Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nancy's got stones!

Bare knuckle politics

Oh my goodness! What a development!

The US House of Representatives is about to pass its health care bill with a "robust public option" as described by the office of the Speaker. Hats off to Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip James Clyburn for an excellent whip operation! Madam Speaker, I take back almost every word I spoke of you in anger. Almost.

The fact that the submitted bill includes a public option suggests that Pelosi is confident she has the required 218 votes. The question soon will become this: What will happen in the Senate?

There are two possibilities that I can see: 1) Pelosi is gambling that the Senate can pass a bill that includes a public option; 2) She got the word from the Senate Leadership that they can surmount a Republican filibuster and get the bill to the floor of the Senate. I think its the latter.

The Republicans are about to get railroaded. There are already rumors that their own caucus is starting to fracture around the health care issue.

The insurance companies tried to mount a last ditch resistance effort with their bought-and-paid for study, released last week, that warned that health insurance premiums would go up drastically if the Senate Finance Committee's version of the bill were implemented. But President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders defanged them by raising questions about the wisdom of continuing the health insurance exemption from federal anti-trust laws. That's bare knuckle.

If I'm right about all of this (and I could very well be wrong), it is a stark indication that this country's political environment has changed. Karl Rove has called this a "center-right" country, which I always thought was wishful thinking on his part. If a health care bill that includes a public option actually becomes law, it will certainly prove him wrong.

Pundits and politicians have been pronouncing the public option dead-on-arrival since early summer. And yet, here we are, after all the procedural obstacles, tea-bagger hot air, and mulish political prima donnas, on the verge of getting it passed.

Things have changed. Oh yes, they have changed, haven't they?

1 comment:

Dan Binmore said...

Just for a sense of perspective, overwhelmingly private health-care with a small public option that got through against substantial opposition is more right wing than any other industrialized nation. The USA IS a center-right nation, tending towards simply right wing. The center of politics in the world is simply further to the left than even US progressives are used to. Barack Obama is politically rather similar to Margaret Thatcher in his political outlook.