Saturday, January 30, 2010

Close to a deal

If Tom Harkin is right, and the White House, Senate, and House reached a deal just days before Scott Brown won the special election in Massachusetts, giving the Republicans 41 seats instead of just 40, enough to block legislation with a filibuster, what the hell's the problem now?

Yes, the Democrats came "agonizingly close" to passing final reform legislation, but one extra Republican vote shouldn't prevent that from happening, not with other options on the table.

Democrats could seek to win over a Republican, like Maine moderates Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, to put them over 60 votes in the Senate, including independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, but Snowe, who voted for the Finance Committee bill that is a lot like the one she ended up rejecting, has shown no signs she's prepared to break ranks and vote against her party, which is stressing lock-step obstructionist unanimity.

And, again, there's a better option, as we keep saying over and over: The House could pass the Senate bill as is and improvements to the bill could then be made through reconciliation. Improvements could include adding a public option component, as in the House's bill, and/or expanding Medicare and Medicaid coverage. While doing so would lose the Democrats some votes in the Senate -- Even Bayh, Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Lieberman, etc. -- they have a large enough majority to sustain a few defections. Brown's victory in Massachusetts did change the landscape somewhat, but it didn't change the reality that Congress remains in the hands of relatively huge Democratic majorities. And that should count for something -- enough for them to pass meaningful legislation without having to suck up to the obstructionist minority.

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  • the reality that Congress remains in the hands of relatively huge Democratic majorities...

    No, no, it's all the Republicans' fault! And Scott Brown's fault!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:53 PM  

  • That would be President Scott Brown, of course.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 9:22 PM  

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