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All year -- literally all year -- we've know the difference better a good bill and a bad bill would come down to who had the leverage going into Conference Committee.

Unfortunately, too many Democrats have decided to cave before Conference is even named.

So Rules Chair Louise Slaughter decided to put on a little demonstration of Political Negotiation 101 for all the WATB who are turning and running at the key moment in negotiations.

Representative Slaughter took to CNN with an op-ed designed to get the path to a good bill back on track. This, ladies and gentleman, is how you negotiate:

The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago.

Even though the House version is far from perfect, it at least represents a step toward our goal of giving 36 million Americans decent health coverage.

But under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. Is it any surprise that stock prices for some of those insurers are up recently?

I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform.

One branch of our bicameral legislature has included a public option. One branch removed it from Senator Ted Kennedy's HELP Committee bill. Whether it makes the final legislation will be determined in conference. Here's Slaughter showing how you go into that debate:

By eliminating the public option, the government program that could spark competition within the health insurance industry, the Senate has ended up with a bill that isn't worthy of its support.

The public option is the part of our reform effort that will lower costs, improve the delivery of health care services and force insurance companies to offer rates and services that are reasonable.

Although the art of legislating involves compromise, I believe the Senate went off the rails when it agreed with the Obama Administration to water down the reform bill and no longer include the public option.

But does she stop there? NO! Here next line is, "But that's not the only thing wrong with the Senate's version of the health care bill."

And she goes on. Go read the whole thing.

Thanks Chair Slaughter for showing how to negotiate with self respect instead of caving to our enemies.

Originally posted to blogswarm on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 11:49 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That's how it's done (12+ / 0-)

    and more progressives need to do this.

    I work full-time with the FDL team on health reform thanks to your donations.

    by slinkerwink on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 11:50:54 AM PST

    •  I think there is a meta-movement in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      This will harden the movement a bit, and there will be some angst over that.

      When it passes, we will have come of age and it's about time.

      IMHO, the "we got something, now pass it" mindset is a product of the last 10 fairly brutal years.  It takes some success and forward momentum and support to shake that, and I see that happening on a bigger scale than I am used to seeing.



      by potatohead on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:02:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would like that window moved to the left. (11+ / 0-)

    More......more.......more.......okay okay, just a wee little bit back to the right.  That is how is supposed to go.
    It should be a progressive bill with some window dressing for conservatives instead of the reverse.

    •  Don't worry. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oysterface, blogswarm, Nailbanger

      Reasctionary Rethugs recall with reverence the bad old days when Southern Democrats controlled the House Rules Committee and put a chokehold on progressive legislation singlehandedly.  They realize that if they ever want to get anything through Congress, they had better not mess with the Chairman of the House Rules Committee!

  •  "The Senate Went Off the Rails" (8+ / 0-)

    That's gonna leave a mark.

    Does anyone believe a senior member of Speaker Pelosi's leadership team would take this step without the full knowledge, concurrence and approval of the Speaker?

    This is a major move.  And an excellent one indeed.

  •  How does she know how to negotiate? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherijr, eXtina, clubbing guy

    She knows how to go on CNN.  How does that change the game?  Let's say in the end she opposes the bill.  Ok ... there's at least one BlueDog that now supports it.

    Again, why does she know how to negotiate?

    Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

    by fou on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:00:02 PM PST

    •  she's playing all four quarters of the game (5+ / 0-)

      As was pointed out above, senior members of leadership don't just up and make a move like this without the Speaker. And Slaughter's perch Chairing rules means she can screw over any and every Blue Dog's pet piece of legislation.

      This is why you don't surrender just when things are heating up, because dynamics change and they changed a great deal today.

      •  Ok (0+ / 0-)

        So you're saying that a BlueDog would realistically vote against an historic piece of legislation that has just been made more palatable because Louise Slaughter will fuck with their legislation?  Then why wasn't she able to corral their votes with the first piece of legislation?

        She's more likely blowing smoke and seeing what she can get.  Maxine Waters did the same thing on Olbermann a few days ago.

        Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

        by fou on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:15:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maxine Waters was nothing like this (0+ / 0-)

          I saw that interview, she never went beyond saying things like, "some of us" and hedged nine ways. If anything, Maxine's interview could be used as the exact example of the opposite of Slaughter's move when it comes to negotiation.

          This is a major throw-down by the chair of the only committee that every pet bill must visit. Big deal in leadership's approach to conference.

          •  Ok, but again I ask (0+ / 0-)

            if she's a powerful as you say she is, why couldn't she sway BlueDogs to begin with?

            Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

            by fou on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:21:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Negotiation 101 (0+ / 0-)

              This is just now heating up. Everyone always knew it was about the dynamics going into conference.

              It didn't matter if the House bill passed with more Blue Dogs, it passed and would be blended with the senate.

              Slaughter is playing her cards perfectly. Absolutely perfectly.

              •  How can she improve the bill (0+ / 0-)

                without killing it?  Is her aim to kill it or to improve it?  If her aim is to kill it, I'd say you're right.  If her aim is to improve it?  How does that happen?

                Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                by fou on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:42:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  shift burden to conservative dems (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Nobody has twisted their arms. If this looks like it will go via reconciliation, they'll start caving because that would cut them out of everything from now on.

                  Make Lieberman ambassador to Israel, special election rules mean with confirmation we could have a real dem and a good bill passed by Memorial Day.

                  Or, just do the smart thing and reject the crappy bill in the house and use it as the reason to take advantage of reconciliation.

                  By winning on policy, we win at the polls.  

                  •  Ok (0+ / 0-)

                    Reconciliation gets you nothing except in the minds of people who think it's an easy path around the filibuster.  

                    Reconciliation would require Congress to break up the bill and start again, effectively killing whatever political will is left to pass any kind of reform.

                    Reconciliation is an arcane process that I believe requires sixty votes at certain stages to advance the process.

                    Reconciliation would alienate key centrists whose support is required to pass the remainder of your agenda.

                    Whatever passes through reconciliation would sunset in five years.  In the case of the public option, it would sunset a year after it took effect.

                    What leverage does reconciliation get you?

                    Oba-MA bumaye! Oba-MA bumaye!

                    by fou on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:49:50 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  you have to be talking to someone when (0+ / 0-)

        you're negotiating. who is responding to her? no one. this is not negotiation.

    •  she going (0+ / 0-)

      for the other $700,000

      which is cool, a bit gamey but cool...

      "Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity- people with a slovenly biography - sadists, mental freaks, traitors." - ILYA EHRENBURG

      by durrati on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:06:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  erm.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    HOW does she intend to put the public option in the final bill in a way that would garner 60 votes in the senate??

  •  This is just like that idiotic ad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sherijr, eXtina

    that the MSM is picking up that basically says Obama is a liar.

    This isn't strong negotiating... this is eating your young and STUPID.

    It will accomplish nothing more than what could have been achieved in conference with Pelosi and Reid.

    All it does is echo the right wing talking points that we need to "scrap and start over".

    They (MSM and GOP) aren't going to detail why a DEMOCRAT thinks this sucks...

    It's just like Hamsher and her FoxNews escapade.

    Hatch went on the Senate Floor and quoted her at length.

    And all this "The Democrats suck"  "or bills suck" "our leader is a liar" is supposed to HELP?

    Good God.  I'm done.

    •  excellent (5+ / 0-)

      People who cave before the fight heats up are not just worthless, they are counterproductive.

      We are lucky to have Slaughter leading in a way that gets us back on track.

      •  This is counter-productive and harmful (0+ / 0-)

        The "Fight" is over.

        The two bills exist.  

        The areas of disagreement are known.  

        The leverage points are known.

        The challenges to reconcile the bills are known.

        Pelosi and Reid probably know within a few dollars here and a few tweaks there, what is and isn't possible based on the make-up of their caucuses.

        This isn't negotiating.  Or fighting the good fight.

        This is eating your young.  Giving a hammer to the opposition.  And confusing to the Public, who don't pay close attention to the inside baseball stuff like you and I.

        Absolutely stupid and counterproductive.

        This op-ed will not move the needle on the items listed above any further than they would have already gone.

        Again, the "Fight" is over.

        •  fight is just starting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You sound like Lieberman telling Gore to throw in the towel.

          Conference hasn't even begun. From the start, the best path for Democrats in the midterms has been to use reconciliation which only goes into play if the House rejects the crappy senate bill.

          Louise Slaughter has better political instincts in her pinky-toenail than you seem ever hope to have.

          •  Good grief. (0+ / 0-)

            If you want to see how it's done... especially in a polarized and toxic environment where public opinion and messaging is not currently on your side, please see John Conyers' Statement.

            That was a negotiator.  And a master politician.

            Slaughter is amateur hour.

            •  Public Opinion is on Slaughter's side (0+ / 0-)

              Public opinion is against the senate bill because it is crappy. Public opinion is in favor of what Slaughter is fighting for. That's why Obama was for the same things in his campaign -- because they are popular and that's how you win campaigns.

              If you want to lose in 2010, you pass the unpopular, crappy senate bill. If you want to win, you don't give up on the midterm elections by caving to the senate now, you fight for a good bill candidates want to run on instead of run from.

              •  And at the least, if that lousy bill passes (0+ / 0-)

                Progressives absolutely won't own it.

                This matters a great deal.

                When the people find out they are hosed, they are going to want to know WHO did it.

                That's not going to be us.  We will have gone to the mat for equitable and favorable legislation.

                The Coin Operated Dems won't be able to say that, and we can run on that, build our numbers, and survive and grow.  They will lose support and numbers and that's very, very expensive.

                It's even more expensive, given they can punt on this, push back on their corporate sponsors and cite the same line they gave to us; namely, "it's simply not possible".

                All of the framing and posturing we are seeing from the Senate and Coin Operated Democrats is about getting us to own it by backing down.  They know if bad legislation passes, and all the Dems were unified on it, all the Dems are accountable for it, and must work to pay the cost of it, while they profit from it.

                On the other hand, if we are clear about the difference between a Progressive Democrat, and Coin Operated Democrats, they can be singled out for bad legislation, and we have the capability to do that now, where we've not had it to the same degree before.

                That makes our position much more solid, in addition to it being solid on the merits alone.

                They can never, ever say that, and that's advantage us.

                Earlier, we've not had the numbers, nor the media, nor the infrastructure to make them pay that cost of ownership.

                I think we are finding out that now we do!  This means the movement has come of age, and I know I've said that a lot, but it really is true.

                In my political life, I've not seen ANY Progressive legislation go through without serious concessions.  Most of it has been on minor issues, or lip service with issues.

                Each time I read those of us, who said, "keep it up", growing the movement, doing the advocacy, and building the machine.

                This push right now, this struggle within our movement is all about those of us, who can see the dynamic and know that a win here changes things going forward, and those of us still in the older mindset.

                If we stand our ground, and we get cost control, for example, that means the following things are true:

                1.  They need us now, period.
                1.  We can hang together as a caucus, movement, etc...
                1.  Those things earn us a seat at the table as refulsing to deal with us costs them.  Truth is it always costs, but it just didn't cost that much to shine us on, leaving us out.

                Now, if we stand here, with our House Progressive bloc, they are forced to:

                a.  Go find Republicans to pass something without us, and that won't be cheap politically.  The GOP will be drooling over that opportunity.

                b.  Convince us we are wrong, or divide us to the point where we are weak and unable to make them OWN BAD LEGISLATION

                c.  Recognize we have a seat at the table, and deal with us as peers

                d.  Force the bill to fail.

                Option a is off the table big.  Should be obvious why, and all I will say is we can absolutely hang that around their neck, and it will weigh heavy.

                Option b is what they are doing right fucking now!!  Ignore this, push, stand firm, and know there is a risk of failure, but that we absolutely will not own that failure because we are not the obstructionists forcing corporate largess onto people.

                Option c is our goal.  If we get something we want, and it passes, we move from a force to a success, and that's the coming of age we need so badly right now.  Going into next year, that means we can no longer be ignored and that changes everything in Washington next year.  That is what we did the work for, and the time is now to capture it!!

                Option d could happen, but we won't own it.  Obama won't allow it because that COSTS HIM, and when he looks at who is pushing for what, we have the higher ground.  They will get the worse end of that.

                On the other hand, if we:

                a.  settle, then we are not mature enough to be seated at that table.  Too young, not of age, not a peer.  Next year that agenda won't see our influence because they know a really hard push will break us, so they will just do that over and over and over and we lose.

                (think school yard bully dynamics)

                b.  scuttle the bill, without being reasonable (single payer or nothing), we are immature there too, not realistic, and thus not to be taken seriously.  We would own that failure, and pay the price for it in the elections to come.

                c.  push with an equitable position, and make it clear they need us, then we have a very good chance at being recognized, and that's golden for all the reasons I just gave.

                Finally, if we do get something, we push anyway.  Why?  Because it's just not good enough, that's why.  Say they go huge on cost control and let us have our way.  Great!  Now, about that unreasonable abortion language...

                Again, we have the higher ground here.  We are not trying to turn health care insurance reform into a SCOTUS Row v Wade challenge, are we?  No.  So back the hell off and let's pass health care...

                And so it goes, until we see EQUITABLE legislation.

                That is what we must be doing going forward.  Equitable means we won't get everything.  Nobody does.  But it does mean we are tired of getting fucked on the major legislative elements.


                by potatohead on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:24:59 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  I saw on MSNBC this morning that Obama (0+ / 0-)

    said the Senate contains 95% of what he wanted in a health insurance bill. So what is Ms. Slaughter taking about? It sounds like she wants more than just another 5%.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning.

    by hestal on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:04:25 PM PST

  •  Here, I'll write the ad for you... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Cue music...

    Clips of the Obama Liar Ad...

    Quote from hamsher...

    Quote from Slaughter...

    Quote from Dean...

    "Even Democrats think this bill is terrible".

    Slaughter is an idiot.

    At least Conyers knew how to publicly play the negotiating game.

    This is just amateur hour and hurts the Cause and the Party.  Big D - Democrat.

    •  Slaughter is trying to save us in the midterms (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eugene, TiaRachel

      The problem isn't that people are saying the senate bill is bad, the problem is that it is actually a really crappy bill.

      If we pass a good bill, we'll be in far better shape in November. If we pass a crappy bill we are FUBAR. Slaughter is being the ultimate Big D - Democrat by getting things back on track so we don't get destroyed in the midterms (and beyond).

      •  I will agree to disagree with you (0+ / 0-)

        that this is a crappy bill.  That's neither here nor there.

        You have a false predicate, however.

        We will not be able to pass anything with a Public Option, or anything that isn't just a hair more "progressive" on costs and coverage than what's in the Senate Bill.

        The "Fight" is over.

        It's either a very slightly modified (strengthened in costs and coverage) Senate Bill or nothing for the next 10-15 years.

        All the rest is just public posturing and harmful to the Big D Cause and Party as a whole.

        •  best thing for Big D Cause (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alien Abductee

          The smart scenario is to use reconciliation to pass a good bill in the spring. The even better scenario is to use reconciliation to pass a great bill in the summer. The all time best scenario is to pass a fabulous bill in the early fall.

          That's how you pick up seats. Caving now for a crappy bill is how you get destroyed.

        •  Look at it as a continuum. (0+ / 0-)

          Let's say for the sake of argument that this line represents the spectrum of possible health care bills:

          Best +-------------------------------------------+ Worst

          Pick your point on the line, it doesn't really matter.

          If Slaughter's actions move that point even slightly to the left, then it's useful.

          •  The problem, Samer (0+ / 0-)

            Is that she's trying to pick a spot that's FARTHER out than the endpoints.

            Your phrase "spectrum of possible health care bills" is the key.

            Her stance is a non-starter.  

            And her language and phrases used to describe the Senate Bill are effectively saying that the bill passed by the Senate doesn't even DESERVE to be considered on, or in, the spectrum of possible options.

            That's eating your young, and setting up a circular firing squad.

  •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blogswarm, OHdog

    Everyone knows that the House will eat some version of this bill. But the question is what concessions the Senate will make in the meantime.

    If you broadcast that you're going to fold in advance, you'll get little or nothing.

    Negotiation 101, indeed.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:20:11 PM PST

  •  How is this negotiation? (0+ / 0-)

    who is she negotiating with? she states her position, it doesn't put the ball in anyone's court. what leverage does she have?

  •  Here's Slaughter's Problem (0+ / 0-)

    She's trying to recast the playing field when the markers and POSSIBLE boundaries have already been laid down.

    Anybody who has ever negotiated something in their life knows that isn't going to work.

    Especially when your stated position undermines the rest of your team's arguments for playing the game.

  •  The comments here are ridiculous (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blogswarm, Dirtandiron

    Negotiating involves not accepting arbitrary definitions of "reality" set by the other side. If the boss says "realistically, we only have $1 million for wage increases this year" but you know they cleared $10 million in profit, you know they're bullshitting you. And if you knew that but only accepted $1 million and brought that to the union meeting, you'd be taken out back behind the union hall and beaten with tire irons, deservedly so.

    People here aren't talking about "negotiation," they're talking about surrender. Slaughter is showing how it's done, but the timid and the weak are all up in arms that someone is daring to stand up and say "no, you don't quit before the clock stops."


    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:25:11 PM PST

  •  This is big (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Louise Slaughter is Chair of the frigging House Rules Committee.

    We can all learn from her.

    That goes for the people who want to cave, and accept the Senate bill.

    That also goes for the people who just want to kill the Senate bill, and offer no game plan for the aftermath.

    Let's fix this bill.  Slaughter, Grijalva, Woolsey and Sanders can lead the way.  But we must get on the same page, and move beyond our silly little infighting.

    We are making history.

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