According to Politico, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is apparently trying to revive the “Gang of 14” idea, but this time to stop Democrats from using reconciliation to pass some changes to the Senate health care bill. He claims that a bipartisan group in the Senate could agree to a new smaller health care bill if Democrats gave up on reconciliation even though Graham seemed to show zero desire to work on health care reform the first time around.
Of course you'll remember the original Gang of 14 agreed to allow an up-or-down vote on what the Republican majority wanted to protect the filibuster. With this new plan, Graham is asking the Democratic majority to give up completely on an up-or-down vote and the Republican minority in exchange might think about cooperating.
If Graham is really prepared to vote for a bipartisan health care bill he should draft a legitimate bill, put his name on it and be prepared to take it to the floor for a vote. Otherwise this is just an attempt to trick Democrats into running out the clock with pointless negotiations.
Coming up with a decent health care bill is surprisingly easily. There are dozens of other health care systems around the world and several fairly successful programs in this country which could be mimicked. If Graham is looking for help writing a reform package I've previously suggested a bill which uses as a starting point Republicans' ever-shifting health care reform principles.
The ridiculous thing is that if Graham really wanted a bipartisan health care bill he could probably easily get it. With Democrats desperate to find away out of the Gordian knot they have tied themselves into with health care reform, I suspect that if Graham along with a handful of Republicans offered a slightly smaller but still sensible health care reform bill the Democrats would probably snap it up.
I'm glad to see for once that the conservative Democrats are not buying into Graham's silliness and only hope the media will see through it as easily. If he really wants a sensible health care reform bill that Republicans will vote for, Sen. Graham needs to put up a bill that has several Republican votes or shut up.