Andrea Mitchell asked a Villager health-care panel on her show today to discuss how Harry Reid can get to 60 votes with the public option since the "Gang of Four" refuses to budge and threatens to kill health-care reform entirely.
Mitchell: And Ruth Marcus, what do they do, how do they water down the public option to make it acceptable to some of the moderates but placate some of the more liberals?
Marcus: Well, it's the "and still placate some of the more liberals" is the hardest part. You're dealing with a very complex Rubik's cube really at this point because every time you change something to please someone, you're annoying someone else and potentially losing his or her vote.
But the public option, I think, could be scaled back. There is already something that Sen. Carper from Delaware is working on in terms of allowing it to take effect perhaps more quickly in states or immediately in states which have very high costs and other states could opt in. There is Sen. Snowe's old trigger option that one could still pull the trigger on, so there are ways of doing it.
I think that in the end it is possible to mollify enough of the centrist Democrats, perhaps even a Republican -- now that seems awfully remote. The president, I think, is going to have to tell the left wing of his party and the balking liberal Senators that it is crazy to pull down the entirety of health care over this one issue which the president has already said is not the be all end all of health reform.
It's always the liberals who need to compromise their positions to the conventional wisdom of the Villagers. The Gang of Four are all righteous and virtuous while liberals are out-of-control hippies who act like barking dogs. How dare they want to produce a real reform measure that could eventually provide true competition for the health care industry and that will help lower overall health care costs? Outrageous!
Remember, Marcus was being a concern troll the day after America elected Obama to the presidency with a mandate to overhaul health care and wrote a column telling him to not to govern from the left.
Yet the experience of President Bill Clinton's rocky early months -- remember gays in the military? the BTU tax? -- suggests the steep political price of governing in a way that is, or seems, skewed to the left. This risk is particularly acute for Obama, whose opponents have painted him as a leftist extremist. The good news is that his advisers seem exquisitely aware of this trap and determined not to fall into it.
The standard lie about Clinton's failures aside (it was NAFTA, stupid), the last sentence is particularly odd. Obama's "opponents have painted him as a leftist extremist." Yet, that supposed "leftist extremist" won the largest presidential mandate in the last generation.
And somehow, having done that, we are supposed to believe that means he should tack to the right.
Email Marcus and ask her why the Gang of Four aren't the real problem, since 56 other Senators are fine with the public option: firstname.lastname@example.org