Tag Archive: health care reform

Sitting back, and relaxing

The grassroots movement that swept Obama into office sat back and relaxed following 2008’s historic presidential victory, wrongly believing the job was done.

That’s a remark attributed to – and agreed on between – Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and former NJ State campaign director Mark Alexander, in a forum last week on President Obama’s 1st year. They say the tea party movement happened on your watch; you and your “relaxing” left a void that the tea party filled.

Oh … really? I will acknowledge some post-election exhale, which I imagine they both enjoyed themselves. But, really, who sat back here? We elected a President who told us if we brought the hope, he’d deliver change. And yet, who sat back? Obama, and his people did. The activists have been calling for public option for months – hosting public forums, writing letters, lobbying. And the president is walking on the sticky paper of bi-partisanship, unwilling or unable to lead a majority-Dem Congress to reform, unable to inspire, unable for most of the time even to articulate his position. Or worse, making stirring public option speeches while undermining the effort by sending Rahm Emanuel and Kathleen Sebelius to whisper to legislators, No worries, he doesn’t really mean it. The prez gets a partial-save for deftly maneuvering the truculent GOP into the party of NO wall recently. But it’s too little, too late.

We called for repeal of ENDA and DADT, and he has not used his power.

A smart friend of mine said of this, The activists used their tools and power, to identify issues that need reform and elect those in support. The President has to use his tools and power – which is to make like LBJ and twist arms and drive strong legislation. We did our part, he didn’t.  

Live Streaming the Bi-Partisan Health Care Summit

The players: President Obama, Vice-President Obama, and members of the House & Senate from both parties, including Rep. Rob Andrews, who chairs the House Education and Labor subcommittee on health.  

The Location: Blair House, across the street from the White House, significantly at the President’s end of the national Mall.

Interesting analysis of what the President’s after today, from Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic.

Donor information for all the speakers is at Sunlight Foundation (info changes depending on who’s at the microphone – turn off the sound at their site, if you’re listening to our stream here).

Meeting started 10am, but I just grabbed the feed. Click the arrow to go LIVE.


Rob Andrews will be in Thursday’s Heath Care Summit

TPMDC is reporting that Rob Andrews will be one of the participants at the big White House meeting on health care reform between Democrats and Republicans. As TPM’s Christiana Bellatoni observes:

Andrews, chairman of a health subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee, is not a fan of the excise tax that’s included in the Senate version of the bill and in President Obama’s plan he outlined yesterday.

Information about the meeting, and the President’s proposal, is at WhiteHouse.gov. The discussion might be interesting and I will try to watch it live Thursday 10AM. It will be streamed online.

As a practical matter, here are the possibilities Democrats face that don’t involve completely craven surrender, and you should keep them in mind as the pundits and politicians talk:

A. Pass a comprehensive bill through the House (217 votes) and Senate (51 votes, but 60 to beat the filibuster first), whether starting over or by modifying the existing bills after conference committee.  

B. The House passes last December’s Senate bill with 217 votes.  Not one word could be changed.

C. Pass health reforms that are budget-related through reconciliation, meaning 51 Senate votes (no filibuster) plus 217 House votes.

D. The House and Senate pass a series of smaller bills, each with 217 + 60/51 votes and lots of time used up in the Senate.

Option A seems highly unlikely, since 2009 was already wasted looking for Snowe’s vote and a Democrat vote was lost, so we’re into Options B+C. Pass the Senate bill (B), and “fix” it (excise tax, cough, cough) via reconciliation (C.) Some elements of Option D may also happen, for example, we’re supposed to see a House vote on repealing the health insurance industry’s anti-trust exemption.

ps. Thinking of 218? Some House seats are vacant.

His middle name is Winner

The following quote from public option advocate and Progressive Change Campaign co-founder Adam Green is so striking I had to post it:

The White House obviously has a loser mentality — but America rallies around winners. Polls show that in state after state, voters hate the Senate bill and overwhelmingly want a public option, even if passed with zero Republican votes. More than 50 Senate Democrats and 218 House Democrats were willing to vote for the public option before, and the only way to lose in reconciliation is if losers are leading the fight. That’s why Democrats in Congress should ignore the White House and follow those like Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez who know that the public option is a political and policy winner.

Now that we know he is the one of the first two names that come to mind when you think “winner,” I trust Senator Bob Menendez will never think he doesn’t get praise from the left.

The post our Senators should read

I’m glad to read that Senator Frank Lautenberg has signed the letter calling for a public option via reconciliation. We know Menendez has said favorable things about it last month.  But I hope they realize that while gestures are appreciated, they need to win for a change. And so I recommend what Digby says:

But I would warn them that if they think that building up the base’s hopes on this again only to fail to even get 50 out of 58 Democrats it isn’t going to work. If they are serious about rallying the base they need to deliver, period. No excuses. They have a majority. If they hold a vote that only requires 51, they need to win it.

I’m just praying they aren’t going to have a spirited losing debate on the floor and then go the Evan Bayh route yesterday when he was on TV, righteously blaming the Republicans for being obstructionists (good) but also blaming Democrats for making the “perfect the enemy of the good”. One more lecture about this and I’m going to put my foot through the TV. The truth of the matter is that liberals have been accommodating every damned step of the way, forced to eat dirt from backstabbers like Joe Lieberman and have been far more compromising than jackasses like Bart Stupak and Ben Nelson. It pays to remember that if liberals had their way we would be talking about a national, cradle to grave universal health care plan (Medicare for all) instead of this Rube Goldberg contraption that’s been put together with toothpicks and ear wax. So lectures about demanding perfection really need to be aimed at the vaunted “centrists” and the conservatives, who made this mess a necessary requirement for passage….

But if they are running the same game they ran before I can’t imagine how much worse they are making it for themselves. They need to be very, very serious about passing it. This Charlie Brown with the football routine is what’s killing them with the base. They just can’t afford to do it again.

I don’t think it’s hard for Blue Jersey readers to think of examples at the state level, but here there are really no excuses, because health care reform has been in the Democratic platform longer than most Americans have been alive. Pass a public option that covers anyone with a pre-existing condition, with subsidies for everyone without insurance and a tax on high incomes, and you are finished. And it’s more popular than the current bill.

Senate passes health care bill & Open Thread

Vote was 60-39. Both New Jersey senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez voted yes.

Update: We now know who the missing Republican was, that led to a 60-39 vote instead of 60-40. It was Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who was entitled to vote today, but is not running for re-election after heavy pressure from fellow Republicans to drop out.

Senators Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders, both lobbied heavily to vote no on deeply imperfect legislation, both voted yes.

Senator Robert Byrd, whose death or injury was wished for by some Republicans this holiday season, was wheeled in and cast his yes vote, adding, This is for my friend Ted Kennedy.

Senator Harry Reid brought the funny, but not on purpose. When the rollcall got to him, he voted loud and clear: No!

The clerk paused, as the room tensed up a little, to let an exhausted Senate Majority Leader catch up with what he just did, and change his vote. Which he did, as everybody in the room cracked up.

I only saw the last minute of the vote. There’s more to say, so consider this an Open Thread.  

Quote of the Day: Freshmen Mistakes

I thought this Washington Post article on Larry Kissell was pretty interesting, and it ended with a great candidate for “Quote of the Day:”

“It’s sort of like which devil do you fear the most?” asked Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic operative in North Carolina. “Are you more afraid of the party base or are you more afraid of the health-care reform opponents?”

Kissell picked the latter, and it may have been the wrong bet. Conservatives who oppose the reform effort are unlikely to vote for a Democrat regardless of how he votes, Pearce said, yet Kissell cannot win reelection without the support of his base.

“That’s why they call them freshmen — because they make freshmen mistakes,” he said. “That’s why a lot of them don’t become sophomores.”

You can figure out what this has to do with New Jersey.

Menendez defends woman’s reproductive rights

Senator Bob Menendez shines as he joins Frank Lautenberg and other senators in opposing and defeating Ben Nelson’s abortion amendment to the health care reform bill.

“This amendment would roll back the clock on a woman’s right to choose,” said Menendez. “It unfairly singles women out and takes away benefits they already have. It singles out our daughters and legislates limits on their reproductive health – their reproductive rights. If we were to do the same to men – if we were to single out men’s reproductive health in this legislation – imagine the outcry. Imagine if men were denied access to procedures. Imagine if they were denied access to prescription drugs. But that is exactly what we are doing to our daughters with this amendment – rolling back the hands of time. I personally find that offensive, as do women across this country. The language of this bill has been carefully negotiated to ensure that we are preserving a woman’s right to choose, but doing so without federal funding.  To claim otherwise is hypocritical and misleading.”

The roll call is here. Yea was effectively a vote to kill the amendment.  

Lautenberg on Obama Pep talk: Straighten up your spine

President Obama gave Senate Democrats a pep talk yesterday urging them to pass Healthcare Legislation. Senator Lautenberg described it this way:

New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg said Obama’s message “can be best summarized as ‘straighten up your spine.'”

He told this to the AP:

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said senators were moved to “deep reflection, and even some tears.”

Let’s hope the pep talk, reflection and tears lead to passage of bill.