The largely positive impact of a boring health care summit

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Feb 25, 2010 at 14:07


Note--livestream moved to thread above this one--Chris

Drudge thinks the health care summit is boring:


He isn't wrong.  The discussion has been pretty boring up until now.  And, if a political junkie like me is bored, I can't imagine that the average voter is exactly sitting on the edge of her chair.

Still, just because a summit is boring does not mean it is unimportant.  There are some big impacts of a much-hyped summit being boring:

  • Both sides seem reasonable.  The main reason the summit is boring is that the discussion has turned to esoteric policy proposals.  This makes both sides appear reasonable.  In turn, that makes charges of "communism" or "obstruction" seem a lot less credible.  It looks like well informed people are discussing substantive legislation, rather than throwing bombs at each other.

  • Deflates urgency.  Lower rhetoric means less drama and less urgency for reform, or for blocking reform.  With the breathless, desperate rhetoric that has characterized the health reform debate so far weakened by a boring policy discussion, the urgency of passing or blocking health reform is also deflated.

  • Probably a positive for overall bill's popularity. The overall bill is not very popular (Pollster.com shows Favor 41.9%--51.4% Oppose), even though most of the key provisions of the bill are quite popular.  The more people are hearing about policy, rather than the bill as abstract rhetorical abomination, is probably a positive for the popularity of the bill.  And, even before the summit, the net popularity of the health reform bill is up about 2% already.
All in all, the summit is a huge net positive for the possibility of passing health reform this year.  Democrats were losing the rhetorical battle on this bill, and a boring summit largely helps them.  Also, after the Massachusetts special election, health reform has largely dropped from the news and seen activist support take a hit.  The build-up to the summit changed all that.

While a boring summit won't make Republicans look like obstructionists, it should still ultimately be a bonus for the prospect of passing health reform.

Chris Bowers :: The largely positive impact of a boring health care summit

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Really? (0.00 / 0)
Chris, do you really think this summit is going to reduce the Republicans' urgency of opposing reform, or make them less likely to obstruct?  That sounds like a fantasy to me.  And it'd be nice if this little puppet show increased the bill's popularity, but since when does our government care about what's popular? (ie, the public option)

Harkin! (4.00 / 3)
Thank you!  Actually attacking a Republican talking point in a way people can understand.  "Incrementalism" - like throwing a 10 foot rope to a drowning man 50 feet away.  About right.

A small moment of pleasure in a boring if not dismal day.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


I think you are right Chris (0.00 / 0)
I think summit deflated the fierceness of the GOP attacks.  If nothing else, there haven't been many "death panel" moments.   That alone means the discussion is closer to reality.  I think the time taken for this discussion and the buildup to it have allowed many on the left to reflect upon the benefit of choosing between this bill or nothing.  Given the pressure of the media, the health industry, and the lack of pressure by the White House, something near to the Senate Bill is probably the reality.  I believe the Senate Bill, without modification is worse than nothing.  But with a few minor changes we could pass something to build on.  Howard Dean points this out at HuffPo:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

The pressure to include the PO is good and should continue.  We should also keep a discussion of Medicare For All alive.  But I think we are nearing the end of productive negotiation.  It is time for the Dems to fish or cut bait.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


Kabuki Theater. (4.00 / 5)
This script was written long ago.  Obama presents an extremely conservative plan to radically increase health insurance and PhRMA profits while the Republicans argue that it needs to be even more conservative and industry friendly.

In 2010, having a health care discussion without inclusion of a single payer solution is akin to having a discussion on the dangers of night driving while keeping the concept of headlights off the table.

We'll remember this come November.


Kabuki (0.00 / 0)
Just a small thing, but everyone online really abuses the words "Kabuki Theater".  What's special about Kabuki isn't that there's a preordained outcome -- that's true of all theater.  Kabuki is just a certain style of theater.

It just bugs me to see an ancient artform's name get misused consistently.


[ Parent ]
I think the reason (4.00 / 2)
people like the metaphor "kabuki" so much much is because kabuki is incomprehensible to outsiders. In other words, tho opposite of what politics is supposed to be in a democracy.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I'm a little more cynical (0.00 / 0)
I think people like the metaphor because it sounds smarter and more esoteric than it is.

Present company excepted, of course.


[ Parent ]
I dunno (4.00 / 3)
It seems that both sides "seeming reasonable" helps Republicans, given that they are, in fact, you know, batshit.

To make reconciliation work politically in the short term -- not to mention passing a huge and unpopular-ish bill on a party line vote -- Dems need to reveal the GOP as the obstructionist corporate whores that they are.

As you yourself have pointed out, Chris, it's not the wild teabagging claims --socialism, death panels -- that are turning the middle against this bill. Rather, it's real stuff -- like mandates, the excise tax -- and rational intangibles, like fear of change and a lack of trust in Obama and government.  

If it's two reasonable sides having philosophical disagreements, Dems lose.  


It's also the price tag (4.00 / 1)
The trillion bucks price tag surely have a good deal to do with health care numbers being in the toilet.

Sixpack may not be wised up; but he does have an inkling that the spending estimates are likely to be exceeded (tweaking the numbers is part of the rationale for the 2014 start-date, though he doesn't know that); and that the revenue side is likely to be flaky (the Cadillac tax is under a cloud and relying on Medicare savings is problematic - he doesn't know that either, probably).

Because the public face of Obama's health care reform has been a mess, leaving even the most wised-up knawing their arms off in confusion and frustration, it's little wonder that a (rightly) untrusting electorate is betting that the reform, if enacted, will be one big gouge, and telling Washington where to shove it.


[ Parent ]
True (0.00 / 0)
Excellent point, David.  Why would we want to help the Rs look reasonable?  If we could help them be reasonable, that would be great.  But I don't think we can.

Obama seems to care more about the state of the other party than his own.


[ Parent ]
re: reconciliation (4.00 / 2)
To make reconciliation work politically in the short term -- not to mention passing a huge and unpopular-ish bill on a party line vote -- Dems need to reveal the GOP as the obstructionist corporate whores that they are.

to make reconciliation work the dems have to be willing to do it

the people don't care how it gets passed, just if it helps them


[ Parent ]
Thanks Chris for the excellent feed (0.00 / 0)
It's much better than my C-Span feed

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


Listening to C-Span radio on XM (0.00 / 0)
Two Republicans called in during the lunch break and were emphatic in dubbing the Republicans obstructionists, just so you know! Peter Slen is hosting, and he did a good job with Carrie from Politico in one segment. As each person spoke, Peter would ask them to share one element they would want in the final bill.

I like the way Obama deflects the bumptious members in the opposition.


Positive impact? (4.00 / 1)
On whom, and to what end? If anything, this will make the Republicans even angrier and less willing to cooperate. The very idea that the President would dare train a camera on them, and expect them to speak in front of a public jury, almost like a common criminal.

This changes nothing, as far as I can see. We're still gonna pay the wrong people, and when we finally get the shit that's been prepared for us since the outset, the President is still gonna smirk like a Southern Baptist preacher and protest that his hands are clean.


i read this post and all the comments so far and chuck grassley still wasn't done talking (0.00 / 0)
he's done now.  it was a series of disconnected points, most of which were probably untrue.  

anyway, i'm not sure if chris is right but one of the advantages of republicans sounding sane is that it puts pressure on them to continue speaking, sounding sane, being boring, etc.  it's pulls them away from the glenn beck type of insane raving and towards the obama style of dull, and somewhat conservative, policymaking.  consider it training maybe - to change the political conversation.

that said, i think much more could have been done in the part that i saw to really push that wedge in further between politicking, deception, insanity on the one hand and sincere if misplaced concern for things like deficits.


Shorter Boehner (4.00 / 1)
Medicare is going to go bankrupt tomorrow, but it's the best medical system in the world.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, inorrectly entered as a reply to Dr. Anonymous (0.00 / 0)


sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
see john boehner just said on video (0.00 / 0)
"i think this is a useful meeting"

what's he going to say to his base?  is he going to be branded as not-conservative-enough like all the other ones who attempt to sound sane for even a second?


[ Parent ]
oh never mind (0.00 / 0)
he just said "government takeover of healthcare"
am looking forward to the response, but i think i will be disappointing.

[ Parent ]
i really hope boehner runs for president :) (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
hahahaha (0.00 / 0)
i think obama just gave him a timeout :)

[ Parent ]
Pressure (0.00 / 0)
"it puts pressure on them to continue sounding sane"

Until some fire-breathing Teabagger mounts a primary challenge against them, that is.


[ Parent ]
but that's the point (0.00 / 0)
you force them to choose.  you drive a wedge between the people who are very unlikely to win majorities and will discredit the very idea of bipartisanism (And really conservatism) adn the people who are acting the part but don't really believe it (e.g. arlen specter types and even people to the right of him).  Do they want to be part of the elite or do they want to be faux populists, because they can't be both - that's the kind of question that wedges produce.  

at some point, 'conservative' would become tarred witht he same level of horrendous reputation in the mainstream that it has here and that liberalism acquired through decades of work by conservatives.  This is a first step towards that.

Also, on a more practical level, Obama made a very astute point when he was talkign to the House GOP caucus when he told them that their rhetoric abuot socialism and whatnot was boxing them in in terms of what comrpomises or policy choices they're able to make because of what they've said to their base.  The bet that the Administration seems to be making is that if you separate out the really bad behavior from the vehement disagreements, that almost forces the republicans to be a 'loyal' opposition - as opposed to a disloyal opposition, which they are now.  This helps to add another dimension to that.

Anyway, that's the positive I can see in it - I don't know if it's accurate, but it seems like it can't do any harm.  After all, you had a debate yesterday which more or less centered around policy substance - whether you agree or disagree with it.  


[ Parent ]
Shorter Boehner (0.00 / 0)
Medicare is going to go bankrupt tomorrow, but it's the best medical system in the world.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

Great job by Durbin! (0.00 / 0)
Dick Durbin did a great job in my opinion in setting the malpractice discussion into perspective.  His point was this is only a tiny piece of the big picture, and focus by the Republicans on this misses the bigger problems in the HC system.

I'm not convinced anything is coming out of this meeting, but the Reps have not shown that these bills are flawed except for the shenanigans of Lieberman, B. Nelson, and others which really hurt the HCR effort with the public.  


Did Dingell just say (0.00 / 0)
he knew some of the Republicans "before they were virgins"?
{speaking about reconciliation)

Too bad he's so feeble sounding.  It's a great line if so.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


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