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Don't forget to blame the Senate

A lot of the onus for health care's sudden derailing has been placed on the House, which is bafflingly opposed to passing the Senate bill. But the Senate isn't making life any easier, refusing to do the one thing that would make the House comfortable with the Senate bill. Politico reports:

Part of the negotiations center on whether Reid can provide an ironclad guarantee that the Senate will not leave the House in the lurch, aides said. If the House agrees to pass the Senate bill with a companion measure — or a “cleanup” bill — to make fixes, they want to know that the Senate will indeed pass it, too.

There was some talk among Senate leadership on Thursday of putting together a letter signed by 51 Democratic senators pledging to pass a cleanup bill if the House would pass the Senate bill. But that effort fizzled when support for it didn’t materialize, insiders said.

“The Senate moderates’ viewpoint is, ‘We passed our bill. We’re not going to spend three weeks on some other bill,’” said a Democratic lobbyist who represents clients pushing for reform.

"We're not going to spend three weeks on some other bill." Oy. And keep in mind that, like the Senate, the House has passed its bill as well. What was supposed to be happening right now is a package of compromise amendments that both the House and the Senate would pass.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 22, 2010; 8:19 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform , Senate  
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Next: The failure narratives continue

Comments

Can there be any other explanation besides many politicians are more than a little bit stupid? Corruption? Sure. Here's an excuse to run from a bill. I guess these aren't mutually exclusive.

Posted by: simmonslcsw | January 22, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I blame all of them.

The weirdest part of all of this is just how silent the actual leader of the Democratic party is. Where is he in the time of actual need? Shouldn't he be pushing for passage of the Senate bill in the House? At least that would be an achievemnt! Right now all they have to present the public is utter failure of the Healthcare bill.

The MA loss didn't really bother me much. In the Grand Scheme of things, it's a blip.

The disgust I feel is from the Democrat wimps not passing the bill once they're at the finish line. Cowards.

I'm not a lap dog. I will be supporting whomever is willing to fight for my goals, be he/she moderate, liberal or conservative. And I bet 99% of the people out there are the same. Democrats are currently showing to the entire world that they lack the ability to govern and can't handle being in power.

Pitiful.

Posted by: JERiv | January 22, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The is almost beyond belief. To spend so much time and effort on this bill, and invest so much political capital, then refuse to spend a few more weeks on it to finish the process...and these people call themselves our leaders?

This seems like a pretty good indication that, if this fails now, it will be many, many years, before it's taken up again, and the cost of that, both in physical suffering and dollars will be immense. Huge. It also seems to indicate that any attempt by the House to pass a different, smaller bill, will get the same response from the Senate, because, God-forbid, they'd have to put even more effort in the process.

Plus, any new bill from the House that needs to meet the 60 vote margin of approval will simply die in the Senate, since 60 votes are no longer there. The Republicans are not going to let anything pass, because this is simply a Political game to them - a game which doesn't hurt them at all, but takes a terrible toll on the rest of us.

Posted by: tnoord | January 22, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

they're worried about 3 weeks?

So they're OK with wasting two years approximately (since the start of reform talk in its latest version) but another three weeks is too much?

Its amazing that this was so crucial to Pelosi et al before but now they can't stomach passing the Senate bill? Someone needs to press her on that and ask her WHY she won't whip the votes for the Senate bill. She certainly has proven before of being capable of twisting arms of her caucus. This time should not only be no different and she of all people should know that.

Yes we can blame the Senate too but there's plenty of blame to go around.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 22, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

This is like resolving a dispute between kids.

It doesn't *matter* who started it, someone needs to step up and resolve it!

If *anyone* would step up and say "we'll swallow our pride and go first" - whether it's the Senate to agree to a compromise addition or the House to just pass the Senate bill it would all be over.

And yes, what should be the biggest adult in the room, President Obama, isn't much help, either.

Posted by: bmrobert64 | January 22, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Instead of signing a "pledge," why doesn't the Senate simply pass a reconciliation bill before the House votes on anything? That way the House has nothing to fear. Both houses need to agree to changes, then the Senate can write them in a reconciliation bill pre-approved by the House. This doesn't seem that complicated. A pledge is a really dumb idea.

Posted by: thefourthbranchcom | January 22, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

That is simply unbelievable! If this is the Democratic party, they deserve to lose in November, and continue to lose for the foreseeable future. The ironic thing is that it is the moderates who will suffer the most, since they are the most dependent on the base turning out for them in closely contested elections. Ain't gonna happen now.

Let's just hope that some sense can be talked into them.

Posted by: hansr | January 22, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

By the way, the Senate concern- that it can't pass a reconciliation bill amending the Senate bill until the Senate bill is law- is also dumb. Neither bill would be law until signed by the president. The president would merely sign the Senate bill first (making it law) and then sign the reconciliation bill (which then amends an existing law). This is not a real obstacle. Instead, this path presents the best remaining shot at enacting health care reform.

See our additional thoughts here:

http://www.thefourthbranch.com/2010/01/the-message-our-elected-officials-should-have-gotten/

Posted by: thefourthbranchcom | January 22, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The rule for evaluating the Bush administration was that "what they're doing is worse than you think they are, even when you're already expecting them to be worse than you think they are."

Apparently, Democrats are worse at getting the job done than you think they are-- even when you've already factored in that they're worse than you think they are.

Unbe-freaking-lievible.

Posted by: adamiani | January 22, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Hate to be political correct here, but could you please not use the name of God in vain: ""We're not going to spend three weeks on some other bill." Christ." If that is not profanity, it sure is offensive to a large number of people, myself included.

Posted by: t_seltzer | January 22, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

This is insane. And, yes, I blame the House for being unable to see that just passing something establishes that idea that every american has a right to health care, which is a huge big deal. It completely changes the discussion going forward by moving the starting point many steps ahead. Could there be a better bill than the Senate version? Absolutely. Is it better than nothing? Obviously. They need to pass the damned thing and then start tweaking. If they can't get the tweaks in right away, this is still better then nothing. They're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that's just stupid.

Posted by: jaye_eldridge | January 22, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

t-seltzer, the "Christ" comment was shorthand for invoking the Sermon on the Mount, in which Christ exhorted his followers to care for the meek, the poor, and the sick, which is what the Senate is refusing to do.

I'm not Ezra, but just wanted to clear that up.

Posted by: KathyF | January 22, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Much of the time the legislative process is recondite and opaque to the outsider and we just have to trust that the representatives we elect are doing the best they can.

Sometimes the process is blatantly clear and we get an insight into their psychology. This is one of those times.

As JERiv put it, Massachusetts wasn't that big a deal. The Democratic response to it is everything.

Do the leaders of the Democrats understand that this isn't just about health care anymore, no matter how big that is? Do they understand the bond beyond them and their followers is just about to give way? If they just give up here, do they understand that our trust in them will be shattered?

How hard is this to figure out?

Posted by: robbins2 | January 22, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

KathyF, that reference is, at best, oblique.

I'm just saying that as a sign of mutual respect people shouldn't use the names of holy figures from any religion to make a point. There are other, non-offensive ways, aren't there?

Posted by: t_seltzer | January 22, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I tell my children not to take the Lord's name in vain. I will not be telling them that when they are 25 years old. Ezra is a big boy (despite the fact that, when he was born, I was busy programming in Microsoft BASIC on my TRS-80 Color Computer while rocking out to "99 Luftballons" by Nena. Sigh) and can make his own decisions.

But that's not actually my point. My point is, the people most to blame for this are the Republicans (or to take the credit, if you prefer). They are the one's who have been standing in the way of this, almost from day one. Even so-called RINOs in the senate have been no votes. And without those RINOs towing the party lot, Scott Brown's 41st vote would have been irrelevant.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 22, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I agree with JERiv. Show some balls Obama. Get it done, move on, get re-elected. You are one house vote away from saying you "transformed" healthcare (we know you really didn't but the media won't care).

Rhetoric is nice, but where's the fast-eddy Chicago Obama that was supposedly under the professor's skin. GET IT DONE!

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | January 22, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I think the fact that the Supreme Court just ruled for unlimited corporate ownership of politics is part of the reason why politicians are filled with insouciance now. They know, we the voters are now irrelevant. All they have to do is become the "place corporate name here" senator or representative. It takes a lot less time and effort to be a corporate shill. They don't have to attend endless fundraiser or beg for my 20, 50 or 100 dollar donations anymore. They are insulated against voter anger by corporate cash. To get the votes all they need to do is to gin up some social issue to bring radicals to the ballot box on election day. I expect a lot more gay/ abortion/ amnesty votes in our future.

Posted by: cminmd1 | January 22, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

If saying "Christ" or "Jesus" in that way is not profanity, what is? Carlin's Seven Prohibited Words? I find the former much more offensive than the latter.

Washington Post, please clarify!

Posted by: t_seltzer | January 22, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Don't be afraid to be specific, Ezra. Speak truth, it's powerful.

It's not the house! They've been done with health care, energy, could pass EFCA tomorrow.

It's about 5 senators and the WH. Obama has been totally absent, and when he does finally stick his head up it is to screw working people.

In the senate, the vast majority have made sacrifices to see the process through. They (stupidly) chose a route that required everyone to be on board, which let lie-berman, nelson, Baucus, landrieu, lincoln, and a few others much up the whole thing for their corporate benefactors.

Lie-berman (I-Insurance industry)
Lincoln (D-Wal-Mart)
Baucus (D-corporate interests, insurance, pharma...)
Ben Nelson (D-who knows?)
Lincoln (D-Lincoln herself)

Those folks deserve all the blame, with the WH.

We're getting 'change that CEO's can sign-off on', which is not what we voted for.

Something is gonna change, either we'll get a totally destructive midterm or these folks better shape up!

Posted by: rat-raceparent | January 22, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

FYI - Everyone has got to stop freaking out and pressure senators to do the right thing.

The house is okay here, they are trying to get a decent bill.

Obama will surely address this in SOTU, and probably will let it go until then. At that point, senators better pass a fix through reconciliation -- because if the house moves first, we'll be stuck with senate bill!

Posted by: rat-raceparent | January 22, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

It's refreshing to read comments from people I agree w/; I was beginning to feel quite alone.

I place full blame on the Senate and WH. The House has (excuse my French) bent over too many times and for too long. They did their part, and now they're being pressured to give in again; no wonder they're balking. And give in to whom? A group of 100 ENTIRELY bought-and-paid-for Senators who have sacrificed nearly every good idea in the name of corporate interests. I've never felt so cynical...

And Obama? Truly disappointed that he's throwing in the towel. He never led this strongly enough, and now he's stepping away from the plate, when the finish line is still in sight.

My idea going forth--when uninsured middle-class persons, and small businesses going bankrupt, and couples with disabled partners who have had their insurance revoked, seek care, they should be asked: did you support health reform? If so, please come in and let me help you. If not, well, tough luck...move on...call your Senator.

Posted by: ihill1 | January 22, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Ezra for staying focused on health care. It's appearing as though the Dems are losing their focus on it, and Obama isn't helping. So far, it looks like a fiasco, and I may sit out 2010.

Posted by: fourseasons1 | January 22, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

It's refreshing to read comments from people I agree w/; I was beginning to feel quite alone.

I place full blame on the Senate and WH. The House has (excuse my French) bent over too many times and for too long. They did their part, and now they're being pressured to give in again; no wonder they're balking. And give in to whom? A group of 100 ENTIRELY bought-and-paid-for Senators who have sacrificed nearly every good idea in the name of corporate interests. I've never felt so cynical...

And Obama? Truly disappointed that he's throwing in the towel. He never led this strongly enough, and now he's stepping away from the plate, when the finish line is still in sight.

My idea going forth--when uninsured middle-class persons, and small businesses going bankrupt, and couples with disabled partners who have had their insurance revoked, seek care, they should be asked: did you support health reform? If so, please come in and let me help you. If not, well, tough luck...move on...call your Senator.

Posted by: ihill1 | January 22, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

We need a better name for these guys than "Senate moderates". There's nothing moderate about what they've been doing. Take a page from the GOP playbook and frame them with an appropriately-disparaging name that doesn't imply the Balanced Seriousness that "moderate" suggests.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | January 22, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Everything just changed!

CALIFORNIA IS TRYING TO GET SINGLE-PAYER. The California Senate Appropriations Committee just approved Thursday (yesterday) a proposal to set-up a single payer system in California. It goes to the full California Senate next week.

Google "California single-payer plan advances"

This immediately changes everything in the healthcare debate! Think!! California is the seventh biggest economy in the world and single-payer will cut into private insurers' profits in a very big way. Private health insurers are going to have to change tactics in Washington immediately, to prevent this from happening. They are going to have to go back and try to get a deal from the U.S. House.

This changes what progressives should do next. First, support the California bill.

Next, hold it up as a states' rights model and don't let the U.S. Congress pass any provision that would prevent a single payer in California or any other state.

This could not only get us all to a single-payer, and sooner rather than later. And it not only puts the corporate moderate Dems on notice.

It is also going to drive a wedge between the teapartiers and the corporate moderates in the Republican Party. What is Scott Brown going to say -- that he supported Massachusetts' healthcare reform but is against what California is doing because it goes further than the U.S. Congress' bill?!

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 22, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

If only there were a president with the leadership to issue a few dope slaps and pull the party together.

Posted by: pj_camp | January 22, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Democrats have always had an idea that they must lead and provide for their base, that is what is going to be their downfall, it is about whats right and good for the country, not a few supporters that will give ground cover to force their ideologies on the rest of the country. They have been to long in office and have a twisted view of true leadership and common ground that all Americans need for success and progress. Redefining marriage and family is their biggest mistake, because without that common ground and protection of family and blood, all other things fall prey to deception and corruption. The Progressive Liberals are Creating a Diabolical Society and even the
Attorney General states she is not privy to the facts, when in fact she was. We send the innocent to jail and let the sexual child abusers run free, curling iron and all. This is our reality, incompetent people running the country that is falling into the pits of Hell

http://www.massresistance.org
http://www.drjudithreisman.org
http://www.silentscream.org
Also google Boston Children's Hospital Sex Change Clinic
Dawn Stefanowic Out from Under
Also Amazon.com You're Teaching my Child What?
I could go on and on with sexual depravity protected by or legislators and representatives!

Posted by: boski66 | January 22, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Drop the whole dam bill, it was never a bill in the first place, pants on the floor, legislators out the door, drop em, bend over and I'll give you your S.T.D. Shots!

Posted by: boski66 | January 22, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, Thanks for updating to "Oy"

Posted by: t_seltzer | January 22, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

3 weeks, that's just so much work for giving tens of millions health insurance for generations. It's really too much to ask.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | January 22, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

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