Monday, December 21, 2009

Yep, that backlash sure is coming...

"Support for the health care reform bill that Democrats are pushing through the Senate has risen six points since early December, according to a new national poll, and although a majority of Americans still oppose its passage, only four in ten agree with Senate Republicans that the bill is too liberal."
To be sure, if Democrats were passing the bill Republicans claimed they were passing, then it would cause backlash. But they aren't, and most people aren't going to see much of a change on a day-to-day basis.

This post by Jon Chait has been going around:

'Mr. Bayh said that the health care measure was the kind of public policy he had come to Washington to work on, according to officials who attended the session, and that he did not want to see the satisfied looks on the faces of Republican leaders if they succeeded in blocking the measure.'

Evan Bayh! When you've turned the somnolent, relentlessly centrist Indiana Senator into a raging partisan, you've really done something.
This strikes me as true, and it is very real evidence that the GOP's legislative strategy hasn't been very good. They've filibustered literally everything, lied without compunction, and in the process have seemingly annoyed the living shit out of every Democratic senator there is. Which makes me wonder if the GOP's intense partisanship isn't going to pay further dividends for the Democrats. Public option aside, the cost of bringing the conservaDems on board health care was fairly light. I tend to think that this was a matter of personal ideology for the conservative Democrats in question (Lieberman obviously excepted), rather than just a matter of insurance industry bribery. So, what happens if the same dynamic reasserts itself on financial reform? What if Republicans decide to use the same playbook, introduce endless delays, and yell about socialism again? I think it's a near certainty they will. But will it have the same effect of pushing conservative Democrats into the arms of the mainstream Democratic Party? It very well might. It's true that Wall Street will spend a lot of money trying to kill financial regulation, but the insurance companies spent a lot of money trying to kill health care reform and, barring some late-hour dramatics, it would appear that they've failed. Furthermore, it doesn't appear that the provisions of financial regulation should be more difficult for conservative Democrats to swallow ideologically than HCR. I can't imagine a Democrat of any stripe having a problem with a consumer financial protection agency, for example. It's true that HCR is a signature Democratic issue and literally a generational opportunity, but banking regulation has been a key Democratic issue back to the New Deal as well, of course. I have no idea what the odds might be, but it will be interesting to find out how things go.

Perhaps this is optimistic, but it is certainly possible that the end result of the endless health care debate will be a more coherent and united Democratic Party, at least in terms of its Senate cohort. And if that turns out to be the case, we'll have the Republican Party's polarization to thank for it.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.