Brian Beutler has an interesting piece today over at TPM, suggesting that while Republicans might be promising to be even more obstructive in light of health care reform, they are actually looking to make a deal:
[T]here are some signs that Republicans are beginning to question whether it’s the brightest idea to let Democrats own this issue–and paint the GOP into a corner with the unpopular financial sector. Last week, after Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd advanced a Dem-only bill, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)–the committee’s ranking member–came back to the table for the third time in the past several months.
This is good news, but it seems to me that the key issue for the Democrats will be getting the bill to Conference, which was the initial strategy on health care reform.
Many observers are not satisfied with Dodd’s current draft, and it figures to be watered down significantly by Senate Republicans. But what will happen if and when the Senate bill meets up with Barney Frank’s significantly stronger House version in Conference? You can’t filibuster inside the Conference itself: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Conference bill comes out quite strong. After all, progressive Dems had a massive incentive to make concessions on health care, but as The Shrill One has pointed out, a bad bill is worse than no bill.
And that will apply if and when a stronger bill comes back to the Senate as a Conference Report. If the Senate Republicans threaten to filibuster it, then they will be back precisely where they do not want to be — with the financial industry and the big banks hung around their neck. And that will be precisely where President Obama and Congressional Democrats will want them to be during the campaign.
So I suspect that Dodd will make a lot of concessions to get a bill out of the Senate, and then gladly take the stronger measures of the House bill in Conference, daring the Senate Republicans to filibuster it.
At least that will be the strategy. We’ll see. That was the strategy on health care, and we all saw how that went. But this is a new year, and a different issue.