Well, I know what I’ll be listening to as I draw tomorrow. Use this thread to meet all your Health Care Policy Discussion posting needs.
I think these paragraphs from Newsweek explain why it’s unlikely that the big health care summit will lead to a bill that both parties will vote for:
Writing in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, Gerald Seib made an observation about tomorrow’s health-care summit that I think is critical to understanding the proceedings. “The first is that the most basic predicate for success in any negotiation—that both sides, at the outset, think reaching an agreement is preferable to failing to reach an agreement—doesn’t exist here,” he wrote. In negotiation parlance, they call that a BATNA: the best alternative to a negotiated agreement. To figure out how your opponents will act, you need to understand the outcome they envision if the negotiation fails—that is, at what point can they happily walk away. The Democrats’ BATNA is that they continue along the path they’ve been heading: have the House pass the Senate bill and make fixes like those the White House offered on Monday through the budget-reconciliation process in the Senate, where they will need only 51 votes.
The Republican BATNA is that health-care reform fails. The summit doesn’t sway any of their members or any of those Democrats who have been hedging their bets, and the bill just limps toward death. More important, it’s not clear that they’d prefer a negotiated outcome to their BATNA. If they successfully negotiate for the inclusion of some of their signature items—say, for example, medical-malpractice reform—they might feel compelled to vote in favor of reform. That hands the president and his congressional allies an enormous win and undermines their yearlong project of attacking Democratic reform initiatives. They can’t vote for what they’ve spent months calling a “government takeover of health care” and then continue promoting their “Obama is a crazy liberal” narrative. No agreement would seem their preferred outcome. This is not a good-faith negotiation.
This seems like a good moment for me to reprint this old strip. With luck, maybe the strip will be obsolete in a few years. It could happen!