Sunday, July 26, 2009

# Posted 11:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

Is Republican support necessary to pass a healthcare reform bill? The question came up Sunday morning on ABC:
[GEORGE] STEPHANOPOULOS: So it's not possible to have a Democrat-only bill.

[SEN. KENT] CONRAD: No, it is not possible and perhaps not desirable either.
During the roundtable that followed the interview with Conrad, George Will observed,
The president has 60 senators. He has a 70-vote majority in the House of Representatives and he blames Republicans. That's not the problem. His difficulties extend from the Mayo Clinic to the Congressional Budget Office, which just yesterday said of the president's latest proposal, a panel, a magic silver bullet to constrain costs, that it would save maybe $2 billion.
Clearly, the tenor of Will's comments was confrontational. But leave that aside for moment. If the Democrats have 60 votes in the Senate and a 70-vote majority in the House, how is it possible that Obama is having trouble getting his plan through?

Republicans would argue that Obama's plan is so bad that even centrist Democrats won't support it. Maybe. But plenty of awful bills have made it through Congress simply because the majority wanted it that way. Why not this time?

One answer is that it's simply premature to assume that a bill won't make it out of Congress. In his contribution to the roundtable, Paul Krugman suggested,
All of that we're seeing, all of the Sturm und Drang, and all of that is actually just Kabuki; that in the end, the Democrats will come together. What we're seeing is jostling for the shape of the final outcome. And that in the end, everybody will come on board, the Blue Dogs will come onboard, the progressives will come onboard, because of the fear of failure.
The Democrats didn't come together in 1994, when they had similar majorities in the House and Senate. This time around, they're under much greater pressure to come together precisely because they failed to do in 1994.

Don't ask me what happens next.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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