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January 20, 2010

Ping pong: The House needs to pass the Senate health care reform bill now

Martha Coakley's defeat needn't doom health care reform. The Democrats will now lose their filibuster-proof majority, but remember, the Senate already passed its bill. The easiest way to save health care reform is for the House to pass the identical bill, a strategy known as "ping pong." In that case, there would be no need to send the conference report back to the Senate for approval. The bill could go straight to the president's desk. Signed, sealed, delivered.

The Democrats would also have the option of tweaking some aspects of the bill through budget reconciliation.

Alternatively, the Democrats could fast-track the bill and vote before Scott Brown is sworn in. House and Senate leaders have already cobbled together some kind of compromise bill. If they sent what they've got to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring, there could be a vote in 10 days. Harry Reid said last night that Brown won't be seated until the votes are certified, which could take 15 days. Unfortunately, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va) has already come out and said that he opposes a Senate vote before Brown is sworn in. The fast-track strategy is contingent upon a 60-vote majority. If Webb, or anyone else in the democratic caucus balks, the plan fails.

Maybe Webb is bluffing. If push came to shove, would he really kill health reform to make some obscure point of pseudo-civics? Webb's a fiscally conservative Democrat and he expects the combined House-Senate health care bill will be at least somewhat more progressive than the Senate version. No doubt he's aware that if he nixes (or threatens to nix) the fast-track option, the House Democrats will be forced to line up behind the Senate bill. Somehow, I doubt Harry Reid has the fortitude or the inclination to test Webb's resolve.

So, that's the choice facing the Democrats: Ping pong or ignominious defeat. I know my preference.


Why is Webb helping the GOP? Some hardball please. I don't care about pleasing Republicans. Just pass the damn bill


There are so many rotten things about the Senate bill:
- the excise tax
- "Free Rider" provision
- keeps anti-trust exemption

I'd prefer for Congress to pass a merged bill without waiting for CBO scoring. Hopefully, Jim Webb isn't going to filibuster.

"Somehow, I doubt Harry Reid has the fortitude or the inclination to test Webb's resolve. "

And here I am in almost 100% agreement, and then we have to get the gratuitous stupid Harry Reid insult thrown in.

So let's play a game. Harry Reid schedules a fast track vote on the compromise bill, and Webb backs down and supports the bill. There's still Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Evan Bayh to worry about. And Bayh has already been all over the teevee sagely extolling everyone that this is proof Democrats just need to up and drop HCR altogether. Now I suppose Reid could call his bluff too, but if we were betting on it, would you stake this generation's attempt at healthcare reform on the notion that Evan Bayh is bluffing?

Damn right pass it now. The tax stuff can be fixed at just about any time for years. And reconciliation is funnily enough the ideal vehicle with which to do so. If House Dems balk at this, they are of absolutely no use, and I'll be glad to watch them get wiped out in November.

Sure, Reid faces the same problem with anyone in the Democratic caucus potentially defecting. If he can't keep his caucus in line for the most important vote of a generation, that's egg on his face. That's his job. Reid opened by announcing 15 days 'til swear-in. If he caves to Webb's pressure, maybe he's just playing it safe. But where's the party discipline here? That reflects on Reid.

"If he caves to Webb's pressure, maybe he's just playing it safe. But where's the party discipline here? That reflects on Reid."

No, it reflects on the reality of the Senate. Consider the logistics of stepping out on your leadership. In the House, it's really hard. It only takes a majority to proceed on anything, so at the moment you have to assemble a group of 40 members, and then YOU have to hold them together. If leadership can crack just a couple of your defectors, they've got the votes. The dynamic is totally reversed in the Senate. If there are 60 Democrats, any one can kill anything by stepping out, so long as the opposition is doggedly opposing.

As far as discipline goes, that's on marginal members, not leadership. The idea that Republicans have discipline because thir leadership is ruthlessly effective while Harry Reid is a feckless wimp is ridiculous; Senate Republicans have discipline because their marginal members either don't understand how valuable their marginal votes are to their leadership or are horrifically comical cowards. Marginal Democrats like Nelson, on the other hand, are keenly aware that their votes are more important to leadership than anything Harry Reid can offer them. You're going to take away Ben Nelson's seniority? He'll vote to filibuster every major aspect of your agenda. Who comes out on the worse end of that?

The bills were terribly flawed and were arrived at by means of corrupt practices incl vote selling

Start over.

If any games are played as respects not seating Brown quickly, there will be holy hell to pay at the polls in November. This will correctly be seen as antidemocratic and you would see great fury from independents and many fair minded Democrats. There's been enough unethical stuff played on this. Do not go there.

Indeed, we should never wait for formal certification of election winners before we seat Senators. We'll call it the Franken Precedent.

Frankin's election was razor thin.

Brown's was not. And any delay will be based on reasons of gamesmanship and fraud.

I am not blaming Coakley for the election loss (although everyone agrees that her campaign was complacent and lackluster). I do blame the voters of MA who sent this message: "I've got mine ... so up yours."

MA offers a health insurance plan superior to the one proposed in Congress. If it were not for this simple fact, the outcome might have been different.

There is no message here ... just greed, self-interest, and a callous disregard for the 47 million who don't have health coverage, and the 44,000 who die each for the lack thereof.

Thus, I reserve my ire, not for the candidate who lost, but for the voters of MA who demonstrated NO CITIZENSHIP whatsoever.

Complete bullshit

Obama's health care scam involved vote buying and open payoffs to certain states and to union workers who were made immune from taxes that would ultimately have burned the huge majority of workers who choose not be join a union

It was a mismanaged corrupt scam of a negotiation and will be a case study on how not to do public policy.

Weiner and Stupak both say the House doesn't have the votes for the Senate plan.


Bullshit yourself! Notwithstanding your atrociously bad manners, shall we also talk about no-bid contracts in Iraq; about a paramilitary firm that allowed a contract worker to be gang-raped and then deprived her of a legal right to prosecute; about the same paramilitary firm that massacred civilians; about a mismanaged war in Iraq that allowed al Qaeda to rebuild in Afghanistan; shall we talk about the "Bridge to Nowhere;" about torture and extreme rendition; about illegal wiretapping and monitoring of American citizens; about Banana Republican economic policies that turned this country into ... a Banana Republic; about the same Banana Republican antipathy towards regulation that caused the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; etc., etc.

You want to throw sand? Don't get me started!

Weiner and Stupak are the last two people in the world I'd look to for a dispassionate vote count. Stupak would rather have the bill die than pass Nelson's abortion neutral Senate compromise. Weiner wants to pressure the Senate and the president to go fast-track because he thinks progressives would get a better deal that way.

It didn't work out for Weiner. Meanwhile, according to TPM, Obama announced that the senate would not attempt to vote on a health care bill before Brown is seated.

So, it's ping pong or bust.

Brien Jackson -

Al Franken wasn't seated until he was certified.

Then again, Barney Frank is also saying the House votes aren't there. I'm more inclined to believe it from him.


Can you throw a few more non sequitors in there

I believe that you left out the massacre of the Indians and child labor in the 19th Century

This entire year long negotiation has been a botch and a corrupt botch at that.

Time to start over.

"Then again, Barney Frank is also saying the House votes aren't there. I'm more inclined to believe it from him."

Perhaps not, but House members are a lot easier to whip than Senators. 218 votes in the House strikes me as more realistic than 50 votes in the Senate, especially if House progressives are the toughest hurdle.

Brien, I agree. I'm not ready to give up yet. If the votes aren't there this instant, they might be shortly, when the Democrats realize their majority is on the line.

I can't speak to what Frank is thinking, but with regards to Wiener and the progressive caucus, I think they might just be employing a broad "hold the line" strategy until they get a chance to really think about what they want to do. But the bottom line is pretty simple, if they want the new regulations to get passed, they have to pass the House bill. They can't do that through reconcilliation.

If it does pass, it will be interesting to sow the IRS goes after people who don't make enough money to pay astronomical insurance rates.

Currently they have the power to seize assets, put liens on property, garnish wages and put people in prison.

And in the midst of that, you can get the stress of daily threatening calls and scary letters. Further, I know from experience that IRS agents often tell lies, and set traps for folks that aren't professionals in tax law.

The IRS will of course have to be radically expanded to enforce compliance.

I don't know why some of the folks here believe that unleashing IRS hell on the nation is better than nothing. Perhaps you prefer to ignore the ramifications of enforced payment, backed up by possible prison terms for people don't have the means to pay?

I don't think you folks actually understand what you're fighting for.

Phantom, a piece of legislation in Congress involved vote buying and payoffs? You don't say.

Your idol promised a new era of government, an end to the culture of corruption and complete transparency, incl negotiations on C Span

But he was just another crook who did bad things in the dark

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