We Don’t Need Bleeping Broad Bipartisan Agreement

David M. Herszenhorn and Robert Pear write in the New York Times:

The fate of the health care overhaul largely rests on the shoulders of six senators who since June 17 have gathered — often twice a day, and for many hours at a stretch — in a conference room with burnt sienna walls, in the office of the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana.

President Obama and Congressional leaders agree that if a bipartisan deal can be forged on health care, it will emerge from this conference room, with a huge map of Montana on one wall and photos of Mike Mansfield, the Montanan who was the longest-serving Senate majority leader, on the other.

The battle over health care is all but paralyzed as everyone awaits the outcome of their talks.

Why this little scenario needs to change, right now:

Already, the group of six has tossed aside the idea of a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, which the president supports but Republicans said was a deal-breaker.

Instead, they are proposing a network of private, nonprofit cooperatives.

They have also dismissed the House Democratic plan to pay for the bill’s roughly $1 trillion, 10-year cost partly with an income surtax on high earners.

The three Republicans have insisted that any new taxes come from within the health care arena. As one option, Democrats have proposed taxing high-end insurance plans with values exceeding $25,000.

The Senate group also seems prepared to drop a requirement, included in other versions of the legislation, that employers offer coverage to their workers. …

…In the House, centrist Democrats have temporarily stalled the health care bill, many lawmakers want to see what Mr. Baucus’s group produces before voting on tax increases in the House bill.

I read this first thing this morning, and I cannot tell you how sick I feel. That the lives of Americans rest with this corrupt little crew — at least some of them are essentially sponsored by Big Pharma and other parts of the medical-industrial complex, who are major campaign contributors — is beyond outrageous. It is the utter failure of American democracy in microcosm.

My favorite quote:

“If this is the only bill with bipartisan support,” Ms. Snowe said, “that will really resonate. It could be the linchpin for broad bipartisan agreement.”

And we need broad bipartisan agreement so much more than we need health care.

These people need to hear from us:

Senator Max Baucus, Montana, Democrat

Senator Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico, Democrat

Senator Kent Conrad, North Dakota, Democrat

Senator Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming, Republican

  • Washington Office:
    379A Senate Russell Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
    Main: (202) 224-3424
    Fax: (202) 228-0359
    Toll free: (888) 250-1879
  • All office locations
  • Email form

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Iowa, Republican

Senator Olympia Snowe, Maine, Republican

  • Washington Office:
    154 Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
    Phone: (202) 224-5344
    Toll Free: (800) 432-1599
    Fax: (202) 224-1946
  • District offices
  • Email form


The White House, so you can tell President Obama to veto any bill that doesn’t contain the public option:

  • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20500-0004
  • Phone Numbers
    Comments: 202-456-1111
    Switchboard: 202-456-1414
    FAX: 202-456-2461

    Comments: 202-456-6213

  • Email form


Update: I looked up state populations (as of 2008) and calculated that all six of the senators put together represent 8,444,956 people. The population of New York City is approximately 8.3 million people.

2008 Populations

  • Montana 967,440
  • New Mexico 1,984,356
  • North Dakota 641,481
  • Wyoming 532,668
  • Iowa 3,002,555
  • Maine 1,316,456

12 thoughts on “We Don’t Need Bleeping Broad Bipartisan Agreement

  1. I think the real point is that we have a government that cannot address the problems of its citizens. It is no longer representative of the population. I’m sure there are any number of reasons why this is the case but the ability of special interests to funnel money into representatives is high on the list. What other country allows this and doesn’t call it bribery? I’m with Maha on this, it’s depressing to see that we can’t get even reasonable progressive legislation done that would be terribly helpful to a large portion of the population. We’re a third world, banana republic with big buildings. I think that worked for most people as long as they could still buy big TV’s and SUV’s. Put us in a long depression and I’m scared to think what can happen. Actually, it may be for the better.

  2. Senate Finance Committee Kisses PHrMA’s Ass – cuts Public Option from Health Care Bill…

    Let’s congratulate Max Baucus and Charles Grassley who have knuckled under to Big Pharmaceuticals and kept any Public Option out of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill. They can join the applause brought to the measure by the rich and make the United States remain outrageously stupid when compared wit EVERY OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED NATION.

    It’s really incredible that they can ignore the President, the majority of Americans and those who see the absolute logic in making health care a reformed institution as opposed to a guaranteed moneymaker for the employers of lobbyists.

    Under The LobsterScope

  3. You say “These people need to hear from us.” and then you list Senators from six states. Those Senators do not care what you think if you are not from their state nor, by some ways of thinking, should they do so. Their sense is that they represent the people of that state.

    I actually disagree with that thinking and aver that it is a large part of our governental problem. These Senators should be governing for the wellbeing of the nation, not for individual states. While elected from within a state, I believe that they actually should represent the people of the entire nation.

    Decisions should be “What is best for the nation?” rather than “What is best for my state?” or, as is the most common, “What is best for my reelection?”

  4. Bill H — you might have noticed I included links for contacting everyone in the House and Senate as well as the White House.

    And I think the three Dems in particular need to be educated that if they gut the health care bill, the entire Democratic Party is going to suffer for it.

  5. So many said it so well already but I’ll add my $0.02 worth…there MUST be a period of housecleaning. Bush so defined the battleground of issues that we now have these blue dog infiltrators who by contrast to Bush policy only seemed progressive. Healthcare including the public option will happen, now or sometime thereafter during Obamas term, maybe after the midterms when these insurance industry shills have been swept aside. It would be better for Obama to veto any lesser bill lacking the public option.

    It is not too early to begin seeking the successors for the crew you listed.

    Public opinion can turn around at the speed of a giant ocean-going freighter sometimes. I believe there’s a momentun that cannot be stopped. Some things just have to play themselves out. The co-opting of the ignorant by the rich and powerful has never been more obvious than now.

    Thanks for the names and addresses. I will make effective use of them and hope everyone else does too. It doesn’t seem like much, but if everyone does then that’s a lot…

  6. I’m not sure the three Dems you list give a flying beep about the “entire Democratic Party” but it might help if they were inundated with calls expressing POLITE disagreement.

    Thank you for the contact information.

    What might be more effective in getting their attention is well funded, credible primary challengers. ActBlue, the Progressive Change Campaign Committe, MoveOn, OpenLeft, are all organizations working to primary Corporate Dems with Progressive Dems.

    What those potential primary challengers are facing is two things: Corporate cash sucked up by those Corporate Dems and trash talkers like “buckyblue” who fail to distinguish between the Corporate Democrats working with Corporate Republicans and the rest of the “government”.

    Progressives Democrats get taken down by Corporate Dems because folk like “buckyblue” think they are all the same. THEY’RE NOT.

    Distinctions need to be made between the Corporate Dems, the “Middle” Dems, and the Progressive Dems.

    When the “entire Democratic Party” suffers it just means that the Corporate Republican Party benefits (which may be what the handful of Corporate Dems are trying to engineer).

  7. Again I find myself a Johnny-one-note. The Constitution is a seriously flawed document – anachronistic and counterproductive to good government. But like that ‘other’ revered document, the Bible, we are under the delusion that if not written by god (like the Bible?), god must have at least ‘directed’ the hands of the men who wrote it.

    The first order of business in 1787 was to write a document that the states would sign on to and it is those ‘provisions’ which today stand in the way of good government. Jefferson ‘got’ it (he gave it 30 years) so why can’t we.

  8. Over at Kos there’s a post on the population represented by Dems, Blue Dogs and Repubs. Clearly 2/3rds of the population of the United States is represented by Dems who would vote for the public option, we get someone from Montana with no population holding up real reform. I would use the contact information and tell your representative and Senators to not vote for the bill if it does not have a public option. I have a conservative repub as a representative, no worry there. But I do have Feingold and Kohl. Feingold could very well not vote for it, Kohl I’m not sure about. There is something seriously wrong with our Constitution and it needs to be amended so that these morons from small states cannot hold up the progressive legislation that large state’s population wants. Seriously.

  9. I’m pasting in a helpful comment to a similar posting by Digby:

    WHAT’S TO BE DONE? Progressives need to rally by contacting Democratic senators to amend the bill once it reaches the floor. Then, there’s the reconciliation process once it passes the House & Senate. It can be be substantially altered by the committee involved in reconciliating the 2 bills. This is what Bush & Repubs did with the pharmaceutical legislation, shifting it greatly toward the market. I suspect Democrats don’t have the stomach for such a maneveur; the Party is too dysfunctional. Our best shot is amending it on the Senate floor. But progressives need to prod key senators.
    Carter | 07.28.09 – 1:15 pm | #

    As a counterpoint, this comment immediately followed:

    No. Our best shot is to kill the whole fucking thing. At this point I’m convinced that whatever turd of a bill passes both houses will be nothing but a Medicare Part D-like boondoggle. Forget about it and wait a few years until the system is in such deep crisis that 100,000 people march on Congress demanding single payer.
    Steve LaBonne | 07.28.09 – 1:20 pm | #

    Take yer pick.

  10. We can still donate to candidates running against blue dogs that gut public option, right?
    Is it true that Sen Enzi isn’t running for reelection?

  11. I copied and pasted a letter I wrote to every one of these guys. Thanks for the links. Not that it will help, but.

    And yes, I was polite.

  12. I thought “Blue Dogs” are just Representatives and didn’t include Senators?

    Wyoming Republican Senator Mike Enzi just got reelected in 2008 so we’re stuck with him (and Baucus) until at least 2014.

    Kent Conrad, Olympia Snowe, and Jeff Bingaman are up for reelection in 2012.

    Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is up for reelection 2010.

    A credible, well funded challenger in Iowa would have a good (but tough) chance of beating Grassley. Iowa is a Purple-to-Blue state but Grassley has made a pretense of being “bipartisan” (which I think is belied by his voting record).

    Unfortunately the best challenger was (is?) probably former Iowa Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack who is now working in the Obama administration.

    Senator’s reelection dates:


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