Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Not Reid

Two interesting posts graced the pages of Daily Kos yesterday. BarbinMd includes a portion of the conversation between Newsweek's Howard Fineman and host Chris Matthews regarding Senator Joseph Lieberman's opposition to any form of public option in health care and comes to a conclusion:

MATTHEWS: Uh, let's talk about this thing with Harry Reid and Lieberman. I call him "Joe the bummer" as in "Joe the plumber," because he's brilliantly timing this thing. 'I'm not for this, I'm not for the public option, now I'm not for the buy-in on Medicare,' the H-55. He's just killing these guys.

FINEMAN: Well, I talked to his spokesman today, I said, look, I'm going on Hardball, give me your side of the story. Okay, their side of the story is, it's a principled thing, there's many parts of the bill he believes in, the Medicare buy-in is an add-on because there's already subsidies. And the guy gave me a lot of plausible stuff. Okay. And I half believe it. I'm sorry ...

MATTHEWS: What's the other half of your beliefs?

FINEMAN: The other half is it's personal with Joe, not with Obama, 'cause don't forget that Obama, the President, supported Lieberman in the fight in the party in Connecticut. It's the grassroots left of the Democratic Party ...

MATTHEWS: That enjoyed his torture.

FINEMAN: That enjoyed his torture and this is payback to them. Obama, excuse me, the President's caught in the middle here. That's my take on it.

MATTHEWS: So he wants Markos Moulitsas to take a hit.

FINEMAN: He wants Moulitsas, he wants Firedoglake, he wants all those people who rode around on the bus of the challenger, who defeated him in the Democratic primary.

So there.

And this is the thumb-sucking baby that Harry Reid is caving to.

Mcjoan posted "Reid Caves: Medicare Buy-in, Public Option Pulled from Senate Bill," ninety minutes later quoted The New Republic's health care expert Jonathan Cohn, who in turn had quoted Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown, who had reported

The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations. ...

The White House disputed this account, saying any notion that officials there are trying to push Reid into cutting a deal with Lieberman is inaccurate. White House officials say they are on the same page with Reid, working with him to find the best way to move forward with reform – not pushing him to do something he doesn’t want to do.

“The report is inaccurate,” said Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director. “The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction. We are working hand-in-hand with the Senate leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible.”

But the source reaffirmed the account, saying that the White House recommended that Reid cut a deal with Lieberman that would allow the health reform bill to pass by Christmas, and that Reid wanted more time before making a final decision.

Cohn adds

But one of TNR's Capitol Hill sources is saying the same thing that Politico's is. According to the source, the message came directly from Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: Lose the Medicare buy-in, reach an accommodation with Lieberman, and pass legislation as soon as possible.

Ryan Grim of The Huffington Post, as mcjoan notes, wrote

Rahm Emanuel visited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his Capitol office on Sunday evening and personally urged him to cut a deal with recalcitrant Sen. Joe Lieberman, two Democratic sources familiar with the situation told the Huffington Post.

Trying hard not to to confirm what he was confirming, Barack Obama Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois admitted “The White House is encouraging us to find 60 votes and to preserve some of the most important parts of the bill. I don’t want to go into the specifics – we want Sen. Lieberman’s support."

Harry Reid is caving? It wasn't the Nevada Senator whom Joe Lieberman was unfavorably comparing to John McCain when the Connecticut Senator in August 2008 framed the presidential election as

between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not....

In my opinion, the choice could not be more clear: between one candidate, John McCain, who’s had experience, been tested in war and tried in peace, another candidate who has not. Between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not. Between one candidate who’s a talker, and the other candidate who’s the leader America needs as our next president.

In case anyone didn't understand which candidate he thought was patriotic, at the Republican National Convention a few weeks later Lieberman condemnedpoked another finger in the eye of Senator Obama, whom he said

is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.

In the Senate he has not reached across party lines to get anything significant done, nor has he been willing to take on powerful interest groups in the Democratic Party.

When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground, John McCain had the courage....

And the problem is.... Harry Reid?

Rahm Emanuel works for President Barack Obama. Whatever the reason(s) for Joe Lieberman to be acting like Joe Lieberman, one thing is clear: the White House wants a bill. Any bill. Anything it can point to and call "health care reform." Whatever the contents. Excusing Barack Obama for his failures may get us closer to a law weak enough to get 60 votes in the United States Senate, but it stands in the way of getting reform that improves, rather than harms, the nation's health care system.

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