As the health overhaul debate moves forward, several bloggers are pondering political strategies.
Pollster.com’s Brendan Nyhan takes another look at polls following President Obama’s September 9th health care speech and finds there was “a small upward blip after the speech but the series quickly returned to its previous trajectory.” Nyhan concludes, “I’m emphasizing this point because there’s a misperception among journalists that the president can easily move public opinion. As we’ve seen again and again over the years, it’s simply not true, but the lack of followup by the press means that the lesson is never learned.”
Bob Laszewski reemerges after a silent second half of September to pontificate about Democrats’ efforts: “The leadership and the White House will do anything they can to get any bill that qualifies as a breakthrough. If they can get this to within a handful of votes in the House and one or two Senate votes they will drag this thing across the line.” Laszewski identifies three “converging issues:” Democrats’ desire to pass a bill, low public support and differences between the House and Senate versions that have yet to be ironed out. He concludes, “Just how will they finally sort-out? That will make for the most fascinating domestic political battle in recent history.”
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn lays out the swing vote possiblities among members of the Senate Finance Committee: Democrats Blanche Lincoln, Bill Nelson, Jay Rockefeller and Ron Wyden, and Republican Olympia Snowe. According to Cohn’s math, Baucus can lose all of the panel’s Republicans plus one Dem, but if another Democrat votes against the bill, one Republican must vote for it.
The American Spectator’s Philip Klein, jumping off a Wall Street Journal article, envisions a new White House strategy building off on attacks from conservatives: “So as Obama enters the stage of the health care debate in which he’ll have to find a way to talk liberals into accepting less, his best ally may be his critics on the right. One can see a White House pitch to liberals that more or less amounts to, a loss on health care means victory for Joe Wilson, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.”
Lastly, Matthew Yglesias, traveling in Sweden, visited a museum that had an exhibit on pre-modern health care. The experience led him to mull over what a health reform debate would look like in 1500, and Yglesias wonders if things would actually be so different:
But whatever elements of human psychology—some combination of wishful thinking plus Robin Hanson’s point that we spend on health care for relatives not only because we care but also to show we care—created a viable market in non-cures are still with us. And that’s got to be an important factor in why it’s hard to design satisfactory health care systems. It’s noteworthy when you compare what different countries do that there’s enormous diversity in policy while the diversity in actual outcomes is hard to find and hard to measure.