Here’s something I think you can give Jane Hamsher some credit for:
“There’s no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option,” Pelosi said during a press conference Thursday in San Francisco, according to Bloomberg News.
On the other hand, I think Harry Reid could say the exact opposite: that there is no way he can pass a bill in the Senate with a public option. But the advantage in this standoff goes, ironically, to the House. Why? Because Reid can use the budget reconciliation process if it comes to that, while Pelosi has no parliamentary tricks to pull out of a hat to change her situation.
Now, I want to make a few comments about White House messaging. Obama has come under withering attack lately, but I want you to consider something. Yes, it has become painfully obvious that there is no point in pretending that negotiations with Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi, and Olympia Snowe are going to bear fruit. Asserting otherwise is a bit insulting to our intelligence. But, what does that mean?
It means that sometime in September, the Senate Finance Committee is going to have to declare the effort at bipartisan cooperation dead. And then the big argument is going to be over whom to blame for that outcome. If the president has been asserting all through the summer that he wants to work across the aisle and has even allowed for a painful delay in furtherance of that effort, then it will be easy to pin the blame on a Republican Party that remained unified in opposition. They didn’t just oppose the public option, but they opposed the compromise co-ops plan as well.
But, if we come out of Labor Day with the White House declaring the effort at bipartisanship already dead, then people who weren’t paying attention during the summer months will be easily convinced that Obama never gave compromise a chance. Andy Card famously said about the ramp up to war in Iraq that ‘you don’t roll out a new product in August.’ And that’s true.
If we know that we are headed for a split-bill with the financing coming through the budget reconciliation process, that’s a new product. And that new product needs to be seen as something only made necessary by Republican obstruction. It is premature for the White House to declare bipartisanship as dead. It might help them win some lonely late-August news cycles, but nothing is going to be resolved now. The real money-time is going to be in September. So, don’t worry, relax, have a home brew.