The White House obviously doesn’t believe that reconciliation is the only path to a health care bill. They prefer to take the “give Joe Lieberman anything he wants” path.

The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and eliminate the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations.

But Reid is described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he is not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill, and first wants to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. The analysis is expected early this week.

“There is a weariness and a lot of frustration that one person is holding up the will of 59 others,” the official said. “There is still too much anger and confusion at one particular senator’s reversal.”

Rahm Emanuel in particular is named as wanting Reid to take whatever Lieberman offers and make the deal.

This is the point where health care drowns in a sea of intra-party rancor. Reid doesn’t want to essentially lose control of his caucus to Joe Lieberman, the White House wants a “win” no matter the cost, and Joe Lieberman doesn’t want a health care bill. If John Podesta has given up and thinks it’s time to get out the reconciliation books, then it’s probably time. But the White House would rather outsource the writing of the health care bill to the guy who supported John McCain in 2008.

If Reid goes along with this – and offers Lieberman to drop Medicare buy-in and the triggered public option – and Lieberman doesn’t come back with some other problem with the bill that is enough to withhold his support, I’ll eat my hat. Consistency isn’t really a problem with him – he supported Medicare buy-in during the Gore-Lieberman 2000 Presidential campaign, and as recently as earlier this week, according to some reports.

There will be a 5pm ET meeting between Harry Reid and the Democratic caucus today.

…The White House uses their preferred source to deny this and move the yo-yo back in the other direction. I’m in the position not to believe Dan Pfeiffer for a second on this point.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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