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How did Terry Branstad do it?

(A lot of good points in here. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

This diary is actually a response to a desmoinesdem post earlier today.  I was going to make a comment, but my response was more robust, so here are my two cents that attempts to answer the burning question:

How did former Governor Terry Branstad avoid a Tea-Party challenger, when so many other Republicans around the U.S. have not?

Let’s be clear.  Everyone knows that Terry Branstad was not a pure conservative while he was governor of Iowa.  However, this year we have seen several candidates who were challenged from the right because many believed that they were not conservative enough, whether it be Charlie Crist in Florida, or Senator Bob Bennett in Utah.  To be clear, this is happening on the Democratic side too (i.e. Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania), so this is not only one party’s quest for purity.  However, this post is about the GOP.

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Some Health Care Thoughts

I was going to comment on desmoinesdem's snow link story, but I decided to write my first diary instead…here she is:

Many on the left might be feeling depressed right now.  After all, this filibuster proof majority in the Senate is not really helping that much, and health care is seemingly being excessively watered down.

However, Democrats should not be overly depressed.  They have effectively shut down the voices of the Republican Party in Washington, save Olympia Snowe.  Isn't that what the supermajorities were all about?

Furthermore, according to President Obama, the public option is not everything.  I know many folks believe that it is, but there are many reforms in this bill that, if voted on by themselves, would easily receive over 80 votes in the Senate (i.e. they're popular and good policy).  Plus, if a bill does pass before the State of the Union address, even a sub-par one, President Obama can use that platform to boast, and tell us all about the wondrous portions of the health care reform that the Democrats alone passed through Congress.

I'm sure it'll be quite a speech.

As for the public option, moderate Democrats are quite the thorn in the side of the Democratic leadership.  It's kind of a Catch-22, though, as we can see in the following conversation:


Senator Lieberman: “The public option is a huge deal!”

President Obama:  “Look, Joe, the public option is only a small part of reform.  As such, if it's such a small portion of reform, why would you sink all of health care just to stop the public option?”

Lieberman: “Oh…it's only a small part of reform?”

Obama: “Yes…didn't you hear my speeches over the last 3 months?”

Lieberman: “Great…so if we get rid of the public option, it really won't harm reform that much…after all, it's only a small part of reform.”


Moderate Dems are probably thinking one of two things.

1.         If this PO is huge, then I’m justified in opposing it…more govt, more spending, my constituents don’t like it, yada yada yada

2.         If this PO is not huge, then I’m justified in opposing it…why are we fighting over something so small?

Some may disagree with their logic and/or facts, but the situation remains.


I'm willing to declare that the “public option” will be one of the following four options:

1.  The idea that was floated yesterday was of Medicare 55-65.  Although it could be problematic, politically.  thereisnospoon had a diary that speaks to that yesterday.  Interesting points.

2.  The good ole' Snowe trigger.  Many on the left believe that this is actually designed never to trigger.

3.  This OPM buy-in, so people can purchase federal insurance…although, many people are saying that it's not a real public option.

4.  Some sort of Opt-In public option…which probably would not be as robust as an Opt-Out, considering the nature of it.

Another big question is, if the final PO is one of these four options, is an individual mandate a political winner for the Democrats?  I’d have to say no.  desmoinesdem seemed concerned about it today too.  Why alienate younger voters?

The political play-out of this has been fascinating, and rarely do we have a time in American politics where we truly do NOT know the outcome.  We’ll see how it plays out.  Of these four options, or a fifth that I may have overlooked, what would be the best from a policy standpoint?  A political standpoint?