Here’s the state of play. Right now, leadership aides say, the White House is in talks with House and Senate leaders over the so-called “Cadillac” tax. The House wants the threshold tweaked to make it more palatable to Dem members who oppose it. Some Senators adamantly oppose this. But the leadership is discussing various tweaks that could work.
Crucially, the House leadership may sign on to the compromise even without a tweak to the Cadillac tax, according to a senior leadership aide. That’s because the compromise is not going to be voted on — it’s merely to create something to take to the summit. So this logjam may still get resolved in time…
Meanwhile, Senate Dem leaders are warming to the use of “reconciliation” to fix their bill after the summit, a senior Senate aide says.
“We’re getting closer,” the Senate aide says of reconciliation, adding that the leadership is more likely to pursue that course if the summit doesn’t yield any kind of compromise with Republicans, as expected. “People want to get rid of health care. They want it off the agenda. The simplest answer is that reconciliation may be the most expedient way to do it.”
In other words, instead of bargaining with the GOP from scratch — as Boehner and Cantor initially insisted and as 57 percent of the public wants, per yesterday’s Zogby poll — The One’s going to do the opposite by walking in, pushing a fake deal in front of the GOP, and declaring before the cameras that America’s health-care problems can now be solved unless the “party of no” insists on further obstructionism. And if they do, of course, he’ll have no choice but to save America by ramming the bill through in reconciliation. It’s not a negotiation, in other words, it’s an opportunity to frame a blame-placing narrative in which evil conservatives unite to block some sort of phony legislative deus ex machina. Which makes me wonder: Were Ed and I wrong that the GOP should attend no matter what? I think showing up and calling Obama out on this charade is more effective than a boycott, but I’m open to persuasion. Dazzle me.
Bear this in mind, though, if you’re counting on some sort of further public backlash over O-Care and the Democrats’ tactics. According to PPP, the vast majority of people opposed to the Dems’ health-care bills have already made up their minds not to vote for them in November. They’ve taken most of the hit that they’re going to take from this, in other words. In which case, why not cowboy up and go ahead with reconciliation? If you’re going to screw the public, might as well screw ’em hard.