A Breather on Health Care Reform Might Be Good
That is Nate Silver’s assessment right now — for two main reasons:
One, the press’s tendency to focus on short-term, insignificant but flashy issues, combined with its famously short attention span, might mean that when Congress comes back after the August recess, the media will be bored of the “Obama’s-poll-numbers-are-down,” “the public is cooling on health care reform,” and “Obama said that racial profiling still exists!” memes, and will be ready for the “game-changer” meme — which obviously would be an upward move, since things are going so terribly for him now. And yes, that is snark.
And two, there are early signs that the next cycle of economy report cards will show improvement:
Nobody much seems to have noticed, but the Dow is now over 9,000 and at its highest point of the Obama presidency; the S&P is nearing 1,000 and the NASDAQ has gained almost 55 percent since its bottom and has moved upward on 12 consecutive trading days. There are ample reasons to be skeptical about the rally — it isn’t supported by strong volumes, and it’s almost entirely the result of surprisingly solid corporate earnings numbers rather than the sorts of figures that Main Street cares about. But, there are two big dates to watch out for. On July 31, an advance estimate of second quarter GDP growth will be released, and on August 7th, we’ll get the monthly report on the unemployment situation. If either of those reports reflect the optimism elicited by the corporate earnings numbers — in this context, a job loss number under ~250,000 or a 2Q GDP number somewhere close to zero — there will be a lot of quite optimistic chatter about the end of the recession which might not penetrate to Main Street, but which will at least have some reverberations on Capitol Hill.
Over at the Washington Post‘s Political Browser column, Ben Pershing seconds Silver’s optimism, and adds another reason for feeling that way:
To Silver’s thesis, add this: The House and Senate not passing reform before recess means Democratic lawmakers won’t have to go home and defend potentially flawed bills that may not even resemble the final package. No bill means no opportunity for opponents to pore through the text and find that controversial provision (it promotes euthanasia!!) buried deep inside that members who voted yes would have to defend retroactively. And while there will still be a huge messaging and lobbying battle over the August recess, this spares Democrats from a potentially worse assault.
So blast away, Pawlenty. We’ll barely notice the extra hot air in the August heat.