February 09, 2010
Second Coming of Wyden-Bennett?
Republicans, preparing for Obama's Healthcare Summit, clearly want to avoid looking as foolish as they did when hosting Obama at their House issues summit. "Start over," seems to be the new mantra.
GOP proposals for preconditions before talks just make them look like ridiculous Iranian nuclear negotiators; if Republicans continue on this path, they are playing into Democratic strategies and providing political cover for Democrats to pass healthcare by reconciliation next month.
Democrats look serious, and Republicans look like Ahmadinejad. Any good hawk knows that in that situation, stiff and swift sanctions are justified.
How To Be Serious
Here is a proposal for my newly-minted Republican senator Mr. Brown.
To slow down the Democrats, Republicans need to actually appear serious in a believable way. They can't just say "start over" - they need to offer a starting point at which to start over. Something that has been scored by the CBO. Something that has the atmospherics of leadership and the chance of getting 60 votes.
I think their best hope is to paint Obama as a timid "labor union liberal" because of the way he rejected the promising bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill during his effort to pull together union support to get all 60 Democratic votes. Wyden-Bennett has been scored by the CBO and it is serious. It is a shorter and simpler bill. It deals with underlying costs and structural inefficiencies in the tax code. It extends universal care.
Wyden-Bennett has enough real support on both sides of the aisle - and enough Democratic opposition - that if the Republicans were to re-propose it seriously and in earnest, they might not be laughed out of the room at the Obama Summit.
Instead, they might actually throw the whole process into disarray.
How To Avoid Disarray
Democrats should be ready for the second coming of Wyden-Bennet. Their best counterpunch would be to be prepared to throw out all the hard work they have done over the last six months and prepare enough votes to pass Wyden-Bennett unanimously among Democratic Senators. That move would be a surprise and would force Republicans to reveal that they are actually obstructionist after all.
Or pass it.
Which would be a good thing.Posted by David at February 9, 2010 06:56 AM
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