The benefits of Snowe

I was just on the radio talking about the meaning of Senator Snowe’s vote on health care reform, and I think it’s worth a post.

Since I admitted I was wrong about Senator Baucus’ plan, I’ve been trying to rethink whether the administration has been right in their quest for bipartisanship.  Whether or not you agree with President Obama’s agenda, you have to admit that he’s a pretty gifted politician.  I can’t count the number of times I thought, during both the primaries and the general election, that he was doing the wrong thing.  Turns out each time I was wrong, and he was right.

So maybe he was right about this, too.

You see, without Senator Snowe’s support, the administration (and the Senate) would need to negotiate with a handful of Senators, who are often far more conservative than Senator Snowe.  They are not only against the public option, they also seem to be against robust subsidies.  Now, with Senator Snowe’s support, they need to negotiate with only one reasonably moderate Republican.  If they get her support, it seems very unlikely that any Democrats would vote against the bill; certainly they won’t filibuster it.  And, really, the only support they need is to allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote.  They won’t have any trouble passing it.

Moreover, Senator Snowe has been vocal about the need for subsidies large enough to make insurance affordable to the middle class.  Negotiating with Senator Snowe may ironically yield a much more liberal bill than negotiating with Senators Lincoln, Bayh, Landrieu, McCaskill, Pryor, and Nelson.

Did they really think this far ahead?

UPDATE:  Since some you asked, here is a link to the radio interview.

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