Thursday, September 3, 2009

Will a change in strategy save Kagen? The Democrats?

On Monday, I attended Steve Kagen's health care listening session at Green Bay's Southwest High School. The crowd was vocal, but not nearly as raucous as Kagen's listening session at the library earlier this month.

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.

Apparently he got the hint.
Okay, so it looks like the Democrats are going to scale back their proposals in order to preserve their majority in 2010. But wait!

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:

...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.
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.

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?


Dad29 said...

The Cannon newsletter now predicts 25-45 House seat losses for the (D) in 2010, as do other observers.

(By the way, "reconciliation" is not technically feasible, no matter how many times Bloomberg News runs their story. Has to do with the Byrd Rule, or some such.)

Anonymous said...

Seems as though both sides have it wrong when talking about the Palin problem of Death.
First of all, most hospitals, doctors offices, insurance companies as a matter of routine, pass out material that you can fill out to let people, family, doctors, know how you feel about the last few days of your life and what procedures to use.
Secondly, this is totally in obvious difference to what Obama, Pelosi and company want in the bill. Some Washington official will determine what meds and procedures you can have or not have depending on your age, degree of sickness, etc. He or she, a non- professional, will do the determining, as opposed to you deciding.
Huge difference and that's what Palin is talking about.

Anonymous said...

Back when the GOP caused the Great Depression, they did the same thing they do today. Sceam socialism and offer no help at all.
So will 2010 be like 1936, when the GOP ticked off everyone, with their insulting and lack of focus and found themselves with 18 Senators and 88 House members, after predicting the end of the New Deal?

Things are not that different.