Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, January 21st, 2010.


Black Thursday

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Obama Administration

Nancy Pelosi says there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass the Senate health care reform bill.

Josh Marshall: “In other words, plug pulled. Health care reform over.” That’s how I see it also. Greg Sargent is more hopeful:

The key is that Pelosi said the bill can’t pass the House “at this time” or “right now.” What’s more, this doesn’t address another possibility being studied by House leaders right now: Passing the Senate bill while simultaneously creating a mechanism that would make it possible, or even mandatory, to fix the bill later through reconciliation, meaning those fixes would only require 51 votes in the Senate.

The roller coaster is too much for me. I want to go somewhere quiet where there are puppies and kittens to play with. Let me know when it’s over.

In another blow to progressive hopes, the Supreme Court today overruled prior rulings that allowed government to restrict how corporations and special interest fund candidates. They can now spend all the money they want expressly calling for candidates’ election or defeat. And just in time for the midterms!

Once again, Justice Kennedy was the swing voter who sided with the troglodytes Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Dissenting were Stevens, Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor.

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Light Fires

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Obama Administration

There seems to be some movement in the House toward passing the Senate health care reform bill so that something can be signed into law, and I think if the Dems in the House had any clue what’s good for them, they’ll do that. And the sooner they do it, the better for their re-election campaigns this year.

Matt Yglesias says that it’s too late for House congress critters to say they aren’t really for that crazy liberal health care reform thing, because they already voted for it once.

And of course if health care dies, the instant CW becomes that health care was too left-wing. That America hates those lefty left-wingers who voted for it. Lefty left-wingers just like Representative X. If you pass the bill, you can try to make the case for it. If you don’t pass the bill, you’ve made your opponent’s case for you. Which might not be so bad except you already voted for the bill. Once you vote for something, you’ve got to try to pass it.

If the wimps are so afraid Republicans will be mean to them, the worse thing they can do is let hcr die. Because then the Republicans will take it up, put a big FAIL sign on it, and hang it around Dems’ necks.

As for the Senate — Josh Marshall got an email from a Senate staffer that read in part —

The worst is that I can’t help but feel like the main emotion people in the caucus are feeling is relief at this turn of events. Now they have a ready excuse for not getting anything done. While I always thought we had the better ideas but the weaker messaging, it feels like somewhere along the line Members internalized a belief that we actually have weaker ideas. They’re afraid to actually implement them and face the judgement of the voters. That’s the scariest dynamic and what makes me think this will all come crashing down around us in November.

All the more reason not to call upon the Senate to come up with yet another bill. Let the House pass the Senate bill and let it be signed into law, and go on to economic stimulus and job creation. Now.

Ezra Klein says the Dems’ best option is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then “run their fixes through the reconciliation process.” He also makes an alternative suggestion

Medicare buy-in between 50 and 65. Medicaid expands up to 200 percent of poverty with the federal government funding the whole of the expansion. Revenue comes from a surtax on the wealthy.

And that’s it. No cost controls. No delivery-system reforms. Nothing that makes the bill long or complex or unfamiliar. Medicare buy-in had more than 51 votes as recently as a month ago. The Medicaid change is simply a larger version of what’s already passed both chambers. This bill would be shorter than a Danielle Steel novel. It could take effect before the 2012 election.

If health-care reform that preserves the private market is too complex and requires too many dirty deals with the existing industries, then cut both out. But get it done. Democrats have a couple of different options for passing health-care reform this year. But not passing health-care reform should not be seen as one of them.

President Obama is talking about “a stripped-down measure with bipartisan support,” which tells me he learned nothing from the stimulus package episode last spring. He’s had a year in office now, and while he’s made some moves in the right direction, overall he’s been underwhelming. If he doesn’t make some adjustments pretty soon he may not get a second term. See also Paul Krugman.

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