Monday, January 11, 2010


I continue to believe that a health care bill won't pass, and E.J. Dionne's column in today's Washington Post, which is designed to make me think health care is essentially a done deal, instead suggests to me one possible bill-killing scenario:

But more than negotiators can afford to acknowledge openly, there is broad agreement on the kinds of concessions the Senate can make to the House and still preserve the 60 votes needed for passage.

... the outlines of a deal are becoming reasonably clear. The public option is, alas, dead. But the idea of setting up a national insurance exchange -- alongside state exchanges -- where the uninsured can buy coverage is very much alive.

So, is that it? Negotiators will settle on a national exchange, House progressives will give their assent, the skids will seem to be greased ... and then Joe Lieberman will declare that this is a "back-door public option" and is thus unacceptable?

Until now I imagined the bill would founder on the refusal of Bart Stupak and his Stupakettes to accept the Ben Nelson language on abortion. But the scenario outlined above also seems plausible. And no, I don't think "Iago" Lieberman really cares whether being the bill-killing angers his constituents -- the recent poll that showed his ratings cratering in Connecticut was from Public Policy Polling, a polling outfit that utterly botched the NY-23 race and currently has an outlier poll in the Massachusetts Senate race. Oh, and Lieberman's toughest potential challenger for 2012, state attorney general Richard Blumenthal, is now going to run for Connecticut's other Senate seat. And besides, I'm not sure Lieberman cares anymore -- he's having too much fun. So maybe this'll be it.

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