Will the Senate Come Through?
February 24, 2010
When Senators like Bernie Sanders or Sherrod Brown say Democrats need to finalize health care reform through the budget reconciliation process because of Republican obstructionism, that doesn't mean much. When Senators Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and Ben Nelson say their more liberal colleagues may be right, that means a lot. Via Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown, here's Bayh: “Obviously, if the minority is just frustrating the process, that argues for taking steps to get the public’s business done. ...
Will the House Come Through?
February 24, 2010
Who says bipartisan good feeling is dead? The big question hanging over health care reform right now is whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can get enough Democrats to vote for the Senate bill and an accompanying set of amendments that would move through the budget reconciliation process. Rather than make Pelosi and her lieutenants go to the trouble of counting all those votes, Republican House Whip Eric Cantor has generously done the work for her. In a memo addressed to "interested parties," Cantor lays out the math.
How Many Lives Does the Public Option Have?
February 18, 2010
I'm a longtime, enthusiastic fan of the public option. And I am really nervous about its latest rise from the grave. As you may recall, the public option died in December, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped it from his reform bill in order to secure the final votes necessary for a filibuster-proof, 60-member majority.
The Dems Need a Shove. Will Obama Give It?
February 04, 2010
In the last week and a half, Obama has rediscovered his voice on health care--telling audiences he is determined to achieve comprehensive reform, not some piecemeal version, and that he is willing to fight for it. And, administration officials say, the sentiments are genuine. Obama has instructed his staff not to abandon the pursuit of a full reform package, even though, it seems, that's what some advisers would prefer--and even though the Democrats no longer have the sixty votes necessary to break Republican filibusters in the Senate. But rhetoric alone won't get the job done.
Will Bernanke Be Another Coakley Casualty?
January 22, 2010
If I had to guess as I write this, I'd say no. But the trendlines for the Fed chairman aren't moving in the right direction. Today's Wall Street Journal had a piece noting that the Fed chairman was headed toward a closer than expected vote in the Senate next week, with Dems Byron Dorgan and Jeff Merkley joining Bernie Sanders, the Senate's chief Bernanke-hater on the left, as opponents of a second term.
The Whipping Boy
December 27, 2009
WASHINGTON--Punditry in the nation's capital has its own rhythms, and one common practice involves almost everyone beating up on the same politician at the same time. Such assaults are rarely about ideology, though I have found that liberals or Democrats are often the object of these sustained attacks, perhaps because journalists are overly sensitive to charges of liberal bias. There's nothing like hitting a Democrat hard to "prove" impartiality. For quite a while, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the target of choice.
BREAKING: Senate Passes Reform
December 24, 2009
The U.S. Senate has voted to pass the most ambitious piece of domestic legislation in a generation--a bill that will extend insurance coverage to tens of million Americans, strengthen insurance for many more, and start refashioning American medicine so that it is more efficient. The vote took place a little after 7 a.m., after brief speeches by the two party leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell.
You Call This a Compromise?
December 06, 2009
Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University. An expert on the politics of U.S.
Should We Laugh? Cry? Both?
November 22, 2009
The ritual is becoming familiar. Health care reform passes a major political hurdle. And progressives don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Last time, the occasion was a vote in the House of Representatives. Health care reform passed by the slimmest of margins, but not before conservative Democrats had extracted a major concession on abortion rights. This time, it was a vote in the Senate--not on whether to pass a bill, but whether to begin debating one.
Another Historic Vote
November 21, 2009
The health care debate moves forward. On the motion to proceed, all the Democrats plus independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders voted aye. All of the Republicans present voted nay. The final count was 60 to 39. (Republican George Voinovich was back in Ohio.) The next few weeks promise a wild ride and not just because of the debate over the public option. There will be lots of debate and lots of amendments. Immigration. Abortion. Malpractice. Republicans will do their best to make Democrats take tough votes.