No Trust Among Democrats

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Obama Administration

E.J. Dionne writes of the resistance in the House to pass the Senate hcr bill:

The core problem is that the House Democrats no longer trust the Senate Democrats. And let’s be honest: There is no reason in the world for House Democrats to trust the Senate Democrats at this point, or even to feel very kindly disposed toward them.

That’s why there is resistance in the House to the most straightforward solution, which is for the House to pass the Senate health-care bill and send it to the president, and then to use the reconciliation process (which requires only 51 votes in the Senate) to pass the changes in the bill that House and Senate negotiators have agreed to — or, at least, as many of those changes as is procedurally possible. They can’t get all the changes into law that way, but they could get a lot of them.

The catch is that the House Democrats don’t believe the Senate Democrats will necessarily keep their word and pass the reconciliation bill containing the amendments. And it’s not only the question of trust: anyone who has watched the Senate for the last year can be forgiven for wondering if it is even functional enough (given Republican obstruction and a lack of cohesion in the Democratic caucus) to keep a promise sincerely made.

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but Dionne probably is right. Dionne goes on to say that the leaders of both houses are trying to find a work-around that would allow the House to have the final vote on any final bill, but I’m not sure I understand exactly how that would work.

News of what’s going on now changes hourly. I hear there are talks; I hear there is no plan; I hear that the Obama Administration wants to both slow down and speed up the process. So, nobody really knows what’s going on.

The most significant development today may be that David Plouffe, President Obama’s campaign manager in 2008, is stepping into the role of White House adviser. Maybe he’ll get the Dems in Washington to re-think their priorities.

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7 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 23, 2010 @3:19 pm

    “… that the leaders of both houses are trying to find a work-around…”
    If I were a House member, I wouldn’t trust the Senate either. While the Democratic House members are working on a work-around, what the ‘Senate’s Ol’ Boy’s and Gal’s Club’ is actually doing is its usual “reach-around.”

    I still think something is better than nothing. At least get some sort of a foundation down that we can build on. Yes, I’m asking my progressive members to take one ‘for the team.’ Yuch! I hated even writing that!!!
    Because what we have now is nothing. And it’ll be nothing for the rest of my life – which will probably be shorter than it would have been.
    I gotta say though, that when I go, whenver I go, (if there’s anywhere to go to at all), I sure won’t miss this fucking place… And when I say that, I certainly don’t mean this site. I mean THIS WHOLE fucking place!
    And if Heaven if full of Theocratic conservatives, please, God, let there be a Hell!

  2. felicity  •  Jan 23, 2010 @5:12 pm

    cundgulag – a few months ago I wouldn’t have agreed with you, or maha, but now I do because too many of the American electorate seem convinced, better yet scared to ‘death’, that any reform of health care would be to their disadvantage rather than their advantage – which may be a salient reason why Congress is acting like fish-out-of-water on this issue.

    Once, I hope not if, the reforms are in place and operating and the public realizes that their fears were unwarranted, the then-existing bill can be amended, added to, whatever because the electorate will be in support.

  3. Doug Hughes  •  Jan 23, 2010 @5:51 pm

    “And if Heaven if full of Theocratic conservatives, please, God, let there be a Hell!”

    I would like your permission to carve that on my tombstone, though I don’t intend to die anytime soon.

  4. goatherd  •  Jan 23, 2010 @6:06 pm

    Ditto.

    I think there would be a small added benefit in using the reconciliation process because it wouldn’t be rolling over and it would be fun to listen to the Republicans whine. It might also give some a lesson that we move ahead only with a sustained team effort. We need T-shirts that say “Team Building Exercise”, like in that Conchords song.

    The other part is of course, that health care reform is the right thing to do regardless of the noise machine’s ability to distort facts. Before I retired to the farm I saw twenty some years worth of broken lives and people trying to put their lives back together. Those that had anything to speak of, usually lost it. If you look someone in that situation straight in the eye, you’ll never be the same again, unless of course you’re a Libertarian.

    But, for all that, I WILL miss this place. I am a not very evolved Buddhist. I do seek my salvation, but I have always suffered from insufficient assiduity. I want to continue to “joyfully take part in the sorrows of mankind” for a while, especially if I can do some of it in the south of France.

    I’ve seen a fair amount of birth and death on the farm and I think that if I can’t break my attachment to this world when my time comes, I’ll stare at a picture of Lou Dobbs for a minute or two. That should get anyone willing to shuffle off old mister mortal coil.

  5. moonbat  •  Jan 23, 2010 @7:01 pm

    I hope they can get past this roadblock and do HCR through reconciliation, as well as every other issue on the progressive agenda. Democrats need to learn to operate in this new environment, and stop wasting energy on bipartisanship.

    Ron Brownstein was quoted in a Mother Jones article, explaining that

    We are operating in what amounts to a parliamentary system without majority rule, a formula for futility.

    The article goes on to explain:

    In a parliamentary system, party discipline is absolute. With a few rare exceptions, you vote with your party at all times, and there’s no such thing as “bipartisanship.” And it works fine. But it works fine because parliamentary democracies have a bunch of machinery that makes it work: majorities are able to pass legislation, no-confidence votes can bring down an unpopular government, party platforms are taken seriously, etc. We don’t have any of that stuff. What we’ve evolved over the past 20 years is a de facto parliamentary system without any of the machinery that makes it work. The result is national gridlock.

    The sooner the Dems drop this bipartisan nonsense and learn to operate under these rules, the better off everyone will be.

  6. felicity  •  Jan 23, 2010 @7:55 pm

    moonbat take note. We have exported the American Presidential
    System to about 30 different countries, which when put into play has had disastrous results.

    Jefferson said severly amend it (the Constitution) or dump it in no more than 30 years after it was ratified. He and others at the time admitted that much of it was designed only so that the less populated states would sign on to it, but running a country according to it would probably be disastrous.

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 23, 2010 @9:04 pm

    Doug,
    I certainly hope that you don’t go anytime soon. You’ve helped me keep my sanity in the past few years. You, Joan, moonbat, maha, erinyes, and others, too many to name here. Sometimes, I go a bit overboard, and I’m glad when you point that out to me.
    But, Doug, when you do go, you have my full permission!
    I forgot to add that ‘Hell would have a better class of people…’



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