Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Wednesday Roundup

with 6 comments

* Skepticism fail: James Randi jumps the shark. Ugh.

* Health care reform continues its endless slide into oblivion. Steve Benen counts the five senators still not on board: Ben Nelson/Olympia Snowe from the “center,” and Feingold, Sanders, and Burris from the left. Meanwhile, Crooks & Liars and Firedoglake still argue the Liebermanized bill is worse than nothing, while Yglesias singles out Harry Reid for praise:

…the fact of the matter is that there’s almost no precedent for the legislative mission he’s been asked to accomplish of turning 59 Democrats, one loosely Democrat-aligned Independent, and two slightly moderate Republicans into 60 votes for a package that’s simultaneously a dramatic expansion of the welfare state and a measure that reduces both short- and long-term deficits.

Fair enough. But it’s Reid’s total rejection of reconciliation as even a theoretical alternative that has left us in this mess in the first place. Reid gets no special praise from me.

* io9’s 20 best SF films of the 2000s. Totally forgot Spider-Man 2 and Eternal Sunshine were from this decade; it’s been a long ten years.

* And meat-eaters finally win a round: “Meat may be the reason humans outlive apes.”

6 Responses

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  1. Why do you keep harping on reconciliation, with the mandatory sunset and the necessarily longer process and the weak-ass bill that would necessarily result? We’re a hair’s breadth from a great deal of real reform and we wouldn’t be here if Reid had been pursuing reconciliation. True, the bill might die in the Senate, but I think given how far we’ve come, it was the right call to try.

    Steve writes:
    Reconciliation continues to bring its own complications, most notably months of additional delay (limiting Congress’ ability to move on the rest of its agenda), the likelihood of having to break the bill apart, the unpredictable whims of the parliamentarian, the need to still get 60 votes on non-budget-related provisions, and the expiration date that comes with reconciliation (the notion of doing all of this again in 2015 is unappealing).

    Bill Simmon

    December 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm

  2. Bill – In fairness, I think that Gerry’s point is that Reid should have kept reconciliation on the table as a threat to gain some leverage with the party “centrists” – not that he should be pursuing it now. That’s not an unreasonable view.

    On this business of tactics, there’s room for a lot of reasonable disagreement. At the end of the day, it’s very hard to know how these counterfactual scenarios would have played out, particularly when you’re dealing with really idiosyncratic, non-systemic variables like the whims of a specific politician.

    For example, the longer the debate drags on, the more that public support plummets, and the greater the peril to passing any bill at all, the more it’s looking like the White House’s skepticism about the public option gambit may have been astute. On the other hand, Yglesias’ argument strikes me as plausible as well. If it fails to pass, it’ll be easy to second-guess Reid from all directions, but it’ll be hard to do so with any certainty.

    Shankar D

    December 16, 2009 at 3:33 pm

  3. Yes, my point was that rejecting reconciliation from the outset *necessarily* put Lieberman and Nelson in the driver’s seat — they were given no incentive to compromise, and accordingly they refuse to. Everything that has happened was predictable months ago from the decision to reject reconciliation no matter what the cost.

    I’m also a bit more bullish on reconciliation outcomes than Steve. I recognize that using the reconciliation strategy the bill would have needed to be in two halves — but unless Lieberman/Nelson/etc voted for cloture on the insurance reform half out of spite (and they might have) I think both could have been passed. (And I think the sunset provision would have been mostly theoretical, too; my expectation these would be popular programs and would be quickly expanded and made permanent.)

    If we’d used reconciliation this would have also been over in August.

    Don’t get me wrong, reconciliation would by no means have been ideal, but it would be better than being in perpetual thrall to bad actors who aren’t even negotiating in good faith. Sometimes you have to play hardball.

    I do agree it’s too late to switch now. This process needs to end as soon as humanly possible and the way out is to pass the Senate’s bill.


    December 16, 2009 at 3:56 pm

  4. (Though, I like I said yesterday, if Reid passes the public option by reconciliation the day after the Liebermanized HCR bill signed he’ll be my hero. As far as I know there’s no reason he couldn’t do this, other than the obvious long-term damage to Senate comity.)


    December 16, 2009 at 3:57 pm

  5. […] a comment » Potentially seismic news tonight as Bernie Sanders (backing me up on reconciliation) now says he currently can’t support the health care bill. This comes amidst his fellow […]

  6. […] a comment » * James Randi responds to the criticism he received yesterday for his stated climate change […]

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