Here is what I had to say about the effect Ted Kennedy's passing would have on the health care reform debate.
I get that a lot of people are hoping that Massachusetts changes their rules to allow Governor Deval Patrick to quickly name a place holder for Senator Kennedy's seat in case they need that 60th vote for cloture. But honestly I think that the truth is having that seat open helps the cause of health care reform.
The truth is I am not at all confident that even if we have 60 bodies in the Senate that claim to be Democrats that all of them will vote for cloture on the kind of a health care reform bill than any self respecting liberal or progressive would find acceptable. And its a pipe dream to believe that some how because Senator Kennedy passed that a few Republicans will find their honor and sanity. So THE avenue for getting a health care reform bill through Congress this year that actually represents change and reform is going to have to come through the reconcilliation process in the Senate.
Now the one thing that the media has been really terrible at is being realistic and honest about the Democrats' so called "Super Majority" in the Senate anyway. With Senator Kennedy having terminal cancer and Senator Robert Byrd being very old and, of late, sickly, it was always a Super Majority only on paper. For that reason we would have always needed at least one or two Republicans to vote for cloture and that's not even taking into account needing to do the humongous job of cat herding every single one of the Democrats to do the same. In short it never looked good for that.
However now the prospect of a Super Majority is gone and the realization is that cloture might as well be 10 votes away as it is one with the understanding that that one vote will have to come from a Republican bucking their whole party. In essence even if we could buy off one or two Republicans to vote for cloture on a health care bill it would probably be at such a high cost for our side that the bill would suck and such a high cost for them personally that they would HAVE to change parties. I don't see that happening.
But what I can see now is Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin being able to make a much stronger case to the Democratic caucus for why we should and must use reconciliation to get this done. And at this point I would say that the media is at a point where they would also be inclined to keep making the case that reconcilliation is the way to go since there is no 60th vote for cloture. Bigger than that if Republicans continue to be obstinant about not even attempting to work with Democrats on the bill I think this is a moment in time where the media will finally call them out in the wake of Ted Kennedy's passing.
Now honestly I didn't see pretty much anybody else looking at the situation that way. I heard a lot about trying to get lawmakers in Massachusetts to change the law so that Governor Deval Patrick could appoint a place holder until a special election could be held next year. I also heard a LOT of people saying that it probably meant the death of the public option. Now I am not saying I was literally the only one who made the prediction of Teddy's passing bringing on a push for reconcilliation but I'm just saying if there were others there were only a handful.
Well lets take a look at the New York Times editorial board today:
The talk in Washington is that Senate Democrats are preparing to push through health care reforms using parliamentary procedures that will allow a simple majority to prevail in their chamber, as it does in the House, instead of the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster that Senate Republicans are sure to mount.
With the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, the Democrats do not have the votes just among their 57 members (and the two independents) to break a filibuster, and not all of these can be counted on to vote in lock step. If the Democrats want to enact health care reform this year, they appear to have little choice but to adopt a high-risk, go-it-alone, majority-rules strategy.
We say this with considerable regret because a bipartisan compromise would be the surest way to achieve comprehensive reforms with broad public support. But the ideological split between the parties is too wide — and the animosities too deep — for that to be possible.
In recent weeks, it has become inescapably clear that Republicans are unlikely to vote for substantial reform this year. Many seem bent on scuttling President Obama’s signature domestic issue no matter the cost. As Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, so infamously put it: “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
Superficially seductive calls to scale down the effort until the recession ends or to take time for further deliberations should be ignored. There has been more than enough debate and the recession will almost certainly be over before the major features of reform kick in several years from now. Those who fear that a trillion-dollar reform will add to the nation’s deficit burden should remember that these changes are intended to be deficit-neutral over the next decade.
Delay would be foolish politically. The Democrats have substantial majorities in the House and the Senate this year. Next year, as the midterm elections approach, it will be even harder for legislators to take controversial stands. After the elections, if history is any guide, the Democratic majorities could be smaller.
The Democrats are thus well advised to start preparing to use an arcane parliamentary tactic known as “budget reconciliation” that would let them sidestep a Republican filibuster and approve reform proposals by a simple majority.
The approach is risky. Reconciliation bills are primarily intended to deal with budget items that affect the deficit, not with substantive legislation like health care reform. Senators could challenge as “extraneous” any provisions that do not change spending or revenues over the next five years, or would have a budget impact that is “merely incidental” to some broader policy purpose, or would increase the deficit in Year 6 and beyond.
So how much of the proposed health care reforms could plausibly fit into a reconciliation bill? The answer seems to be: quite a lot, though nobody knows for sure.
Knowledgeable analysts from both parties believe that these important elements of reform will probably pass muster because of their budgetary impact: expansion of Medicaid for the poor; subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance; new taxes to pay for the trillion-dollar program; Medicare cuts to help finance the program; mandates on individuals to buy insurance and on employers to offer coverage; and tax credits to help small businesses provide insurance.
Even the public plan so reviled by Republicans could probably qualify, especially if it is given greater power than currently planned to dictate the prices it will pay to hospitals, doctors, drug companies and other providers, thus saving the government lots of money in subsidies.
Did you get that? Not only is the New York Times editorial board now ADVISING the Democrats to use reconcilliation. The are also pointing out that the public option could make it through as well if it is STRENGTHENED!
Yall are going to have to excuse me while I go to the store and get buy me a green game blunt and a lottery ticket.
Yes I am feeling myself right now, so sue me lol.