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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 29, 2010

 
Giving Himself Away

by digby

It would appear that Rahm finally said something so obvious that even the Cheeto-hating New Republic has had enough. Jonathan Cohn writes:

Rahm Emanuel thinks health care reform can wait. In an interview with the New York Times, Emanuel suggested that Congress would deal first with jobs, then banking regulation, and then circle back around to health care reform. As Ezra Klein observes:
The timetable Emanuel is laying out makes little sense. The jobs bill will take some time. Financial regulation will take much longer. Let's be conservative and give all this four months. Is Emanuel really suggesting that he expects Congress to return to health-care reform in the summer before the election? Forgetting whether there's political will at that point, there's no personnel: Everyone is home campaigning.
Moreover, there's a time limit on health-care reform. The open reconciliation instructions the Senate could use to modify the bill expire when the next budget is (there's disagreement over the precise rule on this) considered or passed. That is to say, the open reconciliation instructions expire soon. Democrats could build new reconciliation instructions into the next budget, but that's going to be a heavy lift. The longer this takes, the less likely it is to happen. And Emanuel just said that the administration's preference is to let it take longer. If I were a doctor, I'd downgrade health care's prognosis considerably atop this evidence.

My colleague Jonathan Chait agrees, and offers this helpful analogy:
Let's call this the "My boyfriend is going to do a world tour with his rock band, then have a totally platonic weekend in Vegas with his ex-girlfriend, then join the Army, and then we'll get married" plan. Anybody see any potential problems here?


The most generous reading I can give is that he's trying to derail any efforts to pass a public option or medicare buy-in through reconciliation and ensure that none of the deals he struck will be harmed in the process.

Which leads me to ask if they still don't ask the right question: did Rahm ever want to pass real health care reform? And if he did, can there be any excuse for his having mangled the legislative strategy so badly?

From the absurd strategy to try to call health care reform "deficit reduction", to backroom deals after the president ran explicitly on transparency, to allowing the hostage taking by the Gang of Six for months to a dozen other inexplicable tactics --- it all makes the most sense if you already assume that he wasn't fully committed to its passage.

Maybe not. I'm not one to mythologize single actors, and I do believe that the buck always stops with the president. But either Rahm is a brilliant legislative strategist, in which case he didn't bother to use his great powers to pass health care reform for reasons we can only speculate about, given the stakes --- or his reputation for brilliance is extremely overrated. But Rahm's culpability, whether intentional or not, has long been obvious and there's nothing surprising in these recent statements.



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