Discipline At All Cost

Yglesias is surprised by the GOP's united front:

It’s normally hard for a congressional minority to maintain discipline. After all, the majority can offer actual thingspolicy concessions and porky handoutsthat the minority really can’t offer. Throughout this process I kept making jokes about health reform being amended to include a lobsterman bailout to get Senators Collins & Snowe to sign on, and I really thought something like that would work.

And this applies triply to substantive policy issues. I’ve heard dozens of conservative commentators complain that the bill’s deficit-reduction measures and cost controls aren’t tough enough. And I’ve heard plenty of Republicans echoing these complaints. But where were the GOP Senators saying “I will vote for this bill if such-and-such cost controls are strengthened in such-and-such a way.” The filibuster gives members of the minority real leverage. Leverage they could have used to shape the course of policy. Instead, they gave all their leverage away to Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, so we wound up with some weird freebies for Nebraska.