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The Imaginary Charles Grassley

Ruth Marcus has a column today about Charles Grassley and the prospects for bipartisan health care reform. Marcus treats the prospect that Grassley will support health care reform as an uncertain prospect, albeit one withdim prospects. On the negative side, she reports, Grassley believes that supporting reform could cost him his Senate seat to a GOP challenger and, even if he survives, make Republicans strip him of his seniority on the Judiciary Committee. On the other side of the ledger, she argues, "If health reform passes, he will be remembered more for his role in making that happen than whether he was elected to a sixth term or what committee he served on as ranking member."

So, on the one side you have Grassley's desire to retain his Senatorial prerogatives and possibly his seat as well. On the other, a fond place in the memories of health care reform proponents. Gee, I can't figure out which will win out here.

The real value of the column is it shows why Max Baucus is still going through the charade of negotiating with Grassley. Marcus describes how close the two are, and the hundreds of hours they've logged discussing the issue. Baucus is probably falling for the fallacy of sunk costs -- he's put so much time into negotiating with Grassley that he can't come to grips with letting go of the effort. So he soldiers on even though it's beyond obvious that Grassley is not going to support anything remotely resembling health care reform.