The health care dance is not over—but it’s only a dance
Earlier this evening I posted an AP article which said that “Democratic Congressional leaders confronted the reality Tuesday that they may not be able to pass the comprehensive health care overhaul…” Coming from the partisan liberal AP in the immediate wake of Obama’s revamped bill, I took that as a decisive sign that this thing isn’t going to fly.
However, an article tonight at Politico differs almost 180 degrees from the AP piece:
Senate Dems warm to reconciliationI don’t believe it. I think that the Politico writer, Carrie Budoff Brown, is echoing Obama administration talking points, as part of the shaping of public opinion leading up to the “summit.” And in support of what I’ve just said, Brown at the end of the article turns around and completely undercuts what she said in the opening paragraphs:
To be sure, the hints on reconciliation do not signal any kind of ironclad commitment. Democrats remain hesitant about using the procedure, fearful that Republicans will be successful in convincing voters that it is an end-run around the normal legislative process.Remember, all the players—and the reporters are players too—are engaged in a political dance. Thus moderate Senate Democrats put out “hints” (that’s Brown’s word) that they may support reconciliation, while also expressing reservations about it; and Politico turns those mere hints into the sensational lead:
Senate Dems warm to reconciliationBut when Kent Conrad, who as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee would presumably play a leading role in the reconciliation process, since reconciliation is a budget measure, states that reconciliation cannot be used to pass a measure nearly as broad as Obama’s proposal, then that shoots down the assertion made in the article’s lead. Given the definitiveness of Conrad’s statement, as contrasted with the pro-reconciliation “hints” from some senators, the correct and honest headline and lead of this article would have been:
Top Senate Dem shoots down reconciliationThat’s what Brown actually reported. But she didn’t say it until the 14th paragraph—the last paragraph—of the article.
Brown’s job is to keep the dance going—and how can we know the dancer from the dance?
Ken Hechtman writes:
Let’s say you’re right and the Democrats have no intention of passing a health-care bill. What do they gain by dragging the process out?LA replies:
When I said that “all the players … are engaged in a dance,” the examples I gave were not of the leaders who are pushing the bill, but of the secondary players who are reacting to it, positioning themselves in relation to it. So let’s say that Obama and the Congressional leaders want to pass it. But the Dems who “hint” that they might support reconciliation, but don’t commit themselves to supporting it, are engaged in a dance. The reporter who takes those hints and falsely builds them up into a misleading headline and lead paragraph, is engaged in a dance. As for the leaders, I did not mean, at least in this entry, that all that they intend to do is to dance (though I did suggest in another entry, as a way-out theory, that that was true of Obama). I meant that, whether they think they can pass it or not, everything they are doing adds up in the end to nothing more than a dance, because, based on the evidence before us, such as Sen. Conrad’s statement, the bill cannot pass.LA continues:
As for whether the Democratic base will be more alienated by the process being dragged out for months without success, or by Obama’s failing to push the bill for as long as he can keep pushing it, I don’t know the answer.Ken Hechtman replies:
If we’re talking about low-information first time voters, I figure it’s the first possibility. Low-information voters don’t know or care about filibusters and cloture supermajorities and reconciliation votes. They’ll assume a president plus a majority of senators could have passed anything they really wanted to pass.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 24, 2010 01:14 AM | Send