Credit where credit is due:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is the new king of Capitol Hill. His skill in keeping 40 Republicans united against Democratic health care reform was masterful, and it wasn’t easy. A number of Republican senators are drawn to co-sponsoring or at least voting for Democratic bills. Not this time.
By keeping his minority together, McConnell put enormous pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had to keep every Democrat in line to gain the 60 votes need to halt a Republican filibuster. On health care, it meant he had to make unseemly deals with a host of senators, most egregiously in the Medicaid payoff to Nebraska to appease Senator Ben Nelson. Reid got the votes, but the deals were political poison.
Persuading the entire GOP caucus to withdraw from negotiations, many of whom seemed to support the basic goals of the legislation, put incredible pressure on the Democrats. Every last Democratic Senator became a kingmaker, and the result both forced some ugly (though very small bore) compromises, and stretched out the negotiations long enough for lightning to strike.
What's amazing is that some Democrats think their best play now is to go back to the GOP, negotiate a small bore compromise, get it done quickly, and start bashing the Republicans on the bank tax. Don't they realize McConnell will just run the same play on them again?