Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Last Call

Your tiny sliver of hope this evening:
Backtracking from a declaration he made just after the election of Republican Scott Brown Tuesday night, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has tempered his opposition to the Senate health reform bill.

"I have realized that my statement last night was more pessimistic than is called for," Frank said in a statement e-mailed to Raw Story on Wednesday evening.

"I was reacting – perhaps overreacting – to proposals I had heard from a variety of sources that we do things to facilitate the passage of a health care bill that would have sought in the short-term to neutralize yesterday’s election," he conceded
Yes.  You did.  You know how to proceed forward.  Make it happen.

The Kroog Versus The Unbearable Lightness Of Being The Kroog

Paul Krugman has towel in hand, arm cocked back in a throwing stance.
Health care reform — which is crucial for millions of Americans — hangs in the balance. Progressives are desperately in need of leadership; more specifically, House Democrats need to be told to pass the Senate bill, which isn’t what they wanted but is vastly better than nothing. And what we get from the great progressive hope, the man who was offering hope and change, is this:
I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don’t, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill. Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like.
In short, “Run away, run away”!
Right.  That rabbit's dynamite!
Maybe House Democrats can pull this out, even with a gaping hole in White House leadership. Barney Frank seems to have thought better of his initial defeatism. But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.
Even I've about had enough.  The man that two years ago talked about sacrifice and stamina in changing America and dealing with race and justice in one of best speeches I've ever heard is now talking about the health care bill containing "things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like" as if he didn't have any influence over it whatsoever, like he's some sort of passive observer.

If he is not willing to absolutely swing for the fences on this one right now, like his presidency depends on it (which frankly it does) then it's over, and God help us what replaces him.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Over at skippy's place, Jim Yeager asks:
are the democrats finished with all their f&#k%#g around now?
Jim?  My friend?  The f&#k%#g is just getting started.

Folding Like Laundry

ABC News:
President Obama warned Democrats in Congress today not to "jam" a health care reform bill through now that they've lost their commanding majority in the Senate, and said they must wait for newly elected Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to be sworn into office.
He won't even fight for his own agenda anymore.
"Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table: The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," the president said. "People in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process."
Brown's part of the process will be to vote no.  What part is there to play?  If Obama will not fight for health care, then the carnage in 2010 for the Dems will be absolutely brutal.  And he's already spewing GOP talking points in response in less than 24 hours.

My God.  Josh Marshall shares an e-mail from a Senate staffer:
The worst is that I can't help but feel like the main emotion people in the caucus are feeling is relief at this turn of events. Now they have a ready excuse for not getting anything done. While I always thought we had the better ideas but the weaker messaging, it feels like somewhere along the line Members internalized a belief that we actually have weaker ideas. They're afraid to actually implement them and face the judgement of the voters. That's the scariest dynamic and what makes me think this will all come crashing down around us in November.

I believe President Clinton provided some crucial insight when he said, "people would rather be with someone who is strong and wrong than weak and right." It's not that people are uninterested in who's right or wrong, it's that people will only follow leaders who seem to actually believe in what they are doing. Democrats have missed this essential fact.
And the resulting collapse is at this point near total among Democrats in Congress.  Everyone is saying "We can't pass healthcare reform because..." and fill in the blank:  We need GOP support, the people sent us a message, we have to wait for Brown to be seated, etc...but every single statement from a Dem today features some excuse for why health care reform cannot be passed now.

November will be utter devastation.

What To Choose To Learn From This

Via BooMan comes the exit polls from Research 2000 for yesterday's voting:
QUESTION: Would you favor or oppose the national government offering everyone the choice of a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?
ALL          82%   14%    4%
MEN          79%   18%    3%
WOMEN        85%   10%    5%
DEMOCRATS    89%   7%     4%
REPUBLICANS  68%   24%    8%
INDEPENDENTS 83%   13%    4%

QUESTION: Do you favor or oppose the health care reform proposal recently passed by the U.S. Senate?
ALL          32%   48%    20%
MEN          29%   52%    19%
WOMEN        35%   44%    21%
DEMOCRATS    42%   46%    12%
REPUBLICANS  11%   68%    21%
INDEPENDENTS 33%   47%    20%
QUESTION: If oppose, do you think it goes too far or doesn't go far enough?
ALL          36%        23%     41%
MEN          34%        26%     40%
WOMEN        38%        20%     42%
DEMOCRATS    49%        18%     33%
REPUBLICANS  11%        61%     28%
INDEPENDENTS 38%        20%     42%

As you can see, of the people who voted for Obama in Massachusetts in 2008 and then voted for Scott Brown in 2010, they overwhelmingly want a public option, and overwhelmingly dislike the current Senate HCR bill.  They think the Senate bill doesn't go far enough.

This becomes even more clear when the Research 2000 people asked Obama voters who stayed home yesterday and didn't vote:
  • 86% want a Medicare for all type public option.
  • 43% oppose the Senate bill.
  • 53% oppose the Senate bill because it didn't go far enough.
Your Obama Republicans?  They ditched Brown becuase there was no public option in the health care bill.  Put one back in during reconciliation, and you win.

Class dismissed.

Self-Fufilling Prophecy

From the Village's Mark Preston at CNN (emphasis mine)
In a matter of two weeks, Democrats witnessed a sleeping Republican base come to life to rally around a little-known GOP candidate, who defied the odds to win the race to succeed the liberal lion from Massachusetts.

And after watching two governorships slip from their grasp in November, many Democrats have come to realize that the American public is not particularly happy with their stewardship of the nation.

Democrats have 10 months to try to regain the momentum, but the wind is now at the Republicans' backs, and their first legislative victory will likely be slamming the brakes on President Obama's signature domestic issue: health care reform. It is a mighty blow for a president, who just one year ago seemed unbreakable, unstoppable, unbeatable.
The Village is already dealing with the post-Obamacare era, as well as the post-Obama era.  Not only is he being discussed like he is no longer President, but like he is not even in the same planet as where the Oval Office is located.

41 is more than 59.

Yggy Sums Up The Next Ten Months Of The Democrats In The Senate

Right here.

File:Gnomes plan

Here endeth the lesson.

Steal This Book

Doug J at Balloon Juice:
We’ve been talking about a new tag here “59 seat minority”. The Village Voice has already gotten to it:
“Scott Brown Wins Mass. Race, Giving GOP 41-59 Majority in the Senate”
Oh hell yes.  New tag: 41 Is More Than 59.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Hey look, BooMan has a plan.
It pains me to say it, but any progressives who think we will get more progressive outcomes in this Congress by allowing the Republicans to completely kill health care reform are just plain wrong. On the other side, any moderates who think the Senate health care plan is more popular than the progressive alternatives simply cannot read polling data. The path should be clear. Pass the Senate version and then make it more populist through the reconciliation process, and whip that vote like your presidency and your majorities depend upon it. 

Let's go.
Sound good to me, because he's right, Dems.  If you don't do this, the GOP will be running this country in 2010.

It really is that simple.  Man up.  Get 'er done.  Make it so. Ya dig?

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Bravely ran the Donkeys, bravely ran away away...

And the GOP will have 41 votes now to oppose each one of those bills.

And they will.


Fire Up The Blamethrower

Daily Beast's Mort Zuckerman goes on a rampage against the Worst President Ever In This Or Any Dimension.
He’s misjudged the character of the country in his whole approach. There’s the saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t get it. He was determined somehow or other to adopt a whole new agenda. He didn’t address the main issue.

This health-care plan is going to be a fiscal disaster for the country. Most of the country wanted to deal with costs, not expansion of coverage. This is going to raise costs dramatically.

In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting.

Five states got deals on health care—one of them was Harry Reid’s. It is disgusting, just disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like it. The unions just got them to drop the tax on Cadillac plans in the health-care bill. It was pure union politics. They just went along with it. It’s a bizarre form of political corruption. It’s bribery. I suppose they could say, that’s the system. He was supposed to change it or try to change it.

Even that is not the worst part. He could have said, “I know. I promised these things, but let me try to do them one at a time.” You want to deal with health care? Fine. Issue No. 1 with health care was the cost. You know I think it was 37 percent or 33 who were worried about coverage. Fine, I wrote an editorial to this effect. Focus on cost-containment first. But he’s trying to boil the ocean, trying to do too much. This is not leadership.
Zuckeman goes on with this tirade at length.  The idea that the problem here was the deficit and always was the deficit however was laughable to the point of being insulting.  Bush added nearly six trillion dollars to our national debt.  Nobody cared.  Obama tries to spend a fraction of that, he's excoriated by idiots like Zuckerman here.  $3 trillion to invade Iraq, no problem.  $1.2 trillion over ten years?  Unconscionable tyranny of the darkest evil.

If Obama decides the country's top priority is to the cut the deficit right now, we're screwed beyond belief.  The Republican gets eight years and a mulligan.  The Democrat gets 365 days and the back of America's hand.

And the real issue is the number of Democrats who will agree with Zuckerman and throw Obama under the bus.

Blame The Numbers

Nate Silver's morning after "What the hell happened?" analysis at least has the benefit of Nate's math behind it.
Overall, we have a 31-point swing in the vote to explain: from Barack Obama's roughly 26-point victory in November 2008, to Martha Coakley's roughly 5-point loss today.

At a bare minimum, 10 of those points must be assigned to the national environment. Generic ballot polling suggests that the Democrats' position has worsened by a net of 10 points since November 2008, from winning the House popular vote by 10 points in 2008 to being dead even with Republicans today.

Also at a bare minimum, 11 points of blame should be assigned to Coakley. That represents the difference between the 58 percent of vote that she received at her high-water mark in the polls to the 47 percent she received on Election Day. A fairly large number of voters, it appears, actually turned away from Coakley; it was not just a matter of undecided ones turning toward Brown.

That leaves us with 10 more points of blame to assign; let's just dole those out as evenly as possible, giving 3 more points to Coakley, 3 more points to the national environment, and 4 to Massachusetts-specific special contingencies -- it gets the extra point because it hadn't received any yet.

That would make the final score: national environment 13, Coakley 14, special circumstances 4.

(More after the jump...)

The Morning After

Scott Brown's the winner, but the Democrats are bound and determined to be losers on this.  Both Senator Jim Webb of Virginia...
"In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated."
...and even Rep. Barney Frank of Mass. are both saying it's over for Obamacare.
I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform.
Oh sure.  Why don't you ask Scott Brown?  If even Barney Frank is giving up on this bill, then it really is over...and so are the Dems.  If they fold here, the GOP really will take over the country by 2012.
The Stupid is overwhelming today.

Gut check time, people.

Best reaction is from a comment at FDL:
I cannot tell the difference any more. This goes for the media as well – Katrina Vanden Heuvel as a centrist? Only Olbermann really shines forth as a force for progressive principles.

Obama, indeed, has nine months. Nine months to get us out of Iraq AND Afghanistan, nine months to get real, progressive health care reform passed. Nine months to stand up to the centrists of both parties and shout with a voice like Moses himself, ENOUGH! Enough of the money changers, be they banks, insurance companies, oil companies, whatever.
And if he doesn't, no doubt the Republican president in 2012 will get right on that over the next decade or two.  To all the Massachusetts Dems who voted for Scott Brown specifically to kill Obamacare, good job.  You won!  Plus 2 points on sticking with your principles.

And minus several million points on common sense.  You know that more progressive bill you want?
Democrats now face decisions on whether to give up on the health care fight — an approach few lawmakers appear willing to entertain — or perhaps pull together a scaled-back measure and use special procedural rules that would eliminate the need for 60 votes in the Senate. But it is not clear how many of the key provisions of the legislation could be passed under such a procedure.
Your choices are now no bill or an even worse, scaled-back bill.  So keep throwing back that health care bill that you decry as not perfect.  The plan is working great to get that progressive legislation!


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