15 December 2009


The insurance industry has certainly gotten its money's worth for the cash it has lavished on Joe Lieberman. It now looks like Senate Democrats are willing to retreat to a version of health-care reform without a public option or a Medicare expansion.

The Senate rules which allow for filibusters, under which sixty votes are required to get major legislation through, undermine the workings of representative democracy; a 58-vote majority is a mandate and should not be stymied like this. Senator Tom Harkin has proposed changing the rules to eliminate the problem. This would doubtless involve another big, long, nasty fight; it might, however, be best to have that fight and then revisit health-care reform with Lieberman (meaning the insurance companies which are paying him) no longer having a veto. That, however, is exactly the kind of bold strategy that the Democrats have so far shown little sign of embracing. (For those who say the Democrats should just ram the reform through using the reconciliation process, it's not that simple.)

Even without a public option or a Medicare expansion, the reform would not be completely meaningless. It would save some money. It would curb some of the worst of the insurance-company abuses (though those controls reportedly contain alarming loopholes). But it would just be tinkering with a broken system, not setting us on the path toward a better one. Americans would continue to experience more unnecessary death and suffering than people in other developed countries. Personal bankruptcies due to medical costs, which do not even exist in most of those countries, would continue to plague us. The Democrats have achieved a lot since taking over, but failures do happen, and this would be one.

Blogger Leslie Parsley has been spreading Lieberman's contact information around. I think it's unlikely that he can be swayed, especially by people who don't live in Connecticut; it might be more effective to get in touch with your own Senators. Perhaps they can find a way to use the reconciliation process after all, or perhaps the public option or Medicare expansion can be restored when the House and Senate versions are combined. Failing that, the focus should be on Harkin's plan to abolish the filibuster, so that this one defeat doesn't herald total paralysis for the future.


Blogger Sue said...

My God Infidel, I keep telling myself dems have a plan, they are giving LIEbermann control FOR NOW because they will sock it to him LATER. I'm totally floored right now!

15 December, 2009 03:53  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

So now their going to save us some money, heh?

Heh,heh,heh,heh,heh ......

15 December, 2009 05:10  
Anonymous Holte Ender said...

It's amazing that when the republicans are in power they get their own way and when the Democrats are in power nothing changes. I can only assume that the majority of our Congress are republicans at heart.

15 December, 2009 07:28  
Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

Oh, I have no doubt he can't be persuaded. After all, he doesn't get his money from the people. But maybe he'll have to walk the rest of his life looking behind his back and get a big crick in the back of his neck.

Know something you need to tell me?

15 December, 2009 08:12  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sue: Lieberman may well be punished by loss of seniority or whatever, but I'm not sure he cares; at his age he's likely to reture soon. More to the point, that won't save the reform bill.

RC: Well, that's what the Council of Economic Advisers says.

HE: As FDR said, the Democrats will always have a tougher time sticking together than the Republicans -- there are many ways of moving forward but only one way of standing still.

LP: I'm sure Lieberman is being inundated with very rude e-mails right now, but I don't see this as helpful; I'm concerned with results. No, I have no special knowledge. I'm just trying to focus on what actions might actually get somewhere, as opposed to merely bemoaning the situation.

Lieberman is not the main problem here -- the filibuster and the 60-vote requirement is. Bought-and-paid-for politicians will always exist. Without the 60-vote rule, the Democrats would have votes to spare and could tell Lieberman and his paymasters to take a hike.

15 December, 2009 08:25  
Anonymous phuckpolitics said...

If the Democrats had any balls they would let Lieberman follow through with his threat.

15 December, 2009 08:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Not a bad idea -- call his bluff. Of course I'd prefer to see the filibuster rule changed so he's left out in the cold.

The specified necessary endowment on the, er, part of the Democrats is, however, unlikely to descend without their constituents helping to stiffen their resolve. As I've opined elsewhere, the enyarblement of politicians is like the fate of Tinkerbell -- it depends upon the enthusiasm of the audience. Convince them that we won't re-elect them unless they get this done -- and they will get it done.

15 December, 2009 09:40  
Blogger Hill said...

Found you at MadMike's place.

Love your blog.

Yellow-Dog Dem here, but damn! Feel like this last time I actually voted for the enemy, the Rushpublicans.

I want my Dems back! And I want President Obama to pull an LBJ and kick ass and take names. Not necessarily in that order, either.

BYW, nice to meet you, Infidel.


15 December, 2009 12:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am losing my marbles, one by one (not that many are left to begin with), watching this so-called reform. No public option, no Medicare expansion (likely), no cost controls, no competition for the insurance companies, which will now, essentially, have a free reign. Where is the reform part, I wonder?

Oh, yeah, the mandate to enroll in the private insurance -- or else. Reform, indeed.

15 December, 2009 12:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Hill: Thanks for commenting! I know the feeling -- I recall the months last year of hoping Hillary would make it, and wonder now what might have been.

Elizabeth: Oh, yeah, the mandate to enroll in the private insurance -- or else.

I'm afraid that's not a marble -- it's an onrushing boulder.

I think this reform will achieve some improvements, but it's certainly a case of the mountain giving birth to a mouse. I still hope it will prove to be a first step toward further action down the road.

15 December, 2009 14:15  
Blogger Karen said...

Makin' the bloggie rounds to profess Lieberman's a fuckin' bastard!

15 December, 2009 18:19  

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