The front page of the Huffington Post this morning has exploded with a major headline announcing "The Breaking Point," but Plum Line writer Greg Sargent's paraphrase of Rahm Emanuel says it best: Bipartisanship is Dead.
And not a moment too soon. As the cries of socialism, death panels, and health care increased to an insufferable din, finally, someone at the White House decided to heed my "no bitchassness" mandate and pull the plug on this foolishness posing as public debate.
The New York Times reports:
Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority's cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks.
Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans' purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month's Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.
Rahm Emmanuel, acting in accordance with his usual MO, finally just put the truth out there:
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said the heated opposition was evidence that Republicans had made a political calculation to draw a line against any health care changes, the latest in a string of major administration proposals that Republicans have opposed.
"The Republican leadership," Mr. Emanuel said, "has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama's health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day."
The latest political plot twist reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend G.D. of PostBourgie two nights ago. He made the cardinal mistake of trying to engage me in a political conversation (1) after-hours and (2) after I was three glasses into a bottle of wine.
The ensuing conversation:
G. D.: hey
me: what up
<—-giggling at Entourage
G. D.: your Jez piece on the public option
everyone inthe comment thread is up in arms
and throwing tantrums
and it's like
G. D.: the public option was never going to pass.
people are like oh, no! Obama, you're disappointing me!"
me: lol, well, like I said, no bitchassness
If he was serious about healthcare, he'd be railroading dems, not fucking with repubs
those fuckers are persona non grata for at least 4 years
G. D.: there are only about 37 senators who would go for the public option
i don't think backing off the public option is the White House's failing. it's the Senates.
me: politics ain't about sense or deals it's about [the full court] press
G. D.: he'd need 23 more votes.
me: there aren't that many senators
he could press
but he could
G. D.: but he has been pressing.
he has not yet begun to press
I haven't heard Ari [Rahm Emanuel] say shit
and the Repubs know how to press
G. D.: they've been needling lawmakers on the Hill for months
arm-twisting and glad-handing
the votes aren't there.
me: they [Republicans] have a nobitchassness clause
and it works when you need to do something gritty
G. D.: such as?
me: The Patriot Act
press and figure that shit out later
I'm not saying it's fair or pretty
but shit, we're talking about a legacy
G. D.: right
me: if Healthcare becomes a quagmire, it's better than being some dickless legislation
G. D.: but does the public option have to happen now?
could it not be added in 4 years?
me: I don't see anything on the horizon he's falling on the cross for
so fuck it - full press!
G. D.: could we have
1) an end to rescissions
2) subsidies for the uninsured
3) community standard
4) raising the Medicaid threshold?
me: Obama may not have for more years
especially if that mofo raises taxes [with no results]
that's the GHWB mandate [if you raise taxes when you said you wouldn't, you're a one-term prez]
Medicaid isn't doing dick for us working poor
we need drastic change
G. D.: just the fact that we're going to get all this other stuff would be a dramatic improvement.
me: not really
it only improves for folks who have coverage
or can afford to pay for coverage
if you are working poor
it's still the same deal
if you're poor, poor, you may get covered
G. D.: well
the plan is to raise the ceiling on medicaid
subsidize the working poor who it doesn't cover
me: to what G?
G. D.: that's what they're disagreeing over.
me: do you know how the gov't defines poverty?
G. D.: how much.
yeah, i do.
me: Don't forget - [I have been] on some of these programs of which you speak
there's a big ass gap between when they say you can pay and when you can actually pay
G. D.: but they're talking between 3 -400% of poverty
you subsidize the uninsured
and eliminate the "preexisting conditions" provisions.
so then we fix that.
G. D.: [Then] we push the public option.
but it's not going to pass now.
me: you think that will pass but not the public option?
G. D.: absolutely.
insurance = business
that is bad for business
Repubs in the pocket [of business]
Dems are bullshitting
business will fight this hard as fuck
all these sad eyed kids and seniors [on the current pro-reform commercials] will be replaced with more fear mongering
the way death panels worked, but better
Did you watch Meet the Press on Sunday?
Dickface pulled the play book
G. D.: nope.
me: ain't gonna be no compromises
they want "open competition"
G. D.: who said this?
me: so as long as there's a kaiser [or some other plan], which doesn't disqualify for pre-conditions they'll point to that
G. D.: Armey's not a rep anymore, i thought [Aside: G.D. is right - Armey is a former Rep, just connected]
he's an activist.
me: he's got the playbook
those bastards don't deviate
and there it is
G. D.: It's zero-sum. ANY health care reform would be catastrophic for the GOP
so they are doing the full shut down
even if they are dealing with the cuckoos
G. D.: that doesn't mean we can't get 60+ w/o the public option
me: and if the Dems don't press, shit is not happening
have your dreams Gene.
I just live in this shit town
G. D.: wow @ the condescension.
me: it's true homes
my jadedness comes from watching it
but hey, if you want, I'll even send some white friends to infiltrate tortilla coast [popular hang out for repubs, though that may change]
I'd stand out too much
me: No, it's ok to be realistic
I just think it's time for liberals to sack the fuck up
what is the point of Rahm Emanuel if he's not going to intimidate people?
that's a serious question
that's like hiring the Rock to be on your security team
if there's no people's elbow, what's the point?
G. D.: one sec
i want the public option.
i just don't know how it works this year.
did you read that NYT story on the arm-twisting from two months ago?
me: I'm looking at the photo
that is patient face
not gangsta face
when Rahm looks like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, I'll believe something is happening
G. D.: lol
someone [like Dean] needs to be hollering
the time for rational is over
This is how our country got hijacked the first time
G. D.: i know.
i don't disagree
me: and I refuse to sit by and watch that shit happen when we have a majority
G. D.: but it's not a strong liberal majority
that's the problem.
me: No, it's a strong bitchassness majority
So, G, what do you propose?
Are we supposed to just be patient and lobby?
Because I wish I could say slow and steady wins the race
but it's really crazy and media savvy
G. D.: the pressure needs to be put on, obviously
but it's a legislative failing.
Blanche Lincoln won't go for it. she's hinted that it's a non-starter.
Kent Conrad has been making a funky noise about "government-run" health care.
and these are DEMOCRATS
who sit on the Finance Committee, which is hammering it out.
this is sort of a structural problem
Lincoln is from Arkansas, which has a population a little bigger than Brooklyn.
again, the article YOU referenced
Obama has told Congressional leaders that his top priority is to get a health care bill signed into law this year. But whether that happens will depend, in some part, on whether the members in both chambers feel they can take the new president at his word. Veteran lawmakers know that presidents always arrive with grand plans to spend their political capital, but more often than not they end up cutting deals with their adversaries or retreating altogether. When they do compromise, it's the representatives and senators who stood with them who often end up paying the price with their constituents. Clinton's failure on health care embarrassed Democrats who had agreed to help build support for his plan, just as his proposal to pass a new energy tax the same year - a proposal that passed the House but died in the Senate - left the representatives who voted for it feeling needlessly exposed. When many of them went down to defeat in the midterm massacre of 1994, the lesson that surviving Democrats took away was to beware of presidents who care more about their own survival than they do about yours.
the waffling aka bitchassness is not providing these senators with proof a photo op is forth coming
no photo op, no support
G. D.: that's not the only lesson of '94.
Clinton/HRC were too hands-on.
me: You can't just write shit and drop it off
but no one is saying that
G. D.: right.
me: I'm saying fight for the shit you put out there
it made it [to the floor] in 1000 page form
allegedly made with a coalition
G. D.: Obama's laid out broad parameters
and letting the legislators go wild
me: well, now it's time for him to pull a John Henry
and start hammering shit into place
they have run amok
G. D.: okay.
where do the rest of the votes come from?
me: brute force.
the people's elbow.
Again: Having served under seven commanders in chief during his time in the Senate, Biden understands as well as anyone the pervasive fear in Congress that presidents are out only for themselves. "I've had presidents who say to me, ‘Hey, Joe, get out on that limb for me,' " Biden told me. At this, he rose from his chair and began acting out the metaphor, half-crouching as he glanced at the limb behind him. "And I'm out there. I'm out on that limb. And then you hear this shew shew shew" - he nicely approximated the noise of a saw rasping back and forth - "and you look back, and the limb's being sawed off.
I'm telling you
Flex means a lot in Congress
there is not enough flexing
the troops have no confidence
G. D.: and just like that
Nate Silver rides in to the rescue.
Open Left's Chris Bowers lists 43 senators who as of last Wednesday, he believes based on official communications would vote in favor of a public option. This appears to be the best and most contemporary whip count of its kind.
There are at least two names on Chris's list of yea votes that I'd regard as less than certain: one is Ted Kennedy, who obviously supports the public option but might not be healthy enough to vote on it, and the other is Diane Feinstein, who has indicated that she's open to either a public option or non-profit co-ops — wherein lies the whole debate. But let's give the Democrats credit for these two votes and start counting upward. What's their easiest path to 50?
G. D.: He cites Mary Landrieu, Johnny Isakson, the aforementione Conrad and Ben Nelson.
G. D.: just a quick glance: Louisana, Georgia, North Dakota, Nebraska. All red states
11:46 PM it's not a slam dunk, either way.
but to mix metaphors
G. D.: one is a mid-range jumper in traffic, the other's looking like a Hail Mary
me: The crowd loves an underdog long shot like a Hail Mary
G. D.: of course.
the problem is: the dems aren't the underdogs and the GOP have nothing to lose and are playing the spoiler.
please back away from the metaphor!
dean's website has around 43-45 now.
in favor of the option.
we could get to 50.
Hopefully, G.D. has learned not to engage with me when I'm drinking. And he's absolutely correct - it is important to have the votes. Even if the White House does stop engaging with Republican concern-trolls, there is still a long, hard fight to get all the Dems on board.
I agree with Greg Sargent when he writes:
That said, it's too early to conclude that the White House is now serious about going it alone. It could just be a tough-talking bluff at a time when more liberal opinionmakers are questioning whether Obama and Dem leaders are getting rolled because they're refusing to acknowledge the ever-more-obvious reality about the Republican opposition's intentions.
Yet, I still can't help but be hopeful that the Dems are ready to saddle up in favor of this country. After all, look at what happened when Rep. Barney Frank decided he wasn't engaging with the bullshit conversation blockers:
The crowded hall had both supporters and detractors, but the opposing side was much louder and more raucous, booing the Massachusetts Democrat from the moment he was introduced and shouting questions and challenges at him throughout.
"You want me to talk about it or do you want to yell?" he asked over and over when interrupted while trying to answer. Continued shouting brought a sterner rebuke.
"Disruption never helps your cause," he said more than once. "It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion."
While Frank attempted to respond to all questions, he gave up when one woman compared health care proposals favored by Frank and President Obama to policies of Nazi Germany.
"When you ask me that question, I'm going to revert to my ethnic heritage and ask you a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank asked.
"You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis," he said, adding such behavior demonstrated the strength of First Amendment guarantees of what he called "contemptible" free speech.
"Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table," Frank said to the woman. "I have no interest in doing it."
Cosign. If the Republicans won't play ball and won't come up with a tenable plan that address the needs of both private industry and the 45 million Americans without health care, then we don't need to speak to them.
Well, with anything other than the people's elbow.
Front Page [The Huffington Post]
Rahm Emanuel: Bipartisanship Is Dead [The Plum Line]
Democrats Seem Set To Go It Alone On A Health Care Bill [NY Times]
Related: Blue Cross Praised Employees Who Dropped Sick Policyholders, Lawmaker Says [LA Times]
Taking The Hill [NY Times Magazine]
45 Senators For The Public Option? [The Progressive Electorate]
Beefing Over The Public Option [PostBourgie]
Barney Frank Goes Toe To Toe At Health Care Town Hall [CNN]