Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting To Work?

I defer to Ezra Klein on the health care policy nitty gritty. But I'm not sure I share his analysis of the significance of the Collins-Wyden amendments. And I definitely don't agree with his intimation that Collins has done anything especially praiseworthy here.

To back up for a moment: What seems to have happened last week, in essence, is that the junior senator agreed to support Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) smart, sound amendment as long as he supports her bad-but-not terrible amendment. (That probably oversimplifies the the terms of the agreement. But from what I've read, that does seem to be the jist of it.)

Meanwhile, Collins is still declining to say much of anything nice about the legislation; and she isn't specifying what changes she would need to get on board.

When you take that context together with Collins' history--and in particular, her recent displays of outright cynicism on the subject of health care--it seems far less obvious that what she's engaged in is a good faith effort to strengthen the bill.

Sure, Collins could have had an eleventh hour epiphany and decided, suddenly, to be constructive. But based on what we've seen to date, her goal could just as easily be to dilute the bill to make it less effective; or to nudge the bill to the right for ideological reasons; or to it revise it in ways that will make it harder to pass.

She's entitled to do those sorts of things, of course. And all things being equal, that kind of horse trading, back-and-forth and gamesmanship should probably be encouraged.

But I'm not sure it deserves to be praised. At least not unless it both improves the legislation and helps it get passed.

And it's simply to early to draw any conclusions about that.

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