Commentary Magazine


RE: Any Deal

You can see why Harry Reid is trying frantically to throw anything up against the wall to see if 60 votes will stick. In addition to the Quinnipiac poll, there’s this from the Democratic Public Policy poll:

Support for Obama on health care has hit another new low with just 39% of voters now expressing approval of his health care plans and 52% opposed. 90% of respondents who said they were opposed to Obama’s plan said it was because it involved the government too much in health care with just 6% saying their opposition was because it didn’t create enough government involvement. This would seem to refute other recent polling that suggested a large amount of opposition to Obama on health care was coming from the left.

If Congress leaves town to face the voters, the artificially induced momentum cooked up by Reid will dissipate, and the bill, I suspect, will die. But not everyone is willing to be buffaloed into a quickie vote. As Bill Kristol points out, Joe Lieberman is insisting on figuring out what the bill contains and has already caught on to a significant flaw: “Regarding the ‘Medicare buy-in’ proposal that is being discussed, we must remain vigilant about protecting and extending the solvency of the program, which is now in a perilous financial condition.” It will be more perilous after Congress takes out more than $400 billion from Medicare funding.

This is barely half-baked stuff coming out of Reid’s backroom kitchen. And the telltale sign is that the Democrats aren’t releasing any details. As Sen. Mitch McConnell put it: “They are, for lack of a better term, winging it on one of the most consequential pieces of domestic legislation in memory. … So what’s becoming abundantly clear is that the Majority will make any deal, agree to any terms, sign any dotted line that brings them closer to final passage of this terrible bill.” McConnell wryly suggests that “Americans would much rather we get it right than scurry around throwing together untested, last-minute experiments in order to get 60 votes by Christmas.”

We’ll see if the Senate really is the world’s greatest deliberative body and takes seriously its obligation to figure out what is in Reid’s grab bag of ill-conceived schemes to save his — and his party’s — political skin.