Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


The votes in the Senate came down 60-40, as expected. Not one, not a single Republican voted for health care reform, not even GOP “turncoat” Snowe. Despite all the concessions — all the revisions — not one Republican cast a vote in favor of the American people early this morning. That is why I will stand beside Barack Obama and his allies on this bill. Not because I like the bill personally. Certain aspects of it already horrify me, and I haven’t even read the thing yet. But I will stand beside it because it is, at this time, the best we can do — and because it is likely better than we will be able to do in a year’s time. The people hollering “Kill the bill!” are as unrealistic as the ones who thought Ron Paul had a shot at the White House. The last time health care reform died in Congress, we didn’t get another shot at it for over a decade. What makes anyone think it will be any different next time around?

And the only reason we’ve gotten so far this time?


…That’s what it takes to get anything done in the Senate, and we only have that when we count traitors like Joe and conservadems like Nelson. That’s why a douchenozzle who supported John McCain for president and a jackass who represents a state with a population of less than two million are able to stall proceedings and manipulate everyone around them. Pitiful and infuriating as it is, we need them. And as horrible as they are, yes, they are still better than Republicans. They threw some wrenches in the works and stripped the bill of some of our favorite provisions, but in the end — when the kidnappers’ and would-be tyrants’ demands were met — they voted for it. The Republicans? Not so much.

The United States took a major step closer to the rest of the industrialized world shortly after 1:00 a.m. on Monday morning, voting 60-40 to move forward on far-reaching health care reform that will provide subsidies to million of Americans to purchase health care — and require all citizens to purchase health insurance or prove that they can not afford to do so. (More on the details of the bill here.)

The vote, which was taken in an unusual fashion, with senators seated and voting from their desks, split along party lines, with all 40 Republicans voting no. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) rose and announced her nay vote with an affect of regret in her voice.

Huffington Post

Just one more Republican in the Senate — that’s all it would take, and nothing would have gotten done. We would have lost even this, which feels in some respects like such a small, bittersweet victory. And additional, identical votes are soon to come.

The roll was called shortly after 1 a.m., with Washington still snowbound after a weekend blizzard, and the Senate voted on party lines to cut off a Republican filibuster of a package of changes to the health care bill by the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.

The vote was 60 to 40 – a tally that is expected to be repeated four times as further procedural hurdles are cleared in the days ahead, and then once more in a dramatic, if predictable, finale tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Both parties hailed the vote as seismic.

New York Times

And so it is. We are closer to having real health care reform than ever before, and Republicans are fighting it tooth and nail. For the insurance industry, for their ignorant constituencies, for the sake of obstinance, they are opposing it with all their might. If even one of our Senators (Lieberman and his ilk included) turns against us or is missing for one of the upcoming votes, we will be set back yet again.

Each side blamed the other for the extraordinary series of votes – at dawn Saturday, after midnight Monday, at dawn again on Tuesday, at 1 p.m. on Wednesday and finally on Christmas Eve, when most Americans will be sequestered for the holiday.

The Democrats charged the Republicans with obstinately throwing every procedural obstacle in their way, including filibusters and the full 30 hours of debate allowed under the rules after each filibuster is broken by a vote of 60 senators.

The Republicans charged the Democrats with recklessly rushing to adopt a dizzyingly complex 2,700-page bill that would affect virtually every American, and would reshape one-sixth of the nation’s economy at a cost of $871 billion over 10 years.

“If the Republicans want to exercise every single right they have under the rules, they can keep us here until Christmas Eve, no doubt about it,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa. “But to what end, I ask? To what end? We’re going to have the vote at 1 a.m. that requires 60 votes, and then why stay here until Christmas Eve to do what they know we’re going to do?”

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said he and his colleagues had a duty to fight until the last minute.

“There is nothing inevitable about this,” Mr. Cornyn said. “The only thing I think inevitable about it is in the light of the unpopularity of what is being jammed down the throats of the American people, there will be a day of accounting. We don’t know when that day of accounting will be. Perhaps the first day of accounting will be Election Day 2010.”

New York Times

It’s all about obstruction. It’s about preventing anything from getting done, but particularly health care reform. They want us to lose, and if we do, it will not just be Obama’s Waterloo. Republicans have no new ideas of their own, and they are looking to slink their way back into power by making Democrats appear ineffective. They plan to prey on those in the middle who remain indecisive, swing voters who will swing right back into their grasp in 2010 and 2012 if they don’t see things getting done.

In the heart of the holiday season, Senate Republicans and Democrats are at one another’s throats as the health care overhaul reaches its climactic votes. A year that began with hopes of new post-partisanship has indeed produced change: Things have gotten worse.

Enmity and acrimony are coursing through a debate with tremendous consequences for both sides as well as for the legislative agenda in the months ahead.

Should Democrats prevail, it will put an exclamation point on an eventful first year of their control of Congress and the White House and leave Republicans on the Napoleonic side of what one predicted could be President Obama’s Waterloo. A Republican victory would invigorate an opposition party that was back on its heels at the beginning of 2009 and would strike a crushing blow to Democrats and their claims to governing.

New York Times

There is no sense in killing the bill and starting over in the Senate. We will not get a single Republican vote for HCR, and we stand a good chance of losing conservadem votes. Things have gotten too nasty, and there is no reason to assume they will improve.

Members of both parties say the dispute over health care has created bad blood, left both Democrats and Republicans suspicious of the opposition’s motives, and shattered some of the institution’s traditional collegiality.

At the
same time, Democrats say the apparently unbridgeable health care divide has convinced them that Republicans are dedicated solely to blocking legislative proposals for political purposes. Several said they now realized that they would have to rely strictly on their own caucus to advance such defining issues as climate change in 2010.

“We have crossed the mark of over 100 filibusters and acts of procedural obstruction in less than one year,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, said on the floor Sunday. “Never since the founding of the Republic, not even in the bitter sentiments preceding Civil War, was such a thing ever seen in this body.”

New York Times

For those of us who consider this a small victory — or even something of a defeat — it’s worth taking the time to consider what has been accomplished. I have a lot of faith in newly elected Senator Al Franken, and he sums the issue up well in his diary on Daily Kos:

Requiring insurance companies to spend 85% of premiums on actual health services — not administrative costs, TV ads, or gargantuan CEO bonuses — is a big victory.  Senator Rockefeller and I worked hard to get that provision included because it holds insurance companies accountable and will put an end to exploding premiums and obscene profits – a huge win for progressives.

[. . .]

This bill will end annual and lifetime limits on the dollar value of your benefits.  Eliminating preexisting condition exclusions for all new medical plans and funding high-risk pools to insure those with preexisting conditions who are currently without insurance means Minnesotans won’t be locked in their jobs or afraid to start their own businesses for fear of losing coverage.  Requiring that 85 cents of every premium dollar go toward coverage will limit insurers’ profits and skyrocketing insurance premiums.

These are all real, strong reforms that this bill enacts with the urgency this crisis demands.  Small businesses will immediately receive tax credits to make covering employees more affordable, and insurers will have to cover recommended preventive services at no cost to the patient.  Again, these changes take effect immediately.

In coming years, health insurance exchanges will be created to give more Americans access to affordable coverage.  For those who already have coverage, but live in fear that they’re just an illness or pink slip away from losing their health insurance, this bill provides the peace of mind that comes with access to secure, stable, affordable coverage.

These reforms are fiscally responsible and crucial to our long-term economic health.  By bringing down costs and focusing on prevention and high-value health care, more Americans will get screenings to prevent diseases before they become costly and disabling.  We’ll also make providers accountable for making people healthier, rewarding them for efficient care.  In the end, this bill will save money and keep our country healthier while cutting the deficit by $132 billion in the first ten years and $650 billion in the second ten.

The plain simple truth is, because of this legislation crafted by Leader Reid and others in the Senate, 31 million more Americans will have affordable health insurance and the growth in health care costs for families will be dramatically diminished.  For those reasons and the many I outlined here, today I am proud to announce my strong support for this historic step toward universal health care in America.

Daily Kos

For as much as I hate the mandate without a public option, for as much as I expect I’ll hate whatever provisions were added regarding abortion, I will support this bill. It is easy to sit behind a computer screen and rant and rave about the bill’s inadequacies, but a lot of Americans need help now. They don’t have the time or the money to wait another 10+ years for our Congresspeople to have another go at this. I appreciate the efforts of many people who oppose the bill in its current form, including Howard Dean and quite a few outraged Lefty activists (for whom I have some respect in certain cases), but practicality must win out. Pragmatists may receive any number of disdainful glances from puritanical ideologues, but when reality strikes, people need to use their common sense (assuming they have any). We may not have gotten what we wanted with this bill, but if Congress manages to ram this thing through — warts and all — I believe we will get what is necessary: A solid foundation upon which to build a better system and upon which to begin better reforms.

If it seems like a hasty, half-assed rush job, that’s because it is. But sadly, that is what is necessary. It’s the only way to go at this point. This is very likely our only chance to get things even halfway right.

Because right now — in this moment — a certainty for just a few months more

We have 60.

* * * * * * * * * *

Update: vc2 is reporting over on dKos that Howard Dean is now urging Senators to support the bill, appearing live on MSNBC a little while ago. I don’t get MSNBC (poor Comcast customer that I am), and no video is posted anywhere that I can find — so it’s all hearsay at this point. Will provide a clip when/if it becomes available. Did anyone else see it? If it’s true, could it be due to White House criticism, or would Dean really care? How genuine are his sentiments?


  1. sricki

    The whole thing’s turning my stomach, and yet I can’t look away.

    Consider this yet another open thread since I just posted right on top of the other one. How’s everyone’s shopping going?

  2. fogiv

    i only slept two hours last night.  i think i might have just clicked ‘request moderation’ instead of ‘recommend’.  sorry, i submit myself for public flogging.

  3. creamer

    repeating :Don’t fuck this up……..

    In the back of my mind my competitive side is wanting retribution, the pragmatist is waiting.

    Lieberman, Nelson, Stupak and maybe a few others. I’ll be looking at primary challengers and if any have a shot I’ll send money their way.

    Look for lots of noise from the House when this goes to conference but I think this will go if Stupak doesnt get stupid. This is where the DNC can have an effect by threatening to withhold campaign funds, wich affects House members more than Senate.

  4. rfahey22

    I believe I read a diary or a post on DKos which discussed all of the limitations that Social Security had when it was first enacted.  It would be a mistake for people to lose sight of the fact that the legislation can be improved over time.  We really need something like 67 or so senators in order to push through something that is more comprehensive than the current bill, since there is currently no room for error with Lincoln, Lieberman, Nelson, etc.

  5. fogiv

    …and believe me, i’ve seriously considered that option, it’s nice to see some pushback.  clinton and krugman got the ball rolling, and it’s catching on a bit. At Dkos, Jane ‘natural born’ Hamsher (and by extension MyDD frontpager Bob Brigham) has been called onto the carpet by TimRusso (click through for a good read w/ some tasty links):

    Like the Kos diarist who called this to my attention, I didn’t know much about Jane Hamsher until she started getting paid to advocate for the public option.  I never even read her blog, Firedoglake.  I had barely come across her in 2008 as yet another whiny blogger complaining that the Obama campaign wasn’t advertising on her website.  Called her out on it during the general.  Called her out on her thinly veiled blackmail threat last summer.  Told her to blow me once.  Good times.

    So it’s no surprise to me that Hamsher is now advocating a sordid alliance with teabaggers to kill the health care bill, and wallowing in the attention by pimping it further, complete with another pitch for another blog of hers.  The pimping never stops with these people.  Never.

    What was surprising is that Bob Brigham would work for her this summer, getting paid by Firedoglake to advocate to state blogs for the public option.  In Ohio, we remember Brigham for his brief tangential role in payola-tinged Jerome Armstrong infected blog bullshit during the 2005 Sherrod Brown primary early days.  Not the most fond memories of Bob Brigham on my end.

    Disclaimer:  I’m not much a fan of Jane Hamsher, who stikes me as someone who gives more a fuck about self-promotion and cashish than progressive causes.

    At Huffpo (where Arianna has the same problem as Hamsher IMO), Linda Monk says:

    So why aren’t we progressives happier? The bottom line, folks, is that whatever bill Congress enacts will save the lives of thousands more working Americans. Since when have progressives been opposed to that?

    A recent study at the Harvard Medical School, published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, found that working-age Americans (17-64) without insurance die at a 40 percent higher rate than those with insurance. The higher mortality rate applies even after adjusting for race, gender, and other demographic factors. That means an insured African American male has a lower death rate than an uninsured white male. These percentages translate into almost 45,000 deaths each year — one every 12 minutes. Now that’s a death tax!

    Dr. David Himmelstein, one of the study’s co-authors, pointed out that more Americans die because of lack of insurance “than drunk driving and homicide combined.” Each and every year.


    Politics, like life, is not an all-or-nothing game, and if progressives can’t learn how to deal for what we want, we are going to continue to lose — or worse, be ignored. Robert Kuttner, the economist I most admire, has that bottom-line sense of reality that distinguishes him from the ivory tower theorists. He told Bill Moyers that, in the end, he would vote for the health care bill because something was better than nothing.

    But Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone disagreed, saying it was better to wait eight or nine years and get a better bill. My jaw dropped — wait for how many more years and how many more dead Americans? Say 300,000 or 400,000? Such callous disregard for the real lives of everyday people is what earned us the moniker of limousine liberals.

  6. HappyinVT

    Under the headline:  Howard Dean still a rebel, but does anyone care?

    Howard Dean got a lot of media attention last week for saying Democrats should kill the Senate health care reform bill because “it’s an insurance company’s dream.”

    The question is, does anyone important to the debate care what he thinks?

    my employer

    The White House, Sen. Rockefeller and others have said it’s not smart to start over.  Either Dean understands their POV, he’s simply changed his mind, or he’s sold out to the insurance cos.

  7. fogiv


    Father of ‘Public Option’ sez:

    Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University. An expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy, he is author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books and articles, both scholarly and popular, including The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream (2006; paperback, January 2008) and Health At Risk: America’s Ailing Health System and How to Heal It (2008).

    Now that the core demand of progressives has been removed from the Senate health care bill–namely, the public health insurance option–should progressives continue to support the effort?

    For me, the question is particularly difficult. I have been the thinker most associated with the public option, which I’ve long argued is essential to ensuring accountability from private insurers and long-term cost control. I was devastated when it was killed at the hands of Senator Joe Lieberman, not least because of what it said about our democracy — that a policy consistently supported by a strong majority of Americans could be brought down by a recalcitrant Senate minority.

    It would therefore be tempting for me to side with Howard Dean and other progressive critics who say that health care reform should now be killed.

    It would be tempting, but it would be wrong.

    opportunities for serious health reform have come only rarely and fleetingly

    Many Americans will be gravely hurt by the delay

    …the most progressive president of my generation … will be handed a crippling loss…

    Democrats “will be branded as unable to govern.…  

  8. Hollede

    The Moose owes you an enormous debt. You consistently put out top quality, well researched, and incredibly cogent diaries on a very regular basis.

    My hat is off to you, and I am in the midst of a deep respectful bow in your honor.

Comments are closed.