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Fire up some attack ads

In order to get health care reform passed in the Senate, three steps must occur:

#1 - the Senate must agree to debate the bill. This requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

#2 - the Senate must vote to end the debate on the bill. This also requires 60 votes if it is being filibustered. This is the phase in which amendments to the bill may be voted on, each of which individually requires these same three steps.

#3 - the actual vote on the bill. This requires 51 votes.

The Senate accomplished step #1 on Saturday night. It was done with a straight party line vote, 60-39, with both independents (Sanders and Lieberman) voting with the Dems, and one Republican not present. Not a single Republican voted to simply allow debate on the bill.

How is this not being spun as "Republicans don't want to solve our health care problems"? The vote to start the debate should have been 100-0. Republicans would have a legitimate leg to stand on if they voted for the bill and then offered a bunch of amendments that tried to modify the bill to include more of the solutions they are in favor of, and/or to remove the elements they don't like. But by not even voting to allow the debate to begin, it's clear they have no interest in passing anything.

Republicans do have some vaguely serious proposals for reforming health care. I don't think they'd be very effective (and could be quite harmful), and almost all experts, including the CBO, seem to agree. Their biggest solutions are tort reform and allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines. Despite their limited value, both are included in the bill in some form. So there's a groundwork for Republicans to expand upon during the amendment phase. But they clearly have no interest in doing so. It's pure obstructionism. Why aren't the Dems loudly proclaiming it so?

It's also worth noting that some conservative Democrats had to be bribed into voting to allow debate. Mary Landrieu demanded additional Medicaid funding in her state for Katrina victims. I'm fine with that in its own right. It's a bit odd for Landrieu to claim to be against a public option while at the same time wanting more money for public health programs. But whatever. And Ben Nelson demanded that an insurance monopoly-busting measure be removed. Which is completely outrageous. It's very clear that Nelson isn't 'conservative' so much as beholden to his campaign donors. It's not conservative to allow monopolies. But the larger question is, why do we have to bribe Democrats to vote to just allow the debate to begin?

By fnord12 | November 22, 2009, 4:32 PM | Liberal Outrage