Democratic leaders say their post-August strategy is to “convince members that nothing is set in stone and that they are more than open to negotiations. And they’re engaging in a softer sell, prioritizing health insurance reforms while pitching the public option as something that’s way, way down the road.” A “softer sell” to whom, exactly? Conservative Democrats can (hopefully) be whipped into a vote, but if Democrats try to please Republicans, then they’ll fail the American people. After all, pleasing Republicans would require one to abandon health care reform entirely.
Consider Matt Corley’s latest addition to GrassleyWatch — a now daily project chronicling Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) absolute refusal to negotiate with Democrats on the all-important Senate Finance Committee bill. Throughout the month of August, Grassley has managed to re-commit himself to obstructionism on a daily basis and today, during a conference call with Iowa radio reporters, Grassley suggested that the only way to reach a bipartisan compromise would be to first defeat the current Democratic health care proposals:
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says there may be only one path Democrats can take to get Republicans to support for health care reform. “There’s a feeling that the only way to get a bipartisan agreement is to defeat a Democratic proposal on the first hand and then the Democrats will come to Republican leadership and then, at that point, they’ll know the only way they’re going to get health care reform is bipartisan,” Grassley says.
The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), has also argued that “the public response lawmakers were seeing over the summer break should persuade Democrats to scrap their approach and start over.” “There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill,” he said. Similarly, just yesterday, rather than promising to help negotiate a bipartisan solution, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Chairman of the House Republican Conference, proudly proclaimed that Democrats “ought to scrap the bill that has been moving through the House of Representatives.”
So what to do with the public option, the employer mandate, or subsidy levels? Well, it’s simple. If Democrats believe that a public option is good public policy, or that employers should continue providing coverage, they should include these provisions in the final bill. Republicans have diminished themselves to irrelevancy — it doesn’t matter what they think about the public option because they have admitted that will not vote for a reform bill.
And so, it’s no longer about pleasing the other side. It’s about increasing access, lowering costs, ending predatory insurance practices — and whipping Democratic support for reform. Let’s get to it.