Yes, There's A Middle Grounds between Dead and Done Deal

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JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 4, 2010

Yes, There's A Middle Grounds between Dead and Done Deal

Yesterday, Jonathan Bernstein wrote a post entitled "Health care: Done Deal?," which he immediately followed up by writing, "I suspect that's too strong, but it sure looks as if this is really going to happen." In response, I commented:

I'm not quite this optimistic. You're still talking about the Democratic Party. Some small thing could go wrong and make them all start panicking again. Even if everything goes right, it's going to be a tight vote, the votes aren't there, and the party might not be organized or cohesive enough to overcome its collective action problem (every member has a strong interest in reform passing, but they can't figure out which members switch from No to Yes to allow that to happen.) That said, I agree with Bernstein that things are looking pretty good. I've been holding at about a 60% chance of passage since Scott Brown won his Senate seat.

Now, here's how Megan McArdle records these opinions:

On the one hand, there are people like the TNR crew, and Jonathan Bernstein, Andrew's guest-blogger, who seem to think that this it's the next best thing to a done deal....So there you are: either it's a done deal, or it's dead.  There's no longer much middle ground in between.

This is a picayune point, but this is bizarre. Bernstein made pretty clear he doesn't really consider health care a done deal, but quite likely. I replied that I'm less optimistic than Bernstein, and consider it a 60% possibility. Then McArdle concludes that both Bernstein and I agree that it's a "done deal." I just don't know how to reply to this. My opinion was clearly neither of these. And it's not like I employed some vague, easy to misconstrue language. "60% chance of passage" is a fairly precise expression of my estimation of the likelihood of passage.

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posted in: jonathan chait, andrew, democratic party, senate, jonathan bernstein, megan mcardle, scott brown

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