Where Do We Go From Here? 5 Ways The Dems Can Still Pass Health Care Reform

Okay, so we can safely assume that none of us are all-too-happy that the misogynistic, daughter-sellin‘, waterboardlovin‘, nudie-posin’, homophobic, teabaggin’ birther has stolen Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Fine, he was elected, even if some of the ballots were pre-filled with his name. But how do we get health care reform through the Senate? Nancy Pelosi has already stated that there is “no going back to the drawing board,” but if the filibuster-proof majority is gone, where do we Dems go from here?

So here are what I see as the possibilities, and what I believe are the odds of each succeeding:

1. The GOP took advantage of the Special Election, so we take advantage, too. Certification of the seat can take approx. two weeks, so we get to work and get something through. Anything. Then we fix it later. Besides, I think it’d be kinda fun to pull a Franken on the GOP. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, I always say…

2. Reconciliation, reconciliation, reconciliation! I’ve said it before, and will say it again, this is the best way to actually pass a bill with some value for families and the middle class. There’s no real insurance or pharmaceutical company reform in this bill, so worry about that in a separate bill and run the coverage of uninsured Americans through reconciliation, where 51 will clear it through.

3. Woo Olympia Snowe. Though she’s helped on procedural votes, this just ‘aint gonna happen. But I can dream, can’t I??? (“I have a dream, that one day the Dems will rise up and be an organized party…”) Hey, it’s been a rough night, and we’ve taken a hit, so a little comic relief was in order…

4. Adopt the Senate version as is, and send it straight to The President to sign. Perfect? No. But a work in progress, and a win versus the Rethugs‘ obstructionist agenda? You bet. They’d hate it.

5. Bring each element of the plan through in a bill of its own merit. A lot of Dems just could not vote against some of the specific elements. It’d be political suicide, or at least a real political hit. Who votes against limiting the cancer care you can receive in a calendar year? “Just come back next year and we’ll start your chemo again then. Good luck!” Same thing goes for lowering the age for Medicare and raising the income cap for Medicaid, too. Both easy, and good steps forward.

6. Just put together a great bill, with no insurance or pharma lobby involved, and just let them filibuster! If we really had an amazing bill, one that cut costs and gave families the security they need to be assured they were safe in the face of catastrophic illness, then let’s show it to the American people and let the GOP show what obstructionists they really are! (Excuse me, my idealism is showing…)

This is still possible. Let me repeat, this is still possible. It is still possible to improve health care for the American people. It is still a do-able thing to make health care better for my family, less costly for working Americans, and available for those who are uninsured. Let’s not make this about the circular firing squad again – the homophobe daughter-seller ran a tough campaign in a lot of respects (he’s still a sleazeball, don’t get me wrong). Now we need to pick ourselves up from this fall, dust ourselves off and get back to work! Especially if we want to pull it out in 2010.

And this election is not a referendum, by the way. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate is better than most of the states’ rates, and I believe this election was more a commentary on the state politics that were going on. Ah, but that, fair readers, is another post for another time. Meanwhile, send my ideas on to your Senators, and let’s get the ball rolling once again.

What do you think? Is health care reform still viable, my fellow politicos? Are there more ways than I have listed to make it a reality? Can’t wait to hear from you!


  1. Thanks for writing a bit of a reality check on our collective panic re: SENATOR(!) Brown.But what really has my butt on fire (very uncomfortable) is the Dems refusal to take chances. They are so worried about their re-election viability that they try to take the middle road on every issue. But here's the thing: you can't make everybody happy. Most of us learned this in middle school. Congressional Democrats apparently never went to middle school. In my delusional world, our legislative leaders would say, "What the hell! We're going to pass legislation that they will still be talking about in 100 years. We will consider that to be our legacy, rather than 35 years in a Congressional seat."But that sort of courage (Grayson!) will not happen without massive campaign reform. Perhaps upon election, each new Congressional member, or member of the executive branch, could be issued a stiff spine.

  2. I do still think it's viable if the Democrats balls don't shrivel up if they view the Coakley loss as a dunk in the icy deep end of the Health care Reform pond. You have some great suggestions and bigger balls than the Dem gentlemen occupying the U.S. Congressional building.I posted an article on my blog about the media narrative on the Coakley loss. I'll link to your story.

  3. Hi ya, CEP! Damn, Girl, it's good to hear you rant again! 🙂 Didja catch Ed Rendell on TRMS? …Silly question – of COURSE you did! :)He's talking about some of my ideas, and saying, "Let's fight!" I was thrilled to hear it happen. And on Twitter last night, someone responded to my tweet saying that the Dems will keep farting around…I said that Grayson won't! Now Rendell will, too. I think if we can get a small, steel-balled caucus together (they can borrow the ones Lauren says I have…), drive through the big issues like preexisting conditions, not cutting you off when you get sick, etc., and LET THEM friggin' filibuster! How can they not vote for things like that? I truly believe that this is still do-able. And you and Annette both can vouch for my normally cynical outlook! Your statement of what they should be accomplishing in Congress is dead-on, Girlfriend. The improvements in the lives of everyday Americans should be the legacy they leave. That was said so well – there's the basis of your first post on MP! Always good to hear your perspective, CEP. I miss reading your blog, but am so glad you came by to put your smarts out here!

  4. Lauren, I absolutely love your image of the "icy dip" – and thanks for the honorary cojones! I have been saying from the beginning to let them filibuster, and run it through reconciliation, the same way The Shrub pulled off his tax cuts for the rich, twice, and his Medicare cuts. I hate to say it, but we need to learn from the GOP how to actually legislate and drive through an agenda. And if the ConservaDems don't want to go along for the ride, screw 'em and run an opposing Dem in their district the next possible opportunity! Thanks for the link, Lauren! I appreciate it, Girlfriend.

  5. Preexisting conditions is tough, if politically popular. Insurance companies deny coverage now because of the effect on their bottom line. Mandate coverage for all, though, and that problem goes away because enough healthy people come into the system. A bill requiring coverage of preexisting conditions would force conservatives to explain why they oppose it, which might start turning on some lights about why mandates are necessary. Even better, it would help progressives frame the single payer question in a way that voters might sympathize with. The insurance companies would fight it tooth-and-nail, although that could be a good thing.

  6. I have to admit right here, right now, I changed my mind on the senate version. It has to be the House version with a public option, its the only way to go for cost saving. If the senate bill passed then there is the mandate for all to buy insurance, AND no PO. I believe it only helps the insurance companies by giving them more customers. So if the current senate bill is dead then I'm ok with it. This time Pelosi is right. Anyone with me??

  7. A great, rousing post. A nice follow-up to the how-we-can-still-pass-health-care reform to lift me out of the dumps.Just two small points from a (perhaps overly picky?) Berkeley-mama-lawyer: A per curiam decision is not one that carries no precedential weight; it's just unsigned and therefore carries (at least theoretically) less weight. And the Supreme Court has been according corporations at least some of the rights of people since at least 1854.I appreciate your informed, intelligent and fighting point of view.

  8. Hi Anon,Too bad you're anonymous! A smart, well-spoken voice is always appreciated at MP, and Berkeley mama-lawyers are always welcome here.Thanks for the kudos and your well-informed (and courteous!)corrections. The recent trend is pretty disturbing. How much should we worry about the influence this will have on elections, in your Berkeley mama-lawyer opinion? I'd love to hear more from you on the topic. If you have a blog, please send it along, either as an email or as a comment. Hope to hear more from you. It's always good to have a lawyer acquaintance downtown! 😉 A sincere thanks for your comments.

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I refuse to cave to a minivan. I am still a tomboy - comfortable in Levi's, my Yankees cap and Converse. And I always have a political opinion...hell, I always have an opinion, period. The hubby, my kids and my friends think I should run for office. Maybe one day. But for now, Momma Politico blogs. Peruse, enjoy, and know that our busy lives are as significant as those in The Washington Post. Cheers, Heidi Haines AKA Perry MacNeil Momma Politico

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