Senate Passes Bill

The Senate health care bill passed in the Senate early this morning, by a 60 – to – 39 party-line vote. The only senator not to vote was Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky, who’s been absent much of the week for unknown reasons. Possibly he’s forgotten how to find the Capitol Building.

I think there are still a lot of questions about what’s in the Senate bill — which of course will not necessarily be in the final bill — so here are some informative articles —

First, on the excise tax on “cadillac plans.” Under the Senate bill if a policy costs more than $8,500 for a person or $23,000 for a family, the insurer would have to pay a 40 percent tax on the cost above that threshold. Retiree policies require a slightly higher threshold. Ezra Klein explains why this provision probably is a good idea, although it’s not the best the Senate could have come up with.

Some recent commenters seem to think that the mandates are only in place because the private insurers wanted them, and that I support them only because I’m a mean person who wants to force people to buy expensive insurance policies. There is actually a solid and rational reason why there have to be mandates. Also, Joshua Holland has a good article on the mandates at AlterNet, in which he provides data showing how much people will have to pay for their insurance. I think you will find this information reassuring.

See also Paul Krugman: “how anyone can call a plan to spend $200 billion a year on Americans in need a defeat for progressives is a mystery.”

Brad DeLong has a letter signed by several prominent economists supporting the bill. See also Timothy Egan, “Profiles in Cowardice.”

Updates: Bwana Broder is once again taking us simple native people to task for our bad manners. Steve Benen responds.

Ezra Klein, “Winning Ugly, But Winning.”

Nate Silver says debating “kill the bill-ers” is getting to be a lot like debating global warming denialists. They are unswayed by, you know, facts.

Jonathan Chait says the health care bill is the greatest social achievement of our time. Maybe, but that does tell us something about “our time,” doesn’t it?

Jonathan Cohn:

Vice President Joe Biden presided over the session and, on the floor, members seemed aware of the moment’s historical import. The ailing Robert Byrd, who had to be wheeled in to the chamber for each of this week’s four votes, reportedly shouted “for my friend Ted Kennedy, aye.”

20 thoughts on “Senate Passes Bill

  1. I don’t see how we can be upset – we don’t live in france like we would prefer, but this is basically an improvement over what it was.

  2. Here’s a fact, greed has won out. Almost everyone’s health and future has been been sold on the block to health insurance monopolies by influence peddlers who enrich themselves with each untreated sickness and death. Selling the American middle class to the highest corporate bidders and using elected office to line your own pockets is NOT public service. Truly effective reform waits to be claimed on the Washington mall.

    • Here’s the deal, Orley — I don’t like people who drop by here and leave crap on my blog without responding to what’s written in the post. Read the post first, and then respond specifically to what’s in it. It’s OK to disagree with the post, but if you do so you need to present a real argument to support your point of view. Got that? Thanks much.

      For future reference, please note the Mahablog comment policies.

  3. Crazy:

    It’s an improvement, but there’s a lot of anger on my part that the Democrats don’t have any discipline when it comes to things like Senate votes. I don’t like Lieberman and Nelson suddenly becoming big and powerful and being able to dictate terms on this. There are times to use your crucial 60th vote to get goodies for yourself (whether those are ego-boos because you’re a fatuous prick, like Lieberman, or money for your state, which is at least defensible), but there are times when you present a united front, because

    1) you care about these issues, and
    2) there’s the metaphorical equivalent of a pack of rabid wolverines that are going to chew out your intestines while you, still living, watch in horror.

    And the Dems have chosen to substitute “well, I disagree with Senator Lieberman’s principled position” for the pack of rabid wolverines.

  4. It seems the last election was between the Republicants and the Republicrats and now the “progressive leaders” are bending over backwards saying thank you for the crumbs and please give us some more crumbs in a decade or two. Bah, Humbug. Happy Holidays everyone

  5. Okay, i reviewed the cost numbers in the AlterNet article. Here’s my problem which I assume is shared by many.

    I’m self-employed and haven’t had health insurance for nearly 10 years. In the past year we’ve only managed to save $208 per month while skipping most health care expenses. My current health care spending is probably on par with out of pocket expenses of someone with health insurance. So in my world, I would need to cover the expense of the premium. With this reform, my monthly health insurance premium would be $483.

    Even if i spend all future savings on health insurance, ignoring the necessary furture costs for home maintenance — roof, paint, siding, windows, etc. — I still cannot cover the cost of the premiums. Of course this presumes that I’ll find as much contract work next years as this year. Honestly, that’s a very bad bet. So for me and my teenie tiny political conributions, my wife and I have been screwed.

  6. “for my friend Ted Kennedy, aye!”
    Robert Byrd, redemption is thy name……….
    There are times when government pisses me off to the 100th power, then guys like Byrd say something that makes my heart sing.
    Merry Christmas Maha!

  7. Here’s tjhe lesson that I’ve heard thousand’s of times and thus learned in my 52 years on earth, all of them as a Liberal: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” And I don’t, every time. I have compromised away many things, but not my beliefs.
    Maybe, before the elections of ’10 and ’12, where we could loose Dem’s in the Congress, I’ll hear, at least once, ‘Don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect.’ And we get single-payer. I know it won’t happen, but I can dream, can’t I? And then, if it isn’t “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at least it would be ‘a better life…’

    I wish every one of you fellow readers a Happy Holiday season and a healthy, happy New Year, regardless of faith and belief, or no faith and no belief.

  8. Ooops, we won’t ‘loose’ them, like they’re ponies we can’t train, and who get loose. We’ll lose them, like ponies that can’t learn, and then lose. But, hopefully not.

  9. I thought it was quite bizarre that when Reid’s name was called he first voted “no”! The chamber broke out in laughter then he changed it to yes, quite embarrassing for the leader don’t you think? One good thing about the bill is that it will most likely cost Reid his seat, which would be a positive thing for the democrats in the senate in my opinion.

  10. I still hope for a single payer health care system; but, am pleased that there will be people who will get care soon when they would not have if the status quo had won out.

    Love the story about Senator Byrd. Wishing every one a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.

  11. Quite frankly, I find Nate Silver’s accusation that those of us who opposed this next-to-worthless bill to be equivalent to “global warming deniers” personally very insulting. In fact, it’s that kind of nasty talk that’s really going to bury progressives in future elections. I guess Nate thinks that Obama’s leadership has been so sterling that anyone who doesn’t drop to his knees in praise is an ignorant teabagger.

    One of the commenters to Nate’s diatribe said it well, so I’ll quote:

    “Take what’s possible, not what’s ideal. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Shut up and support the President because the alternative is worse.” That’s all I feel like I’ve been told for months now. Now I’m the equivalent of a global warming denier because I want the people I busted my ass to put into office to have some kind of bedrock principle. I’m not inspired to work for anyone in 2010. I’m not inspired to vote for anyone in 2012. I’m not inspired to do much beyond saying “fuck off,” next time the DNCC calls and asks why I haven’t donated.

    If this is what Nate and the Good Enoughers were looking for in victory, more power to them. Enjoy the glee of your moment.

  12. Ozonehead – I find Nate Silver’s comparison of you to a global warming denier quite appropriate. And your response that you are going to go sulk in 2010 & 2012 proof of your mentality. The stuff you wanted in the bill isn’t IN the bill because we were barely able to scrape up 60 votes through COMPROMISE. If we had about 10 more progressives in the Senate, the GOP and the moderates would only be able to cry.

    Around the middle of next year, wonks like Nate Silver will ID the races where a Moderate/Republican is vulnerable. You might not be voting in that state, but you can make contributions and/or blog for a candidate. This is called building a majority. If history is true, we will lose seats in the mid-term, so 2012 becomes the best chance of going 60+. I don’t just want Democrats – I want progressives. We can do it without you and your tantrums.

    OK – Santa didn’t bring you what you want for X-mas. You won’t play with the toys you got and you are going to make everyone miserable besides. To HELL with you! I’m celebrating! We ARE going to cover almost 95% of Americans. We ARE going to make it affordable with subsidies. We are going to limit how much the industry MUST pay in medical expenses. We ARE going to eliminate rescinding policies and denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. We’re doing it in a fiscally responsible way. Americans have been waiting more Christmases than I have been alive for this gift.

    Go be a grinch by yourself.

  13. Ozonehole, I know how you feel. There are many times I feel like a sucker for paying any attention to either party. I realize that big business controls both sides of the houses, it is very frustrating.
    There are times when I’d liket to just chuck it all and run down to Baja, buy myself a little ranch on the Sea of Cortez, and spend the next 20 0r so years off the grid, fishing, farming, and drinking margaritas.

    While my friends and family are drowning in debt and dying from cancer, our officials are having trouble cobbling together a decent health care program, won’t slap regulation on the credit card companies to curb their stranglehold of usury on the world, and seem desperate to protect us from the threat of “socialism” as they escalate the war in AFPAC and will continue to occupy Iraq, while building “lilly-pads” of bases through out the lesser known backwaters of the globe.

    Our government is infested with idiots and there is no fixing it.
    The prerequsit for becoming a law maker is to be a millionare lawyer, or just a millionare who needs a hobby to occupy their time and impress their friends.
    They keep passing new laws to create more felons, thinking it will make them appear “tough on crime”, while cutting taxes that fund programs that keep people from committing crimes, in the name of “fiscal conservatism”.
    Sadly, the elites get to run the show, but they have a different “prisim” through which they view the world. Look at Palin, Inhoff, Perry, and most of the “blue Dogs”, a sad lot indeed..
    On the health care bill, we needed a bus, but they gave us a skateboard, we’ll have to build on that.
    “Sir, may I have some more porridge?”
    Better than a sharp stick in the eye, I guess………

  14. Pingback: A Stunning Achievement | The Moderate Voice

  15. I’m sorry but I have a really hard time seeing $8000 a year for health insurance as some sort of bargain. I pay $2200 a year now and it’s actually pretty good insurance. That’s not exactly what I call “competition” but more of an excuse for private insurers to raise their rates even more.

    And $23,000 for a family? (of 4 I’m assuming) That’s not a deal that’s a joke.

    • Tom — you’re misreading. The $8,500 to $23,000 figures aren’t being called a “bargain.” They are the high-end, so-called “cadillac” plans that everyone acknowledges are way above the average cost of an insurance policy. The Senate bill places an excise tax — payable by the insurance companies — on on the cost of a policy above those thresholds to encourage insurance companies to bring down their prices.

  16. So what’s the cost of the policies that people might actually purchase? So far the only figures I’ve seen reported are the ones you used. I’m not quite sure what the value is in talking about high-end cadillac policies when the ones that matter are the ones most people will be getting.

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