passed its own bill 220-215 in November and has since lost 3 votes - Murtha through death, Wexler through resignation, and Cao through reversal.  That bill only squeezed through because the Stupak Amendment brought 28 blue dogs aboard. Passing the Senate bill means abjuring the Stupak Amendment.  Perhaps the more conservative nature of the Senate bill will add a few more blue dogs -- if the booming movement to include the public option in the reconciliation package doesn't hit critical mass. On the other side of the Hill, no one seems to know whether a negotiated reconciliation patch can capture 51 votes.

The door seems as about as wide open as the eye of a needle for a camel.

Related posts:
The earth beneath their feet: Obama recasts health care reform
Aghanistan redux: Obama's HCR surge
Obama picks "none of the above" again
A gallon of water at bedtime for bedwetters: Obama's HCR prescription
How Obama will -- and won't -- lead on health care


  1. The WH is actively egnaged now, does that not make a difference?

  2. hahaha, great analogy. I'd say the passage is pretty big, then, with so many rich conservative christians sure they will get to heaven.

  3. well, the 220-215 is a bit misleading. We all know that majority leadership will call in votes as needed, but let vulnerable representatives vote against a bill if their votes aren't needed - we simply don't know if Pelosi would have been able to round up 5, 10, or 15 additional Democrat votes if needed.