Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Martha Coakley's Depressing Defeat and the Future of HCR

Oy vey. It's time for a very sad edition of James Call: Expert, where we summarize the news you can't understand, or simply don't want to read.

Reader "Skinny D" asks this question, yesterday, before the election: "Alright jim so the article I want explained is the one on the front page of todays New York Times about the health care bill. I think I'm completely lost as to what's going on with this thing. Didn't they already pass something like two months ago or did they just pass something saying they where going to think about passing something?"

And then good ol' reader "Kirstin" asks me to summarize this related article, post-election: NY Times, January 19, 2010

Scott Brown Beats All Hope For the Future

Well alrighty then. We have a GOP Senator from Massachusetts. Read it, and weep. What does this mean for health care reform?

The first part of this article is procedural background

First, to Damian's question, let me summarize the process thus far. In your ordinary piece of legislation, one chamber (the House or the Senate) either passes a bill which the other one then passes, becoming law after the President signs it, or both chambers pass similar legislation, and then go in to conference to make a compromise bill, which is then voted on by both chambers. Thus was the health care bill: the House and Senate had each passed their own, broadly similar, versions, which were to go to conference, and then to a vote. It looked like a done-ish deal.

However, now that Scott Brown is elected, and due to be sworn in soon, and has said he'll oppose the health care bill - along with every other Republican in the Senate - there isn't time to go to conference. The Senate will not pass the current House bill, for various reasons (many of them quite stupid, but at least this has been known for some time); either the House can pass the Senate bill, or we can have nothing.

Now in theory, the House Democrats should just swallow hard and pass the Senate bill, and then "fix" it via a separate bill passed via reconciliation, which is filibuster-proof in the Senate (requiring only 50 votes, rather than 60; now that Brown is the Senator from Ma., the GOP can filibuster anything that isn't done via reconciliation). Then we'd have the beginnings of health care reform.

But - these are Democrats we're talking about. They have the cojones of jellyfish. So already they're huffin' and puffin' about going back to the drawing board, listening to the "will of the people," throwing in the towel entirely, etc. Even liberal as pie Anthony Weiner from NY is saying this! Enough of them have come out and said they'll vote against the Senate bill that tough-as-nails Nancy Pelosi, good as she is at her job (and she's good), doesn't have the votes. Health care, in its current form, barring a miracle, is dead.

Further, in the Senate, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., has said the congress should wait until Brown is seated to consider healthcare. Some nonsense about listening to the will of the power, or some such. Probably trying to C his A with independents...

Now here's my fucking opinion/analysis.

Dems are toast. They're freaking the hell out about being defeated for re-election this year, but guess what, NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO, they are going to be defeated for re-election this year. This is a 1994-style wave we're looking at. Dems're going to throw in the towel on health care reform, but the angry "independent" voters (see: illiterate morons with the attention span of gnats) have ALREADY turned against them. They can either pass health care reform, and lose, or throw in the towel in an attempt to position themselves as "Republican Lite" ... and lose. As usual, Krugman puts it very well.

Part of the outrage is over government spending. Many Dems are crying about how we should be focused not on health care, but on paying down the deficit. First of all, you cunts, as long as the US dollar remains the reserve currency for the world - and what can challenge it? - our deficits are NOT A PROBLEM. At all. Period. End of subject. The dollar is a fiat currency and therefore deficits are NOT A PROBLEM FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, WHICH PRINTS THE MONEY FOR GOD'S SAKE. Secondly, let's assume for the sake of argument we do want to pay down the deficit - well, what the hell do you think the number one deficit problem is, you shitheads? That's right - ballooning medicare costs, which health care reform would have gone some ways to address.

Another part of the outrage is over jobs. That's reasonable, but out-of-control health care costs prevent hiring. Cut down on costs, and businesses will have more money to hire. Prrrrretty simple to understand, folks.

Now let me speak to the "throw the bums out" mentality. I'm all for that. No big fan of the Obama/Clinton brand of Democrat-cy here. But for God's sake, how piss-poor is your memory. Do you not remember what Republicans have done when they were in power for the past thirty years!?!? What the hell is wrong with you people?

In addition to health care reform, Scott Brown also opposes cap-and-trade, amnesty for illegal immigrants, the usual slieugh of Republican nonsense, so expect a further uphill battle - perhaps no progress at all, now that the filibuster is stronger - on those issues as well.

It's truly amazing that Democrats don't grok that by trying to cleave to a centrist viewpoint, they'll just alienate their liberal base and be wiped out further. Their seats are not going to be any safer if they "vote Republican". Hell, their seats won't be any safer if they even FLIP Republican, as evidenced by Parker Griffith, a Dem from Alabama who flipped to the GOP recently, and is being - guess what - primaried by teabaggers. The tea-party nutjobs are running the show right now, and they view former Democrats or "centrists" of any stripe as nothing short of traitors.

These folks are going to lose their jobs anyways - they should, at least, accomplish something that will make them look good in the history books. But it's a safer bet that aliens will contact the Earth, than that'll ever happen.


zz said...

Here's another question for the expert: is there a less democratic (in the sense of "democracy") concept in the American political system than the filibuster? (Perhaps the Electoral College...but that institution at least has a constitutional basis.)

Don't get me wrong...I agree with your account of Democratic mismanagement. But still: Republican procedural opposition has been a very real problem for all recent Democratic majorities.

James Call: Expert said...

abso-freakin-lutely... it's nauseating. But one has to bear in mind that the filibuster, or threat thereof, has been used for good in the past, notably in defeating Social Security privatization in 2005. I'd argue a more fundamental problem is that our Senate is composed of 2 Senators from each state, regardless of the population density of each state. Can you imagine if the nation simply elected a slate of 100 Senators, what things might look like?

Chris Herbeck said...

Expert: I wanna hear your Superbowl predictions baby!

James Call: Expert said...

I've been thinking Colts-Saints, man, but I'm praying for a Jets victory. I mean, they took down the Chargers, which nobody said could be done... so I'll say Colts-Saints, with an outside chance of Jets-Saints (which I would fucking drop acid for).