|1. No, its not a different point
I objected to Ben Smith's assertion that Emanuel was vindicated by pointing to a Politico piece that claimed Emanuel was arguing for a called back bill smaller than a Senate bill. Since progressives, labor and Nancy Pelosi were instead arguing for the Senate bill plus a sidecar fix, and since that is the process which was adopted instead of a scaled back bill, I said it was Emanuel who caved to progs, not the other way around.
Glenn responds by writing that this isn't the issue:
The "vindication" Smith sees has nothing to do with Emanuel's advocacy for a "scaled-back" bill, but is about a different point entirely: namely, Emanuel's assumption that there was absolutely no reason to accommodate progressive objections to the health care bill because progressives (despite their threats) would automatically fall into line and support whatever the White House wanted, even if their demands were ignored. Is there really any doubt that Emanuel was right about this point?
That is not a different point--it is exactly the same point. If progressives were objecting to a scaled back bill, and a scaled back bill didn't happen because of their objections, then progressive demands were accommodated, not ignored. In a post-Massachusetts context,. Progressives got the demand they were making.
2. Even the argument that Emanuel thought progressives would cave is "anonymous royal court intrigue" reports
Glen argues that you can't really prove Emanuel was advocating for a scaled back bill:
Assuming that Emanuel really advocated for a scaled-back version (that's from anonymous royal court intrigue reports, so who knows?), this objection (as Smith acknowledges) is true as far as it goes
It is true that the claim that Emanuel was arguing for a scaled back bill is based on "anonymous royal court intrigue reports." Then again, so it the claim that Emanuel assumed progressives would cave. Where is that proof? And why should we believe some anonymous royal court intrigue reports and not others?
3. Progressives cut a deal on the July 31st letter way back in September
Quite a few people keep pointing to the July 31st letter where 60 Democrats vowed to oppose any bill with a public option. Relevant passages from that letter:
Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable.(...)
We simply cannot vote for such a proposal.
It certainly doesn't look good to go back on a threat like that. However, those Democrats already folded on that letter when all but two of them voted for the House bill in November. They weren't threatening to vote against a bill without any public option--they were threatening to vote against a bill without a public option based on Medicare rates. That sort of public option wasn't in the House bill that passed in November.
The bloc caved over four months ago, not now. Only considering House Progressive support for the current legislation to be going back on their word doesn't make any sense. If you were holding them to the words of the July 31st letter, you should have been demanding your money back from those Representatives as far back as November 7th. If you were holding them to the July 31st letter, and considering swerving from it a betrayal, you probably confused the matter a bit by openly considering raising money for some of them since that time.
In fact, the bloc actually caved well before November 7th. In mid-September, in response to Progressive threats to kill the bill, Speaker Pelosi gave them the green light to prove that a public option tied to Medicare rates:
I have done some checking on whether Representative Grijalva's claim in The Hill this morning that 46 members will vote against a bill without a public option represents the final count from the Progressive Caucus's whip count from three weeks ago.
It turns out that they never finished that whip count, and 46 was simply the number they were at when they dropped the effort. At the time they stopped, they were actually running above the 60 members who signed the letter opposing health care reform without a public option back in August. At least two other members had signed on.
The effort was dropped, however, in order to begin a new whip count of the entire Democratic Caucus on support for a public option with Medicare +5% rates (aka, the "robust" public option the Progressive Block had been demanding). This new whip count was begun at the request of Speaker Pelosi, who had challenged the Progressive Caucus to demonstrate sufficient support to pass such a public option.
Their threat led to this whip count, which ended up not finding the votes. And, once this whip count was started, the threat to vote against a bill without a public option was never reiterated.
The bloc folded in mid-September in return for the opportunity to whip the entire caucus, with the approval of the leadership, on the Medicare public option. You can argue that was a bad deal to make, but the deal was cut six months ago, and was made public in October.
Now, let me be clear. I am not going to try and whip progressives who are opposed to this bill into line. I also agree that House Progressives gave up a lot more than they got during the course of this process. Also, many people who feel let down by the Democrats who signed the July 31st letter have a good case.
All I am saying is:
And that's it.
- Progressives did get some concessions in return. They were not entirely shut out.
- There is a good case to be made that, after Massachusetts, they made Rahm fall into line, not the other way around
- Stop waving around the July 31st letter, as though nothing happened between now and then, or as though what is happening now is the first time the promise in that letter wasn't broken.