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Dems Start to Ask, “What Fucking Bipartisanship?”

This is good:

Something fairly interesting happened today. It doesn’t mean we will get a public health insurance option to compete with the insurance industry, but it doesn’t exactly hurt. Apparently some Democrats thought that if they only watered down such a public option to nothing, they would get that vaunted bipartisan support, and everybody could go back to their districts and claim they did something when they in fact would have done nothing. But as those of us who have been observing this have known for some time, these aren’t your father’s Republicans, or your grandfather’s, or any other relative. They are the rump conservative party, openly hostile to using government for any means other than profit-taking, and preferring to tell their constituents “good luck” instead of making any tangible difference to their struggles. And somehow, Democrats just discovered this.

Some Senate Democrats have considered nixing the public option proposal in order to win Republican support for the bill.

Schumer’s role is important because he had been acting as an intermediary between liberal Democrats and moderates who are trying to strike a deal on the issue with Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee. Of the five House and Senate committees working on health care, Finance is the only one that appears to have a chance at reaching a bipartisan agreement.

Schumer said Finance Republicans had rejected several proposals designed to beef up the suggested nonprofit insurance co-ops. These included setting up a national structure for the co-ops, $10 billion in government seed money, power to negotiate payment rates to medical providers nationwide and creation of a presidentially appointed board of directors.

The Democrats tried to basically bury the public option as long as they could get any manner of support for the weak substitute. And the Republicans wouldn’t budge. Like in 1993, their mission is to kill health care reform, period. Why anyone would think that any alternative would be true is beyond me, but Senate Democrats obviously needed to play Tic-Tac-Toe with the computer endlessly until they realized what a strange game it all is, and that “the only winning move is not to play.” Ezra Klein comes to the same conclusion.

Republicans, (Schumer) suggests, are standing lockstep even against efforts to create a private co-op system that could offer an alternative to for-profit insurance. Their concern with the co-op plan is not that the government would be taking over the health-care system. It’s that the current insurance providers would face unexpectedly aggressive competition in the marketplace. Which raises an interesting, and potentially clarifying, question: Are Republicans in this to preserve the healthy functioning of a competitive private market or preserve the profits of the currently dominant insurance companies?

Wonderful to see what they actually mean by “free market,” innit? It’s never been about the supposedly free market: it’s all about letting their business buddies rake in the big bucks, free of the fear that either the government or co-ops will provide actual *gasp* competition. Add to that a heaping helping of Con determination to force Obama to fail no matter how badly that fucks the country, and you can clearly see just how bipartisan Cons are willing to be.


This teachable moment has a value for those outside the system who want to push for a real public option that can use bargaining power to force competition from insurers. Because now, as Matt Yglesias says, there’s no excuse for Democrats to water down their bills in order to “seek bipartisanship” and make them durable. Republicans have revealed themselves. And given budget reconciliation and the imminent fact of 60 votes in the US Senate, Democrats have nobody else to blame. They can talk about political realities but those have essentially been voted out of existence, with respect to Republicans. Whether it’s because of health industry campaign contributions or a desire to limit competition in small, rural states, a desire to get the glory for saving policy from the brink or just an ideological disinclination, individual Senate Democrats will have the collapse of any health care reform on their hands.
And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares […]

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

If you care to paddle some “centrists,” you can go buy some Smack-o-Matic time for cheap here:

Blue America are lining up a similar pressure Campaign for Health Care Choice on Blanche Lincoln, and you can contribute to that cause at this link.

Almost as much fun as the dunking tank at the fair, innit?

As for the Con base, we saw earlier today how the one or two Latinos left in it have gotten alienated by Con hysteria. Digby points out another demographic at risk:

Meanwhile, we have other Republicans declaring war on the seniors. Evidently, they are
all a bunch of whiners who refuse to give up their precious entertainment to pay for their medication. Here’s Mark Steyn filling in for Limbaugh today:

STEYN: We’ve still got to do something to plug this little hole in the donut for the prescription drug plans for seniors. Because, heaven forbid, heaven forbid that these seniors, these seniors should have to choose between prescription drugs and Tony Danza doing South Pacific in dinner theater.

I guess they think this is a big electoral winner, but these gasbags had better watch out or they are going to lose the over 50 demographic just like they lost the under 30 demographic.

A dunking tank and a demolition derby. All we need now is some cotton candy, and we’re set.

Comments

  1. says

    Re: Digby's observation, the Republicans have certainly refined high-level government corruption down to its very essence. The K Street Project was a gigantic kickback scheme, breathtaking in its scope and audacity. I don't think we've had anything quite like it since the anti-corruption laws that went into effect after Teapot Dome. It's pretty clear that their only motivation is to once again be the ones who dole out the pork.Before Mike chimes in, let me just say that I am in no way suggesting that the Democrats aren't corrupt. They are. If they weren't corrupt, we'd have a good health care reform package, and I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. They're amateurs compared to the modern-day GOP, however.

  2. Chris says

    I pretty much agree with everything Cujo said. But as far as Republicans are concerned, sometimes the sheer hypocrisy of their claims (on health care) of "fiscal irresponsibility" almost make my head explode. Here in Georgia, Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss has taken this linerepeatedly, starting with his rejection of an expansion of the SCHIP program back in 8/07. Today however he supports adding 369 million dollars for the funding of 12 more R-22 Raptors which the Pentagon DOES NOT EVEN WANT. I mean, can you picture it: Here's yer planes sir…what planes?…why the Raptors you ordered…hey we didn't order any Raptors…sez here you did, now where do you want us to put 'em?You can read about it in the AJC: http://www.ajc.com/news/content/business/stories/2009/06/24/f22_congress.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstabSorry I don't know how to put links in these comments.