Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown v. Bored of Democrats

Most would think the stunning election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy's old senate seat in Massachusetts should bring Democrats to their knees. Instead, it seems to me that liberals have been done a great favor by ditching the super-majority albatross that has been swinging from their necks since last year.

Make no mistake, last night's victory by the GOP clearly is a harbinger for November. But it also should be a positive wake-up call to Democrats. Rather than living by the premise that liberals need 60 votes to pass any legislation in the Senate, they now merely must round up 50 senators, with Vice President Joe Biden breaking the tie. This is good news because gone are the whiny slugs like independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Nebraska's raider-like Sen. Ben Nelson. Their votes -- among others -- have been neutralized because they are no longer needed.

Of course, the real problem is whether Republicans will filibuster each and every piece of legislation the Democrats propose. To Senate "leader" Harry Reid, I offer one piece of advice: Dare them to do it. I dare the Republicans to stand in the Senate chambers and read the Holy Bible or the telephone book or My Dog Spot while America endures 10 percent unemployment and 30 million people are without health care.

The last time a serious filibuster was used happened in 1964 while debating the landmark Civil Rights Act. But it wasn't the minority party that threw a fit and threatened to block the legislation. Rather it was the southern Democrats that had to be neutralized.

So while the health care debate is effectively over -- with absolutely no indication about what will happen next -- it should be noted that other legislation CAN pass with 51 votes. This notion that 60 senators are needed for ALL legislation is absurd. And proof of that is in 2003 when President Bush pushed through the Medicare Part D legislation that essentially was a multi-billion dollar boon for the prescription drug companies. The vote on that monstrosity?

Yea: 54
Nay: 44


  1. You make an excellent point about the relief from having to kowtow to a jackass like Lieberman. And Reid must demand that any future filibuster is a real one, not just some procedural exercise.

  2. Mike, I agree with your sentiment that this COULD be a good thing for the Democrats because of the things you cite, such as--- cutting their reliance on Nelson and Lieberman and actually requiring the republicans to filibuster.

    I used to be on the team of thinking that this POS health care bill was at least a solid foundation for real reform. My position was that they should get this thing passed and then IMMEDIATELY start submitting single-issue bills to do the work that the original bill didn't do. So the original didn't have a public option? That doesn't mean that we can't write a bill that ONLY creates a public option insurance company. Same thing for medicare expansion or even single payer. Get a bunch of comparatively small bills lined up that you know damn well can't pass a 60 vote cloture call and let the GOP bring the US government to a halt from February-November and see how that works out for them.

    I don't know how that strategy works if you can't pass the "big one" first...

  3. The health care bill is a huge question mark right now. Not only over whether it will pass, but the ramifications of if it does pass. If the Dems jam this through, then I would think the Republicans will be more likely to block everything in the future. The gamble, though, is that if you don't pass this, then the Republican probably will still try to block everything in the future.

    It comes down to your values and conviction. If the Democratic leaders and Obama believe this is important, than they should pass it... consequences be damned. Regardless, they need to understand that they have basically wasted a year, and now have possibly just 11 more months to make progress on a range of issues important to liberals. They still have a commanding majority, and must decide whether they want 41 senators to dictate the legislative agenda.

    Grow a backbone and stand up for what you believe in.

  4. With healthcare, a bill rammed through Congress is sure to be hasty, poorly thought out, and possibly make things worse than they already are. Adding a hodgepodge of single bills after the fact will certainly only create more bureaucratic red tape. How can that be good?

  5. They have been discussing health care reform for the past year. How is that "ramming through Congress"? I really think they need to go back to basics... You cannot lose your coverage due to pre-existing conditions, children can stay on their parents' insurance until age 25 and expand Medicaid to more people.

  6. "Adding a hodgepodge of single bills after the fact will certainly only create more bureaucratic red tape."

    The point is not to pass them, but to make the republicans filibuster them.

    All you really need is one... medicare for all-- write it up. The GOP absolutely HAS to filibuster it. If not, we get single payer...

  7. I realize they have been working on it for a year, Mike. When I say "ram through," I mean a quick fix to pass really quickly before, say for example, Brown gets seated.

    I actually agree with your "back-to-basics" approach. I think insurance should not be denied to individuals with pre-existing conditions (although this will raise overall private insurance costs, it's a compromise I'm willing to make. What if I get a PEC in the future; how would I feel?) and that DEPENDENT children can stay on parents' insurance until age 25. However, if a child becomes independent before then, s/he should not be allowed to remain on the insurance, as s/he is a legal, independent adult.

  8. To be sure, I don't think it is at all shady if the Democrats round up enough votes in the House to pass the Senate version. The U.S. Senate voted and passed the bill, so I would have no problem with Congress passing that bill. It appears unlikely that she will have enough votes, though.