Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 29, 2009

MIKE ENZI, CHUTZPAH KING.... Reports vary as to just how close the Senate Finance Committee's gang of six is to some kind of deal. I'm sure they'll get back to us at some point in the future.

More interesting, though, was a statement issued by Mike Enzi, the conservative Wyoming Republican who is participating in the six-member negotiations. After explaining that the Finance Committee still has a ways to go, Enzi explained his expectations about the future of the process.

Enzi said that Reid and Pelosi would have to commit to leaving any bipartisan agreements in place once the bill goes to conference.

"I also need commitments from Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi, as well as the Administration, that the bipartisan agreements reached in the Finance Committee will survive in a final bill that goes to the president," Enzi added.

Well, I'll gladly give Enzi credit for having chutzpah. But as a serious proposition, this is almost comical.

Look, five committees in two chambers are trying to pass health care reform. Each understands that after approving a bill, their committee's work will have to be reconciled with other committees' work, before eventually reconciling the House and Senate versions.

Enzi is saying that this isn't good enough. This conservative Republican "needs" a "commitment" from the Democratic White House, the Democratic House Speaker, and the Democratic Senate Majority Leader that all of them will leave intact the work he and five other senators worked out in secret. No changes allowed.

Perhaps Enzi is taking advantage of some kind of prescription drug benefit already, because only someone who's heavily medicated would think this makes sense.

Enzi's little club features just six senators -- no liberals, no senators representing urban areas -- who represent less than 3% of the U.S. population. The gang has already abandoned key policy priorities of the president, the majority party, and the public, and is putting the finishing work on an inadequate piece of legislation.

And Enzi expects -- indeed, he demands -- that no one touch his group's work once it's complete? Please.

Steve Benen 2:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

"No changes aloud" should be "No changes allowed."

Posted by: buffalonian on July 29, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I don't blame him for asking. Reid has proven he is completely spineless and as a result these are the type of demands that get made, because it is entirely plausable that Reid will roll over. And Obama, well he has already proven that he simply is not a leader which is why we are in situation where a bozo like Enzi thinks he can dictate to the majority.

Posted by: Napoleon on July 29, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Watch out, Enzi will stamp his little feet and hold his breath until he turns....blue!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon on July 29, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a question: How many GOP members in Congress are enrolled in the health benefits offered through the US Office of Personnel Management?

If they are so against government health care, wouldn't that mean each and every one has health insurance coverage through the free market, rather than the government subsidized program?

Posted by: Luther on July 29, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Watch the Democrats fold on that to be "bipartisan". After all, the Democrats only have 60 votes in the Senate, the House and the Presidency, so it's only fair that the GOP should get whatever they want. buffalonian in the comments is very correct. I really thought that after 2008, the Dems would have grown a spine, but they are as wimpy as ever.

Posted by: ga73 on July 29, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I have a proposition for Enzi: do something constructive and go fuck yourself.

Posted by: bdop4 on July 29, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans should be given the same consideration in conference committees that they extended to Democrats between 2001 and 2007. No more, no less. If I recall correctly, there were instances where Democrats were not part of conference committees during that time.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on July 29, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like the Republicans' health care reform plan is emerging from the Senate Finance Committee. If the Rupublicans in Congress were smart (they're not), they would tout this plan as opposed to saying "No" to any health care reform.

Posted by: Raymond on July 29, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Enzi is a voice in the chorus and not The Fat Lady.

The process will pass his partisanship by.

Posted by: dcrolg on July 29, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Would someone remind just who won the last two elections? So much for Republicans being straight-laced (As if anyone believes that anymore): there's at least one of them who is smoking crack.

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on July 29, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Enzi, like Cheney, knows that if you don't push, you don't get. Must be something in Wyoming water. Too bad we can't pipe some of it into other states, especially those which have supposedly Dem Senators.

Posted by: exlibra on July 29, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans have to leave enough wiggle room so that after that make the bill as bad as possible they can still vote against it en masse and then beat up the democrats for passing a crappy bill.

Posted by: paulo on July 29, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Enzi represents approximately 533,000 people, or 18.5% less than Illinois' 8th district, which has about 654,000 people.

Wyoming accounts for 0.17% of the total population of the United States, which ranks it dead last.

The District of Columbia has over 100,000 more residents than Wyoming. I wonder how their Senator feels about health insurance reform?

Posted by: doubtful on July 29, 2009 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's crazy, nutty, goofy and insane.

So naturally Pelosi and Reid will agree to these demands immediately.

Of course, Enzi is asking this because he knows that the GOP regularly rewrote entire bills in conference...

Posted by: Mary Contrary on July 29, 2009 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Enzi would say this.

A) Democracts are proving to be astoundingly spineless (or complicit in killing healthcare reform, take your pick), especially given their complete control of Washington.

B) Even if the Democrats do manage to grow a spine, Enzi knows he is voting against any healthcare bill NO MATTER WHAT. So giving these strict conditions on what he wants, he knows he'll have no trouble finding some reason to blame the Democrats for his two-faced double dealing come vote time. Because make no mistake about it, Enzi will be voting NO.

I don't understand why Democrats even listen to Republicans at all.

Mark my words: if a bill comes to the floor of the House and Senate, it will get less than 5 Republican votes in either chamber, quite possibly zero, no matter how bastardized it is to placate a minority whose voice does not matter.

(Note to Democratic elected officials: we are paying attention. We will know who to blame if you pass a bad bill.)

Posted by: Tim on July 29, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's time for Enzi to go hang out with wherever Senator Hatch has taken himself since he left the Senate Finance Committee negotiations.

No deal, Enzi.

Posted by: Amy on July 29, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

contrary to Steve and others who think Enzi is nuts, it looks to me like Enzi is one of the smarter R's. most of them are incapable of any learning. but Enzi got the lessons of the Bush era down: the more audatious the ask, the better. Bush lost to Gore and promptly governed as though he had an Obama-like margin. The downside of that to Bush was. . . um. . . exactly. It may say nothing but horrible things about Dems, about the system, about the public, about the morals of Republicans, but the fact is any coldly calculating Republican member of Congress would do exactly what Enzi is doing until such time as someone shows it doesn't work.

Posted by: zeitgeist on July 29, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Call me cynical, but this is part of their "pay back" for the money they took from the "Drug Cartel" and other 'contributors' in the Medical
Industrial Complex. If they can't deliver on their end they won't be able to join Billy Tausin in K Street heaven. His "chutzpah" is actually panic that his carefully negotiated package will never get delivered.

Posted by: robert on July 29, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Tim wrote: "Note to Democratic elected officials: we are paying attention. We will know who to blame if you pass a bad bill."

Well, that -- and matching the millions of dollars in bribes that the insurance, pharmaceutical, and other corporations that will profit from a "bad bill" have handed out to elected officials -- should really get their attention.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 29, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

He knows it won't happen he just wants a ready made excuse for opposing something on the floor that he nominally supported in committee. I can believe Reid might kow tow, but Pelosi, no, I think Pelosi is made out of sterner stuff.

Posted by: Barbara on July 29, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, call me Pollyanna, but I consider this a good sign. It tells me that the notion Jon Cohn and a few others have been suggesting over the past few days -- that the Baucus deal in Finance exists solely to get the bill past committee, and that Dems fully expect to liberalize the bill in conference (very much up to including the public option) -- is the reality (as opposed to, Oh, our spineless Dems have caved, it's all over -- the widely-heard lefty cry of the past few days). That Enzi feels the need to push for this laughably ballsy condition tells me he fears the same thing.

Of course, if Harry Reid agrees to it, I'll join others in despair. But I don't see it.

Posted by: demtom on July 29, 2009 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist wrote: Well, that -- and matching the millions of dollars in bribes that the insurance, pharmaceutical, and other corporations that will profit from a "bad bill" have handed out to elected officials -- should really get their attention.

What, your not a multi-billionaire? Oh, me either.

Didn't say I was optimistic.

Posted by: Tim on July 29, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Would the Senator from the great state of Wyoming be so kind as to outline the contribution this committee finds so compelling to remain as a whole for the greater good? Yes, the one that has all the sponsors and their contributions listed on the back.

and what bdop4 said @ 2:44

Posted by: Kevin on July 29, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think someone need to send Enzi's terrible healthcare bill "Ten Steps" (that blew the budget out of the water according to the Commonwealth Fund's analysis) over to the CBO for scoring ust so we can establish who is full of shit and who is not.

Posted by: flounder on July 29, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think anyone that values their health and sanity should "touch" Sen. Enzi's. Not without 6 foot tongs, a lead-lined biohazard suit, welding goggles and a full-face gas mask.

I hear that Yucca Mountain has just the place for such "plans", so that they can be kept in splended isolation for, oh, 10000 years or so. By then, perhaps the stench will have worn off.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on July 29, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Grr...touch Sen. Enzi's *legislation*.

Don't touch him either, really, ewwww.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on July 29, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Carpet: Republicans should be given the same consideration in conference committees that they extended to Democrats between 2001 and 2007. No more, no less. If I recall correctly, there were instances where Democrats were not part of conference committees during that time.

A good idea if the Dems are as confident (arrogant?) now as the Reps were then. But the result was that the Reps lost majorities in both houses of Congress and then lost the Presidency.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on July 29, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

A good idea if the Dems are as confident (arrogant?) now as the Reps were then. But the result was that the Reps lost majorities in both houses of Congress and then lost the Presidency.

Thanks for your concern. Not that I'm proposing that we repeat the procedural crimes of the pre-2007 Congress, but you seem to be confused about what diselected the Republicans. The average voter, not being a devotee of political blogs and never hearing squat about it via the MSM, has zero idea of how the GOP abused its majority. Voters are, however, well aware of the disastrous results of recent Republican legislation. They're living it.

Posted by: shortstop on July 29, 2009 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK
...no senators representing urban areas

This is getting out-of-hand. Bingaman represents New Mexico and the Albuquerque metropolitan area is a bit under a million people. Since when is that not urban?

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on July 29, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Pence just came out and said for the bill to be 'bipartisan' it needed ALL the conservative arguments in it.

YEAH...or I won't VOTE for it...OK big boy, stamp your feet!!!

Posted by: SYSPROG on July 29, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

F* him, everybody in his little clique and the horse he rode in on.

Posted by: VaLiberal on July 29, 2009 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

This Wyoming cave dweller has no concept of the needs of the majority in this nation. His world view is no larger than running a cattle ranch yet he demands the entire nation cater to his insight.

Egomaniac authoritarian pet senator got too much grain from his lobbyist feeder. Amazing that such highly paid goobers can make such stupid comments and not know they are stupid comments. Guess we know what we can expect from such caring players...my way is the only way and I demand you all agree.

Posted by: bjobotts on July 29, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone else has been discussing their ideas and legislation and deals in public. Those are pretty easy to accept and lock in.

What are we to think of a committee that works in private?

I think for any kind of sealed deal to occur there would have to AT LEAST be a meeting of the committee with House & Senate leaders and White House (either Pres. or reps) where everyone agrees.

I don't think you get anybody to agree to a deal without showing them what it is they're agreeing to.

That said, I think this kind of political deal-making is quite acceptable for this kind of legislation. I don't think anybody wants a conference committee to have much freedom to change things after everyone else has put so much work into their products.

Posted by: MarkH on July 29, 2009 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: Thanks for your concern.

It is not my concern, it is a concern of the Democrats who are vacillating about health care reform.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on July 29, 2009 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK


It is not my concern, it is a concern of the Democrats who are vacillating about health care reform.

Now, this is a beautiful piece of Marlering. Note the arc of the moving argument wholly unaccompanied by acknowledgment of the other person's correction. First: the warning that Dems acting as a bully majority will get them voted out "just as it did the Repubs." After a reminder that was actually the GOP's legislative agenda that so unendeared them to the American people, a shot back from Marler attacking the Dems' vacillation.

He goes from criticizing the Dems' potential rigidity to elbowing them for their lack of stick-to-itiveness without even taking a breath in between. Classic Matthew.

Posted by: shortstop on July 30, 2009 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats unite & make the societal improvements we won the election for. Baucus out - Rockefeller in.

Posted by: I live in Wyoming on August 3, 2009 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK
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