Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Plan B

In a few hours, Massachusetts voters will start heading to the polls to determine whether or not Martha Coakley or Scott Brown will fill the Senate seat previously held by Teddy Kennedy.  If, God forbid, Brown should win, health care reform could be in immediate jeopardy.  To prepare you for that possibility, here is one way forward that we may see, and it’s best to understand it in advance, just in case…

PlanB A new way forward on health care is gaining some traction among Democrats, who are preparing for the possibility that Democrat Martha Coakley will lose her bid to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate, costing Democrats their 60th vote, which they'll need to overcome the filibuster.

The House has been preparing to tweak the Senate bill with a package of amendments based on a deal reached last week with organized labor, send it back to the upper chamber for final passage, and claim victory. But Coakley could well lose her race, depriving Democrats of the 60th vote they'd need to overcome a filibuster, and that unthinkable possibility is forcing party leaders to consider a Plan.

As I noted last week, the House could simply pass the Senate bill unchanged, and Obama could sign reform into law. As recently as last week, a number of high-profile Democrats were saying that would never fly. But many are now suggesting that the House might still pull through, if House members are promised that the deal they agreed to last week will be passed separately--and quickly--through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told the Boston Globe, the idea is "well within the scope of the rules of the Senate," and, indeed, the deal with labor is largely a change to the tax structure of the bill, which is the sort of issue the reconciliation process is designed to address.

But there's another, extremely important X-factor.

Even if progressives can be convinced, in light of the Massachusetts curveball, to hold tight and pass the Senate bill, there's still the question of whether vulnerable members (freshmen, sophomores, red-state Democrats) will react to the loss of Kennedy's seat in sky-Blue Massachusetts with panic, and rush for the exits… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

I think that alternative is a better one that allowing the GOP to defeat the bill altogether, and as long as the reconciliation deal is clearly spelled out, I could go along with this approach.

However, a far better solution would be for Coakley to win.  Brown has no business in the Senate, as Keith Olbermann explains.  I’ll leave you with his special comment.

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Infidel753 said...

Well, this is what we need -- not moaning and recriminations but a plan of action.

As for those "vulnerable members", it needs to be made clear to them that "panic" won't help them. They've already voted for reform once and Republicans will attack them on that basis no matter what happens now. The best way to neutralize such attacks is to pass the bill so that by November, voters will be seeing some benefits from it.

Of course, if Brown wins, 41 Republicans will be able to stymie any future legislation we need. The Senate needs to take up the issue of changing its rules so that 60 votes are no longer needed to end a filibuster, so that it can start doing business more democratically.

Even if Coakley wins, 40 Republicans plus Lieberman can be a pretty effective roadblock under the current rules, as we've seen. So the filibuster still needs to be fixed.

-The Reaganite Republican- said...

This Alinskyite toady would call Mother Theresa a “hoochie mama” if it got Dear Leader a half-dozen votes- appalling.

I love how they paint their opponents as “not discussing the issues” right before launching into a character assasination- John “Lurch” Kerry did the same thing yesterday. At least they’re disciplined and working off the same script- if you don’t mind glaring hypocrisy.

Of course many Obot hacks like Olberman had their wagons not just hooked, but WELDED to the Hopenchange pony… now lame.

And it’s not unusual for people get nasty and lash-out when it becomes clear they’ve blown a reckless all-or-nothing bet…

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha- loser


Lisa G. said...

This would be very detrimental to the passage of future legislation if Brown wins.

TomCat said...

Infidel, the problem with changing the filibuster rule is that it requires 67 votes to do so. That means all 58 Dems, including Bush dogs, 1 Independent, and 8 Repuglicans (counting LIEberscum in his proper camp). Not likely. What we will see, if Coakley loses, is greater use of Budget Reconciliation, which is immune from the filibuster.

RR, Alinskyite? Obot? Are you OK? May I respectfully suggest that the chicken hasn't hatched yet, but even if you win this vote, you and your ilk are marching lock-step into political oblivion. The GOP is in its death-throes. America and the world will be far better for it.

TomCat said...

Sorry I missed you, Lisa. It would but there is still the reconciliation process.

Kevin Kelley said...

Sounds like a plan...

I always wondered regarding this health bill why Democrats were opposed to it because it didn't do enough. Pass a bill that can be passed and work on later amendments...

Keep what works and tweak what doesn't. We are not going to get it right the first try and everybody needs to realize that!

TomCat said...

Kevin, I can't blame folks for wanting more. I'm a single-payer guy myself, but for now I'll take what I can get and campaign for fixing it. The first hurdle is the highest in such matters.

ivan said...

Even Canadian Conservative sites are starting to take notice.
There was one comment on (by, I think, a Canadian Liberal, near the bottom of ChuckerCanuck 2.0 blog, --that suggested Obama had been ambushed in the alley and someone has to set the liberal ship right.

Infidel753 said...

Infidel, the problem with changing the filibuster rule is that it requires 67 votes to do so.

According to this, there are ways around that.

Annette said...

There is not a need for 67 votes to kill the filibuster...That is not in the constitution at all... Here is what VP Biden had to say in Florida on Sunday:

"As long as I have served ... I've never seen, as my uncle once said, the constitution stood on its head as they've done. This is the first time every single solitary decisions has required 60 senators," Biden said. "No democracy has survived needing a supermajority"

TomCat said...

Ivan, take a look at today's editorial to see how much I agree with that.

Thank you so much, Infidel. In addition to requiring 67 votes at any time, the Senate may change the rule by majority vote on the first day of a new session, which begins on January 3 each year. Sadly, it looks like we just missed the deadline for this year. :-(

Annette, I agree with both you and Biden, but this is not a Constitutional issue. See my reply to Infidel.