Giving centrists very little to complain about

GIVING CENTRISTS VERY LITTLE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT…. A Senate Democratic aide emailed me yesterday with some of the top-line numbers for the new health care bill: $848 billion over 10 years; $127 billion in deficit reduction in the first decade; $650 billion in deficit reduction in the second decade.

Literally, the very first thought that came to my mind was, “Well, that ought to shut the ‘centrists’ up.”

While the wonks and assorted policy analysts pore over the legislation and CBO study, it’s worth taking a moment to remember that center-right Democrats, who’ve been complaining about this initiative all year, have very little to complain about right now. Indeed, they should be thrilled — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has put together a reform package custom made to give the so-called “moderates” just about everything they said they wanted.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled his $848 billion health reform bill Wednesday to broad support from fellow Democrats — and the move quickly turned up the pressure on the last few wavering moderates to support the plan, which includes a sizable chunk of deficit cutting. […]

Democrats on Wednesday were clearly hoping that the deficit figures — the biggest deficit reduction of any health bill to date, Reid’s office noted — would knock down one of the last remaining obstacles to winning the votes of key centrists, at least to go ahead with debate on the bill as early as this weekend.

At this point, they’ve run out of excuses. The center-right Democrats said they wanted a reform bill that didn’t cost too much, lowered the deficit, restricted funding of abortion, restricted aid to immigrants who entered the United States illegally, and didn’t raise taxes on the middle class.

Are Nelson, Landrieu, Lincoln, and Lieberman really going to refuse to take “yes” for an answer? After Reid crafted a bill to address practically of their concerns, are these center-right members of the caucus really going to endorse a Republican filibuster of this landmark legislation?

Yes, there’s still a public option, and the conservative Dems don’t like the idea of public-private competition. But a little perspective is helpful — Reid’s version of the public option is a compromise of a compromise of a compromise. States that don’t want to give residents a choice won’t have to, and according to the CBO, only about 3 million to 4 million American consumers will end up choosing the public plan.

In other words, the center-right Dems have to decide: is it worth killing the entire health care reform initiative — which otherwise meets all of their concerns — because about 1% of the population may voluntarily choose to enroll in a public plan.

The notion that conservative Dems would filibuster their reform package is ridiculous. The notion that conservative Dems wouldn’t even allow a debate on this bill is insane.