Revisiting Cassidy Collins

On Sunday, Politico reported that there are back-channel discussions in the Senate on healthcare between Democrats and Republicans.

Cassidy’s and Collins’ efforts haven’t limited their talks to the handful of red-state Democrats whom the GOP once eyed as possible converts on health care. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), for one, spoke to Cassidy in March about the Republican’s efforts and praised him for the outreach.

“Sooner rather than later, we’ll return to those discussions,” Carper said.

In addition to Kaine and Carper, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) have spoken with Republicans in general terms about health care recently, according to several people familiar with the matter. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a leading figure in the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare, has also talked with Democrats including Kaine,

If the skeleton of discussion is Cassidy-Collins, then quiet talks to shape future talks make sense for Democrats in my opinion. As I see it the outcome tree for Democrats to engage on a Cassidy-Collins like discussion look like the chart below:

Not engaging is an all or nothing bet that values politics of playing for a massive wave in 2018 and a trifecta in 2020 to correct the policy damage. If a bill that can get 50 Republican Senators and the Vice President to vote for it gets out of the Senate, it will get out of the House. It will be less bad than the AHCA but it will be very bad from a Democratic policy perspective.

Engagement either leads to burning Senate time if there is no productive grounds for a deal which is a good in and of itself in a normal legislative environment and extremely valuable in today’s climate or a deal that cements the federal role in healthcare where the argument is over which dial to turn and how far to turn it. That returns healthcare to normal politics and cements a massive ideological victory for liberalism bought at the cost of a tactical policy retreat and giving up the ability for Democrats to use healthcare as a board with a nail on it to beat up on Republicans in the 2018 midterms.

Cassidy-Collins is fundamentally a healthcare bill.  I am still scratching my head at how to make auto-enrollment work with deductibles for a single individual under $10,000 but it is a healthcare bill.  The AHCA is a tax cut bill with massive Medicaid cuts attached to it.

A few cups of coffee to see if there is a plausible agreement zone by both conservative Democrats in vulnerable seats and Senators who liberals can trust as policy validaters are worth drinking.

15 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Collins and Cassidy will cave when the conference bill looks more like the House Bill.

  2. 2
    jacy says:

    I’m all for anything that burns time. Things are very unpredictable right now.

  3. 3
    rikyrah says:

    I don’t trust Collins.
    Never will 😒😒😒

  4. 4
    Hunter Gathers says:

    I’d sooner eat a KFC bucket of my own shit than work with the enablers of traitors. Cassidy’s a fucking moron to boot and Collins is the type of sub-human garbage who will tell you all about her ‘concerns’ before she rapes you with a rusty piece of rebar.

  5. 5
    p.a. says:

    In the House, Rethug ‘moderates’, ‘vulnerables’ always cave. In the Senate, ?. So it will be a ‘waste of time benefit’. Wildcard: President Bink’s reaction when a rightist advisor prompts him with “Senators X, Y, Z are stabbing you in the back.”

  6. 6
    Earl says:

    I have to admit I’m having trouble caring that much.

    I just read a (horrifying) Washington Post article about the lack of access to dental care in the us

    The reporter made sure to profile a Trump supporter.

    The fact is, we Democrats broke our congressional majority to give another 20-ish million people health insurance. We could have won the 2016 election with votes from (ignoring state distribution, but the newly insured probably skewed poor / more likely to be in areas we lost) perhaps 1-2% of the newly insured.

    So look, we gave you health insurance and that wasn’t worth a vote, either because they’re racist garbage or couldn’t get off their asses. Yeah, I’m not feeling so bad about the prospect of them losing what they voted not to have.

  7. 7
    weaselone says:

    Isn’t that special. The communications are back channel, because Democrats have been completely cut off from contributing directly to the ACHA alternative under discussion in the Senate.

    I’d also like to note, that the entire point of this exercise in immoral stupidity is to cut $800+ billion from Medicare and deliver a $800+ billion tax cut to people making over $500K per year over the next five years. I don’t see the Senate compromising on that, so I don’t see how Democrats could make a deal.

  8. 8
    dr. bloor says:

    Those four possible outcomes, of course, aren’t weighted equally in terms of probability. I’d say the odds of something that offers 90-95% of ACA ending up on the Tangerine Ballsack’s desk for a signature are vanishingly small.

  9. 9

    @dr. bloor: Agreed, but there is a possibility of that outcome so a few cups of coffee are a worthwhile investment. The success path would look like the following:

    Trump needs a good news cylce or three. Cassidy-Collins with a technical comb-over is passed with 65 votes in the Senate. The House and Senate go to conference and pass Cassidy-Collins V2 with 65 votes in the Senate and 270 in the House (Dems supplying 120+ in the House) and Trump not caring about policy has a good news cycle or two.

    Or it burns time on a limited calendar

  10. 10
    Weaselone says:

    @David Anderson:

    Again. I just don’t see it happening. The Republican objective is to deliver a massive tax cut to the wealthy paid for by cutting Medicaid. This then sets them up to deliver another massive tax cut when they enact tax “reform”.

    I don’t see Republicans backing down on the tax cuts and I don’t see Democrats selling out Medicaid, so how does a deal get done that preserves 90-95% of the ACA?

  11. 11

    Your decision tree makes sense, but it neglects the fact that the great bulk of Republican Senators, including the leadership, very specifically want to be able to brag that the final bill got zero Democrat [sic] votes — even if that is why it didn’t pass.

  12. 12

    Also, too: it is not about the tax cuts for their own sake. It is about the revenue loss from the tax cuts as pretext for causing other kinds of harm.

  13. 13
    Mnemosyne says:

    I am also skeptical that talking to the Repubs will change the final bill much, but there is definitely value in slow-walking and generally gumming up the works as best we can. The Republicans in 2009 had no qualms about demanding a seat at the table and then voting as a block against the final bill, and we shouldn’t either.

  14. 14
    artem1s says:

    Time Burned. Most important part of that flow chart IMO. It means more time for the GOP axis of evil in the House to blow up and come unraveled. It means more people at risk of losing their jobs come 2018. It means more media for the good guys to get their plans and ideas out there. It means one more disastrous day for the GOP leadership to have to do damage control on behalf of the WH.
    time, time, time is on our side…
    yes it is

  15. 15
    Raoul says:

    Congrats @David for getting a Brian Beutler tweet link to this post!

    There is something to this, though I’d add some caveats.— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) May 16, 2017

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