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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Surveying the Damage

I'm getting sort of a late start today, so this one's probably going to be pretty short. See, we don't have to give a crap about Joe Lieberman anymore.

OK, so that's way too short. I'll expand on things a bit. In case you missed it, turns out Scott Brown won that special election in Massachusetts. As a result, the Democratic caucus doesn't have that 60 seat majority in the Senate anymore. Now, someone point me to an instance where we had it before. On the issue of healthcare reform, a "filibuster-proof" majority was entirely theoretical.

If you're looking for good news to take away from this, I've got plenty. First off, the Democrats now have the second largest majority any party has had since the 70s. This majority is only eclipsed by the one they had before. Second, this loss of the supposedly sixtieth seat has knocked the training wheels off Harry Reid's bike. He's going to have to run this thing they way the vast majority of Senate majority leaders have in the past. Third -- and I've already mentioned this -- Lieberman, along with Nelson, Lincoln, Landrieu, et. al., have been defanged. The number Democrats have to shoot for now is fifty-one. Divas can pout and wail all they want, but their stock just dropped through the floor.

In the House, the mood among the leadership is defiant.

Talking Points Memo:

In the hours and minutes before Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, House Democratic leadership sounded resilient, even optimistic notes about the possibility of passing health care reform anyhow. But that puts them at odds with their rank and file members, particularly progressives, who, based on press reports and interviews conducted as returns were coming in, but before the race was called, now have a hard time seeing an endgame.

I think people are missing the big picture here. There are uninsured people right now. And those people are suffering the consequences of that lack of coverage right now. 45,000 people die every year because they lack coverage. Republicans don't care about that, Blue Dogs don't care about that, Joe Lieberman doesn't care about that, and now progressives don't care about that? Please. Calling the current situation in America a "healthcare crisis" is in no way hyperbolic. If we drop this now, 45,000 people will die. That's more than 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina combined -- in fact, multiply the total for both by nine and you still come up short. We're not going to do anything about that?


If House progressive can't do the right thing, swallow the lousy Senate bill, and go back to fix it with separate legislation (and they totally should), then the Senate should go with budget reconciliation. A lot of the immediate provisions can be passed on a majority vote and the ones that wouldn't have kicked in for a few years anyway can be passed later.

It should not be forgotten that Harry Reid and Max Baucus blew this round by wasting time looking for Republican votes they didn't need. This thing was going to be done in August. It's tempting to say that Baucus and Reid couldn't get their crap together, but it's more accurate to say they refused to.

Baucus is out of the picture at this point and he really should have as many knives hanging out of his back as anyone this morning. But Reid is still a player. If he can't get it together now, then he just plain can't get it together.

And Senate Democrats should find someone who can.


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