Is Health Care Reform Dead?

The short answer is, I don’t know, but probably. There are a couple of possible scenarios under which some kind of hcr legislation might still be passed, although it seems one is being ruled out already — to hustle and get a vote on a bill before Brown is sworn in. That’s not going to happen.

The other possibility is that the House would pass a bill identical to the Senate version, which I understand would allow the Senate to go through the procedural nonsense that requires 60 votes. They could then pass the bill with 51 votes. This is probably our only real hope, but the more progressive members of the House say they won’t vote for that bill.

Then there’s the reconciliation option, but I understand that only bits and pieces of the hcr bill could be passed that way, not the whole bill.

We’re already hearing from DINOs like Evan Bayh that the reason Coakley lost is that the Dems moved too far to the left, and they’d better hustle their butts back to the right. That’s going to be conventional wisdom, folks. Count on it.

Peter Daou has a more measured analysis of why the Dems are coming apart at Huffington Post. The whole piece is interesting, but this is worthy of special note:

The single biggest reason Obama’s hope bubble burst is because of the unintended convergence of left and right opinion-making. The cauldron of opinion that churns incessantly on blogs, Twitter, social networks, and in the elite media generates the storylines that filter across the national and local press, providing the fodder for public opinion. Stalwarts of the left, dedicated to principles not personalities, hammered the administration; couple that with the partisan criticisms from conservatives and libertarians, and the net effect was to alter conventional wisdom and undercut Obama’s image and message.

I would say this message isn’t just for President Obama, but all Democrats in Washington. The Democratic Party needs to realize that the foot-dragging of people like Max Baucus (who held hcr up in his finance committee for many long weeks, thereby delaying its passage), Ben Nelson, and Evan Bayh is devastaging to the long-term prospects of the Democratic Party. These guys may be doing what they need to do to win re-election in very conservative states, but in doing so they are killing the Dems’ chance to re-brand itself as a party that can actually do something useful.

The Dems had a small window of opportunity to prove that it really does matter which party one votes for, and that most folks are better off with them, and they blew it.

33 thoughts on “Is Health Care Reform Dead?

  1. Maha – You had it right in yesterday’s title reference. Ted Kennedy is rolling in his grave today.

  2. I’m fairly sure that if the House passes the Senate bill verbatim it goes right to the WH. Some of the issues (subsidy levels, excise tax or surtax etc.) could then be fixed in reconciliation. Whether Pelosi can prevent scared Blue Dogs from defecting or convince “strong” progressives to hold their noses is another matter.

  3. “We’re already hearing from DINOs like Evan Bayh that the reason Coakley lost is that the Dems moved too far to the left, and they’d better hustle their butts back to the right”

    Old Evan, unfortunately he’s my senator and as usual he is completely full of shit. All you have to do is look at the polling graphs. Coakley lost the race after she went on vacation, didn’t know who Curt Shilling was, and refused to do old fashion machine press the flesh type campaigning, the collapse happened in the last thirty days of the campaign. If the Democratic party had moved to far to the left how does one explain that she had as much as a 30 point lead just a month ago? Did the party just move to the left 30 days ago, of course not. She lost because she is weak, the female version of Harry Reid, just another anemic wimpy democrat. They should have run Rep. Ed Marky he would have pummeled Brown, my opinion.

  4. To me, this all boils down to the President’s failure to follow through with his promise of health care reform with a public option. I was among those who became convinced by the logic of your thinking at this blog and others than the bill passed in the Senate was the ebst that the President could get. I see now how much that thinking and logic was a function of buying into the ‘filibuster-proof majority” and the need for 60 votes as a pre-condition to getting anything done. The Democrats were a majority party yesterday and they are one today. The whole thing about the 60 votes has been a lie fed to we on the “left” who are only asking that the leadership of the party deliver as promised and what a majority of people elected them to do in this country. There is no excuse for the President to have to appease prima donnas like Lieberman, Baucus, and Bayh to get passed what he truly wants. I can only infer from the sell-out on HCR that the President is getting what he really wants. This is not going down well with the rest of the country or with me for that matter.

    As far as “conventional narratives” are concerned, I disagree. That will be one narrative by clowns like Bayh, Lanny Davis and Emmanuel Rahm. There is other narrative which the blogosphere and intelligent, non-brain dead people will see that electoral failures are a function of sounding and acting like Republicans when they are in power.

  5. I think Obama and the Democrats are toast. When the shooting stops, Obama is going to move right and talk about bipartisan agreement and Republicans are gong to continue to work for election victories in 2010 and 2012 using obstruction. This is going to be a nightmare to watch. Without leadership and discipline, the Democrats and their progressive leg biters are going to loose the entire liberal agenda.

  6. I think it is worth repeating a comment I made at FDL:

    The “filibuster proof majority” didn’t exist when Obama was inaugurated. On Jan 20, 2009 the Senate was 57D, 41R. Roland Burris made it 58D, 41R. Arlen Spector made it 59D,40R. Finally on July 7 Al Franken made it 60D, 40R. Scare quotes are needed though, because Lieberman certainly wasn’t a guaranteed vote for cloture. Some of the Senate Finance committee manuvering was because Collins or Snow was still needed until Franken/Coleman was decided.

    Personally I would have preferred to see Mike Capuano as the D Candidate in yesterday’s special election.

  7. “To me, this all boils down to the President’s failure to follow through with his promise of health care reform with a public option”

    That would be a valid argument if it were true! Last time I checked there is no Healthcare reform, There are two resolutions, the senate has no public option the house does, so your argument falls apart, pay attention. Coakley lost the election because she is a lazy politician, she did not do the work to win.

    “I think Obama and the Democrats are toast. When the shooting stops, Obama is going to move right and talk about bipartisan agreement ”

    More poppycock. Fucking liberal throw in the towel wimps like you make me sick, we lost one lousy seat in the senate, and now the sky is falling. Call the waambulance. We never had a filibuster proof majority anyway, 6 or 7 of the Dems in the Senate are not Liberal at all. Lieberman, Nelson and Landreau filibustered the healthcare resolution until they got what they wanted, so what’s the difference. I would argue that losing the 60 seats is good for the democrats, the illusion of a supermajority is gone, the illusion of Harry Reid as a supermajority leader is over, that’s a good thing.

  8. Albert Einstein said that if (a theory, an analysis, a supposition) wasn’t simple, it wasn’t right. Quite simply, Democratic and Republican members of either house votes on any legislation are according to the dictates of their monied benefactors.

  9. “That would be a valid argument if it were true!”

    Oh, but it is true, uncledad.

    Maybe I wasn’t clear. Maha and other progressive blogs and commentators took what seemed to be at the time a defensible position in arguing that the Senate bill that was voted on was the best we could get politically. That was essentially the administration’s argument.

    With this election and the Senators and Representatives who supported HCR now running for the hills in panic, even this shitty compromise is going to be tossed out. Well, the scales have fallen from my eyes with all this “filibuster-proof majority” bullshit revisionism. What “filibuster-proof majority” and since when did we start running this country on the trying to please the 49% who say no? A democracy means 51% rules and makes the rules. Just as you don’t take a fortress with a frontal assault, you don’t try to pass a major HCR with a bill you can filibuster. There’s more than one way to skin a cat or pass HCR and if Obama, Pelosi and reid don;t know this, then they ought to look for other work.

    No, Obama’s run out of excuses for me and a lot of other people, like I suspect those who stayed home in Massachusetts yesterday.

  10. TPM is reporting that they’re hearing noises that Obama wants to try to get Snowe on board again.

    “We’re starting to pick up hints that the White House is making another serious bid to pick up the vote of Sen. Olympia Snowe. ”

    I wonder what they’re willing to give up (or tack on, as the case may be) to get her vote.

  11. I am about as far left as any one can get; and, I have not seen the Democrats come even close to my far left leanings. However, I will not vote for a Republican if my life depended on it. How any American can justify voting Republican after the last eight years is beyond me. However, it has been said that Americans have way too short memories. I guess I believe that even more now because we are only one year away from the worst eight years of my life. I am willing to bet that the people of MA are going to have buyers remorse after a while with Brown. But, that still doesn’t do the country any good.

  12. Jomerik,

    It is not true, I didn’t say Obama didn’t campaign on the public option, I said there is no healthcare reform without a public option, because there is no fucking healthcare reform yet, again pay attention. How could he fail to deliver something that has yet to be delivered?

  13. I don’t see why the healthcare bill should die, the House should just pass the senate version and fix the details in future legislation (in this case something is certainly better than nothing). Think about it, had the house marked up the bill to be more of their liking, the senate may not have been able to bring it to the floor anyway, Lieberman or one of the other DINO’s would have stopped it. So as far this bill goes nothing has really changed has it?

  14. Mr. Obama has allowed his opponents to define him. It leaves’s ones head spinning. They call him a socialist because ‘Commie’ fell out of use when Republicans started being from ‘Red’ states”. With all of the comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis, American youth are beginning to think that the allied powers defeated Nazi Germany because Germany had too much health care. This debacle further weakens progressives and strengthens the blue dogs. Obama needs to start fighting back or he will be a one-term president which will be followed by another 4 or most likely 8 years of leadership from the brain dead party. Meanwhile, nothing gets done with climate change and bank regulation. Change that the oligarchs can believe in! No matter how you slice it Obama’s and the dems strategy has been a complete looser up to now. Will they get a clue before time runs out?

  15. jonerik, I started out pissed off and depressed, and you managed to make me even more pissed off and depressed … congrats, buddy!

    I have a step-daughter who is 22 and has no health insurance. She has pre-existing medical conditions, so she couldn’t get private insurance even if she could pay for it.

    The two pieces of this bill that were the most important to me (and I suspect to most people) were the provision for kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until 27, and elimination of pre-existing conditions. Without those two things, doesn’t matter how much HCR you do, my daughter is fucking left in the cold. Those, coincidentally, are two of the many things that you wouldn’t have been able to get through reconciliation.


    Bad day. I have a very low opinion of humanity today. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Otherwise I might have to force myself off this political habit … all it causes is heart-ache and heart-burn.


  16. This is the blackest day I’ve had since ’04.
    American’s have no learning curve.
    They have no attention span unless it’s for “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” or “24.” Speaking of bad day’s, no one EVER had a string of bad days like Jack Bauer. I’ve never watched one second of the show, but I need to know, were the last, what, 8+ seasons consecutive days, or did the poor torturer get some sleep, and a day off once in awhile, and each season may have been week, months, or years apart? If they were consecutive days, that may explain how he and his superiors will avoid The Hague – sleep deprivation…

  17. The Mass. loss seems not so good, but not the end of the world, either. The real worry to me is why Snowe is once again being called a player. She got the royal treatment once and walked away. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, IME.

    The Republicans have a lockstep discipline in force to prevent any one of them from doing anything that would allow a Democrat to accomplish anything. I made this point a day or two ago, and I repeat it now.

    If the Democrats are going to get anything done, they need to do it for themselves. It seems possible, but not probable if they’re circling back to Snowe. What has she got? They don’t need her vote. The progressives in the House will be dealing President Obama a terrible blow if they don’t pass the Senate bill. And they will be guaranteeing the Republicans a victory. I am a progressive, but I am also a pragmatist. Half a loaf is better than none.

    As far as the Coakley campaign goes, I would have thought that the DNC would have been holding her hand and running things for her. US Senator is a whole different race from DA. The failure in the last 30 days was unpardonable on a national support level, not just on Coakley’s part.

    Has anyone checked to “C” where Browne will be living? Who he associates with? Who his bagger connections are and what they’re doing? This guy’s Playgirl photo is being written off as a frat boy stunt from 20 years ago, but you can bet Coakley would never have been elected to anything if she had done a similar thing. If he did that, he will probably have the overweening self-confidence to do more. Is Browne a conservative plant among the baggers? Not, of course, that any of this matters, since apparently anything they do is pardonable/excusable/just one of the guys. Enough wondering.

  18. uncledad, I’m afraid your reposte makes no sense to me. There is no health care reform yet true enough. Neither is there health care reform with a public option. But challenging my statement that the “President failed to deliver” by which I clearly meant that he failed to deliver on his promise of reform with public option, as untrue, you certainly did write that the President never promised, which of course he did. And in failing to deliver, I mean failing to lobby and campaign hard for that and work on a strategy in both House and Senate by which it could pass and bypass any of this filibuster bullshit.

    Has everyone forgotten that episode where the Senate Rethugs under Bush and Cheney made the feckless Dems back off of the threatened filibuster of the reactionary hack Alito by threatening their “nukular” option? They were prepared to trash the filibuster once and for all by having Cheney vote for a bill that would have ruled it unconstitutional. Now the shoe’s on the other foot, what happened to all that rhetoric? Suddenly, it’s “mathematically impossible to do anything without the Republicans”. I don’t buy those lame excuses. There is no public option because the Dems. have been bought and paid for by the banking and insurance lobby.

    I probably should not have said the House bill is dead and I’m sorry I made you more PO’s and angry than you already were Ian. I feel the same way and feel a bit betrayed by our political leadership. It makes no sense to argue about strategy and some good may come out of this yet. It’s beyond all of us and I think the cost of failure may be even too high for the morons on the right even though they won’t admit it publicly. My gripe is that the President has been drifting rightward every month and he seems more interested in trying to appease those ungrateful barbarians than doing anything for the people who elected him.

  19. “There is no public option because the Dems. have been bought and paid for by the banking and insurance lobby”

    To say the Dems sold out again is technically untrue. Only some Dems about six or seven in the senate and around twenty in the house have sold out. Which is why losing the seat doesn’t really mean anything in my opinion.

    “you certainly did write that the President never promised”

    I never wrote anything even close to that, read my posts again, I’m done with this pointless wordplay, you are obviously overreacting and painting our president and the entire democratic party with a broad brush based on one lousy senate seat.

  20. Let’s face it, it doesn’t make any difference whether the Dems have 60 votes or 99 votes. They will always be cravenly capitulating to the lunatic extreme right and giving away the farm for the sake of “bipartisanship”. They are scared to death that Karl Rove will say nasty things about them on Fox “News”, even more scared than of losing re-election. They just can’t get it into their heads that the lunatic right will call them communo-fascist satanist atheists no matter what they do, so they might as well do the right thing. They are a bunch of spineless cowards and Lance Armstrong has more balls than the lot of them put together. They must be the only political party on earth who thinks that their base is the people who don’t vote for them and will never in a million years vote for them.

  21. You said it, Ray. And no, uncledad, I’m not overreacting and painting our president and the whole democratic party with a broad brush based on loss of one Senate seat; I’m overreacting and painting our president and the whole democratic party with a broad brush based on their abysmal and lackluster performance of their last eight months in office holding all of the levers of power in this country. And then the alleged leadership trying to hide behind the lamest excuse that they don’t have a “filibuster proof” majority of 60.

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  23. “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.” Mark Twain

    The question is – what lessons will both parties take from the Massachusetts special election. Whoever divines the right answers from the tea leaves of current events has the edge in November. This is recent from Gallup:

    “PRINCETON, NJ — As Massachusetts prepares for its high-visibility special Senate election on Jan. 19, a new Gallup analysis shows that the state has significantly more residents identifying as political independents (49%) than as Democrats (35%). The percent identifying themselves as Democratic matches the national average, while the percent independent is well above the national norm. Many Massachusetts independents, however, lean toward the Democratic Party.”

    Three months ago – this was the news:

    “Plattsburgh, NY (AHN) – Democrat Bill Owens has won the special election in the largely Republican 23rd congressional district of New York, defeating the candidate of the Conservative Party of New York, Doug Hoffman. The race was notable for the division between conservatives and GOP leaders, who had chosen state Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava, a moderate, over Hoffman.”

    Ponder this a moment. In the last 3 months we saw a Democrat elected to the House in a district so Republican that it’s been owned by the GOP for a century. And in Massachusetts, a teabagger, takes the seat Ted Kennedy vacated by death. The party-driven politics we grew up with are dead.

    From the Washington Post, 3 months ago:

    “Only 20 percent of adults identify themselves as Republicans, little changed in recent months, but still the lowest single number in Post-ABC polls since 1983. Political independents continue to make up the largest group, at 42 percent of respondents; 33 percent call themselves Democrats. ”

    Clearly anything can happen in politics today – more than the cat on the stove, we have to figure out what the burning force is. As a liberal voter, I am driven by ideology – so is the conservative voter and we tend to cancel each other out. In the middle is the independent voter who has rejected the ideology of both parties. HIS/HER vote settles the election. How they decide is the hot stove issue.

    The voter who is not motivated by ideology is moved by character. That’s why any election can go either way. The teabagger who lost in NY23 was ignorant on local issues and motivated by the opportunity to spotlight teabagger issues. In Massachusetts the teabagger connected with the voters while the Democratic candidate acted like her nomination made the election a formality, going on vacation during the campaign and making off-the-cuff remarks that made Bush look smart by comparison. It’s not enough though, to smear and blame the loosing candidate without examining what moves the voter.

    Here’s the searing hot fact for the House Democrats who must decide to pass health care or cut-and-run. This is my opinion. It doesn’t matter what you do – because the independent voters who will decide your election are deciding if you care about THEM. If you convince them you really care, you keep your job. If the teabagger convinces the independents he really cares, you can start packing.

    Does it send a message that you care to allow 44,000 people to die each year for lack of health care? Does it say you care to allow the insurance companies to deny coverage or rescind coverage? Does it say you care to allow the skyrocketing cost of health care to bankrupt this country when there is something you can do now?

    Or can you convince the independent doing nothing is the caring thing?

    The voters who will decide your reelection aren’t sure about health care – they want you to demonstrate to them that THEY matter more then YOU matter. It’s how Ted Kennedy was elected 9 times. Do the right thing.

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  25. Why do these 44,000 people each year not have health care? Are they being turned away at emergency rooms? And there’s no current charity or government plan to help them?

    • Why do these 44,000 people each year not have health care? Are they being turned away at emergency rooms? And there’s no current charity or government plan to help them?

      Posts like this make me tired. Sir, it’s a myth that people get “health care” from going to emergency rooms. Emergency rooms that take public funding are required to stabilize people, but not to treat underlying conditions. So, if a person comes into an emergency room in a diabetic coma, the emergency room is required to bring that person out of the coma but not to provide ongoing treatment for the diabetes.

      Now, many emergency rooms do attempt to provide more than just emergency service to people who show up with health problems. But the problem of treating emergency rooms as if they were walk-in clinics is that emergency rooms have very high overhead and cost an enormous amount of money to operate, because they have to have all kinds of high-tech gizmos on hand for, you now, emergencies. Treating non-emergency problems through emergency rooms is a hugely wasteful, not-cost-effective way to provide health care services to poor people. The price of everything else the hospital provides has to be jacked up to pay for all the people being treated through emergency rooms who can’t pay for the treatment. So you end up paying for that care through your taxes and jacked-up health insurance premiums.

      You’d actually save money just paying doctors to see poor people in their offices. But we’re not supposed to do that, because it’s “socialism” (it isn’t really, but never mind), but it’s not “socialism” to expect people to go to emergency rooms for treatment at far higher cost. How this is supposed to be logical escapes me.

      As for charity or government plans — there are big cracks. Lots of people fall through them.

  26. First, uncledad – your response(s) were right on the money. I think Maha is still irritated with me for being confrontational – but you said what I would have – but more politley. (no ‘idiot’, ‘meathead’, ‘moron’ etc.)

    Second – thanks Joan – high praise indeed from a writer.

    Third – freD “Speaking of Owens, what percentage of voters mindlessly choose the guy who looks more like ”a winner”?

    In Florida, they aren’t putting the candidate’s picture on the ballot. New York may be more progressive, but I think the only thing they list on the ballot besides the name is party affiliation. freD, I’m not allowed to call names, but you may pick from the selection at the end of my first paragraph.

    “Why do these 44,000 people each year not have health care? Are they being turned away at emergency rooms? And there’s no current charity or government plan to help them?”

    Whenever I hear this comment, all I can think of is the performace by George Scott in ‘A Christmas Carol’ where he plays Scrooge.

    “Are there no poorhouses, no prisons?”

    “Then let them die, and decrease the surpus population!”

    BSking – you don’t rate as highly as freD, so you can’t pick from the end of the first paragraph – and any appropriate desription would get my comment deleted. Use your imagination but I’m probably thinking worse.

  27. First of all, I REALLY enjoyed the banter between Uncledad, joneric , and ray.
    I’ve been out of town all week, and the latest IT rule regarding my “company computer” is that I cannot use it for blogging, so I have to sit on the sidelines until I return home.

    Maha, you were a complete lady in response to Blacksmithking.
    I have several friends who share his opinion, and your response was spot on.
    My late brother, who was an R.N. before he fell into a drunken stupor, used the emergency room for “health care” which killed him in the end.
    Emergency rooms are designed for emergencies, like stitching up a wound, emergency care after hours, and trauma, NOT providing “health care”.

    I hate to say it, but I’m afraid Coakley lost the race because her opponent is an attractive white male, not much more than that.Palin’s popularity is also mostly due to her looks. Most people are not political junkies like us, most care more about their sport teams and show-biz gossip ( and their bank account).

  28. Doug Hughes,
    You missed the point: Scott Brown. You can’t chock that win up to Massachusetts greed (we got our state HC, screw you), liberal disenchantment or an unusual conservative turnout. I say there is a sizeable percentage of dedicated voters who vote impulsively and conservative strategists are well aware of this. They produce a brand name that’s marketed and packaged for votes, not qualification. I thought everybody here (ex. erinyes) knew this. Sorry if you really do look like yoda and I offended you.

    I’ll ask the question again. Speaking of Brown, what percentage of voters mindlessly choose the guy who looks more like ”a winner”?

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