Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said negotiators from the White House, Senate and House reached a final deal on healthcare reform days before Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. …
The bad news: this means that if Democrats had taken this stuff even slightly more seriously, healthcare reform would already be a done deal. Idiots. The good news: if negotiations really were complete, it should mean that creating a reconciliation deal to accompany passage of the existing Senate bill ought to be fairly easy. A few parts would probably have to be jettisoned since they wouldn’t be allowed under reconciliation rules, but that’s life. The vast bulk of the compromise would stay in place and just needs to be turned into legislative language.
Why this isn’t happening is a mystery.
On how the White House is failing to communicate, from Nate Silver:
What can Democrats do differently? Unfortunately, this is not such an easy question to answer. But from the White House’s perspective, the most obvious solution would be to behave more decisively. Don’t let policies like the public option twist in the wind: embrace them, or press forward without them, but either way, remind the House and the Senate that having a 3-month fight about the issue will leave the Democrats as a whole much worse off, regardless of how the dispute is resolved.
It all sounds so simple. The interesting question is, why are Democrats and the White House behaving otherwise? I don’t think the answer is, “Because they’re stupid.” There’s got to be more to it. To Drum I’d say that there is likely conflict in the Caucus and the Administration about whether and when to push health reform. It isn’t yet obvious to everyone that it should happen or it should happen soon. To Silver I’d say that the White House was trying to walk a fine line without knowing precisely on which side of the line the public option would fall. Moreover, they were bending over backwards not to repeat the mistakes of the Clinton approach. They let Congress be Congress. Unfortunately doing that guarantees only one thing, that it will take vastly longer to get a bill than your agenda can gracefully tolerate.