While there were more (and more vocal) Kagen supporters this time around, I would say the room was at least 5 to 1 against. This time, Kagen was clearly more prepared for the onslaught and had his talking points memorized. The two major points were uniform disclosed pricing and a prohibition on the typical pre-existing condition exclusion. In other words, health insurance reform.
And you know what, this is a good strategy politically. Even the people that denounced HR3200 and it's monstrous page count got up and said they did think knowing the price of things was helpful (that's how markets work after all). They did say that not allowing for pre-existing conditions made purchasing insurance harder (though I'm not convinced that anyone has thought about the longer term consequences of basically prohibiting underwriting.) This is why I thought Kagen's tactics were the right move in terms of getting re-elected. And it looked like there was some movement in that direction nationally.
Here's Dad29 on September 1st discussing the President's new approach:
...they say that the goal is to give his side -- Democrats -- a true presidential plan that they can sell. That includes the rebranding of several consensus initiatives, like the insurance reforms, as his own. The effect of this sales job, if it works, will be to associate the president with parts of the reform bills that are almost certainly likely to pass -- assuming the Senate doesn't bog down.Okay, so it looks like the Democrats are going to scale back their proposals in order to preserve their majority in 2010. But wait!
Apparently he got the hint.
Here's liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias also on September 1st:
But Brian Beutler points out that going the reconciliation route might force a more left-wing version of the public option:By now my head is spinning. It seems to me that at this point Kagen's re-election prospects are entirely in the hands of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and President Obama and how they decide to move the health care legislation forward.
...According to Martin Paone, a legislative expert who’s helping Democrats map out legislative strategy, a more robust public option–one that sets low prices, and provides cheap, subsidized insurance to low- and middle-class consumers–would have an easier time surviving the procedural demands of the so-called reconciliation process.
Here's political blogger Nate Silver*:
That's why Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's vote-whipping skills are going to be so essential: they have to help Democrats out of a prisoner's dilemma in which each member's individual interest harms the party's collective interest. It's also why if a health care bill passes, it's almost certainly going to be by a very narrow margin.In some respects you have to feel for Kagen. Queen Nancy may go over great at the Golden Gate, but in Peshtigo? Not so much.
If I was a marginal Democrat, like Kagen surely is, I would be on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the Democratic leadership does next. Having to vote 'yes' on a bill that is not going to pass the Senate, especially under reconciliation if that process really does move the bill Left, is a tough way to go out. Of course, what is bad news for Kagen could be good news for the people of WI-8.
*I'm not sure what Silver is describing is actually a prisoner's dilemma. If all Democrats cooperate and pass an unpopular bill, how does that improve the outcome for those marginal Democrats?