Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Adam Nagourney in today's New York Times:

Stripped of the 60th vote needed to block Republican filibusters in the Senate, will Mr. Obama now make further accommodations to Republicans in an effort to move legislation through Congress with more bipartisanship, even at the cost of further alienating liberals annoyed at what they see as his ideological malleability?

Or will he seek to rally his party's base through confrontation, even if it means giving up on getting much done this year?

Obviously, Republicans, pundits, and frightened Democrats are going to demand "accommodation." And, of course, when you're dealing with Republicans, there's no such thing. They're going to demand that Obama throw out everything he wants to do and enact their policies in toto. This is what they'll call accommodation.

And the media and many spineless Democrats will agree.

Which is why I'd love to think Obama will push hard right now for serious reform of Wall Street. Why? Simple reason: the Republicans don't have an alternative on this, except doing absolutely nothing that might hurt bankers' feelings.

I warn you, Republicans do have a health care plan. As near as I can tell, it consists of two items:

1. Limiting lawsuits.
2. Letting people buy insurance across state lines.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that they're not going to be able to sell this as a complete plan. They're brilliant at messaging. We're awful.

Yes, limiting lawsuits will hurt ordinary people. And yes, allowing interstate sales will inevitably lead to one state becoming the consumer-shafting capital of the nation with regard to health insurance, the way South Dakota became the state where you wanted to base your credit-card operation if you wanted the option of charging obscenely high, usurious interest rates. But that won't matter. What Republicans say will seem reasonable -- unless Democrats get their messaging act together.

They're also going to have a "plan" to create jobs. Guess what it'll be: tax cuts! Snicker if you must, but Democrats need to have a rebuttal.

Remember that House Minority Leader John Boehner is planning a new Contract with America, and has just hired a prime mover behind the 1994 Contract as his chief of staff.

These guys are not going to be "the party of no" -- they're going to try to get the president and congressional Dems to enact their (half-assed) agenda as if they actually run things now. The Republicans might actually have some success at this -- unless Democrats actually treat it as a war of ideas, however absurd the GOP's ideas actually are.

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