The Blog

Kristol: Reid Doesn't Have 60

9:46 AM, Dec 9, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The much hyped (if utterly incoherent) deal that Harry Reid is touting doesn't look as if it's doing the trick -- the trick being to cobble together anything (and I mean anything) that can get 60 votes in the Senate, introduce it as a manager's amendment later this week, and jam it through. And then (perhaps) simply take that bill up in the House and shove it through there so there's no need for a conference.

This depends on creating a sense of inevitability this week -- which in turn depends on giving enough to all the demurring Democrats (an abortion fig leaf for Nelson, no public option for Lieberman) so it would be hard for those who know better to hold out against the pressure.

Lieberman seems to be holding out (see his just-released statement below). He's (in effect) insisting on a CBO review, reiterating his opposition to "any" public option, including one with a trigger, and raises a cautionary flag about the Medicare buy-in.

Lieberman's statement denies Reid his sense of inevitability -- and once this new plan can be analyzed by CBO and others, and once it's forced (as any such major piece of legislation should of course be forced) to actually undergo some serious scrutiny, it could all fall apart

Reid tried to throw a Hail Mary. It looks as if Lieberman has broken up the pass.

But there will be more Hail Mary's to come -- and a massive assault from the left on the principled and responsible Lieberman.


"I am encouraged by the progress toward a consensus on proposals to send to the Congressional Budget Office to review. I believe that it is important to pass legislation that expands access to the millions who do not have coverage, improves quality and lowers costs while not impeding our economic recovery or increasing the debt.

"My opposition to a government-run insurance option, including any option with a trigger, has been clear for months and remains my position today.

"Regarding the ‘Medicare buy-in' proposal that is being discussed, we must remain vigilant about protecting and extending the solvency of the program, which is now in a perilous financial condition.

"It is my understanding that at this point there is no legislative language so I look forward to analyzing the details of the plan and reviewing analysis from the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of the Actuary in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid."