From Booman Tribune:

It’s Still About the Filibuster
by BooMan
Wed Jul 1st, 2009 at 01:48:39 PM EST

One of the things I think politicians are least inclined to do is to create problems for themselves on bills that will never become law. So, for example, so long as ‘centrist’ Democrats knew that the Employee Free Choice Act would never become law, they were all willing to vote for it. But, once it became clear that a united Democratic caucus and a Democratic president could pass the EFCA into law, several Democrats flipped and decided to oppose it. They didn’t want to alienate labor unions and Democratic activists by voting against the bill when they knew it would fail, but they were more concerned about alienating Big Business when they knew it might pass.

The same thing is going on now with the debate over a public option in the health care bill. I don’t recall a single Democrat who was running for president who didn’t run on at least a public option. And I don’t remember when senators like Max Baucus, Jon Tester, Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, and Tim Johnson were endorsing candidate Obama that any of them complained about his health care proposals. Well, Obama won and the Democrats have sixty votes in the Senate, and they can pass single-payer health care if they want to. If they thought that the health care bill would fail, they’d probably support the public option. But they know that they have to pass a health care bill. So…now a bunch of them oppose it.

While the public’s support for a public option varies by state and region, it is overwhelmingly popular on a national level. Obama wants a public option and because he campaigned on providing one and won the election by a wide margin, he has a mandate for one. Yet, nearly a dozen Democrats have expressed some degree of reservations or even outright opposition to a public option. This is true in spite of the fact that none of them said a peep about opposing one during the primaries or the general election.

Prior to reaching the magic threshold of sixty senators, the Democrats had the excuse that they needed at least one Republican vote to achieve cloture and bring a health care bill to a vote. But, now, their only excuses are either that due to the illness of one or two senators they are not at full strength or that one or more of their own members won’t support the public option.

Assuming the Democrats can count on Sens. Byrd and Kennedy to show up for a cloture vote, the only way the Senate can fail to pass Obama’s signature program is if they harpoon it themselves. And that appears to be exactly what they are intent on doing. And they are going to do it on an issue that has the support of approxinately three-quarters of the electorate.

There are a couple of obvious steps the Obama administration can take, but they are similar enough that only one of them makes sense. The administration can ask Democratic senators who oppose the public option to vote for cloture to break the filibuster and then vote their conscience on final passage. After all, it is unseemly for Democrats to filibuster their own majority leader’s agenda. Or, the administration can let the Ben Nelsons of the world kill the bill, and then attempt to pass it in October using the Reconciliation Process which only requires fifty votes.

However, there is no point in doing the latter if they can accomplish the former. In both cases, final passage requires fifty votes. In both cases, the bill passes over the objections of a few ‘centrist’ Democrats. But, in Reconciliation, only the elements of the bill that have an impact on the budget deficit are germane, and all kinds of mischief can be created by Republicans who are willing to raise points of order to strip the bill of budget-neutral but regulatorily critical elements.

Moreover, bills that pass through the budget reconciliation process have sunset provisions that make them vulnerable in future Congresses that might be unwilling to reauthorize them (see Bush tax cuts).

It is much preferable to pass the whole bill in the regular order. That means, the administration must attempt to get all the Democrats who oppose the public option to agree to support an up-or-down vote. And that is where activist pressure can be brought to bear to push health care with a public option over the finish line.


Every last one of them mofos.


Clear as day. No wiggle room. No room for weaseling.

Force them to vote up or down on THE PUBLIC OPTION.

Make them be MEN (or women).

But, this bullshyt that they’re doing now?





Bernie Sanders Demands Democrats Commit To Stopping Health Care Filibuster
First Posted: 07- 1-09 09:44 AM | Updated: 07- 1-09 11:06 AM

One of the Senate’s most vocal progressives is demanding that the Democratic Party commit to voting against filibustering health care legislation now that, with the impending arrival of Al Franken, the party has 60 caucusing members.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), called on the White House and Democratic leadership in Congress to ensure that party members agree unanimously to support cloture on legislation that would revamp the nation’s health care system. Democratic senators on the fence, he added, could still oppose the bill. But at the very least they should be required to let the legislation come to an up-or-down vote.

“I think that with Al Franken coming on board, you have effectively 60 Democrats in the caucus, 58 and two Independents,” Sanders said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “I think the strategy should be to say, it doesn’t take 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. I think the strategy should be that every Democrat, no matter whether or not they ultimately end up voting for the final bill, is to say we are going to vote together to stop a Republican filibuster. And if somebody who votes for that ends up saying, ‘I’m not gonna vote for this bill, it’s too radical, blah, blah, blah, that’s fine.'”

“I think the idea of going to conservative Republicans, who are essentially representing the insurance companies and the drug companies, and watering down this bill substantially, rather than demanding we get 60 votes to stop the filibuster, I think that is a very wrong political strategy,” Sanders added.

Coming hours after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Franken the winner in a nearly eight-month recount process, Sanders’ remarks reflect what will likely be a more aggressive political ethos from within the Democratic Party. Having a sixtieth caucusing member in the Senate gives the party the margin it needs to stave off a Republican filibuster, which seems all but certain should health care reform include a public option for insurance coverage. But the reality remains that the Democratic caucus is far from united. Corralling all of its members behind one piece of health care legislation — especially the public option — remains elusive.

Sanders’ advice, which he hinted at in a separate interview with the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, is to simply take the parliamentary hurdles out of the process. The Party wouldn’t have to worry about whip counts and could, in the end, get a more favorable final product, he believes.

“I think that politically that is something everybody can handle. You say, ‘Look, I think there should be a vote. I’m gonna vote against it for A, B and C reasons. But I think the process has to move forward and it’s unacceptable that Republicans keep trying to stop everything,” said the Vermont Independent, who added that “The White House could play a very important part in this process”

“I think it would be great if we could have 100 senators voting for this, but what is important is the product that you get, not bipartisanship,” Sanders went on. “So we should ask Republicans to support it. If they choose not to they do so at their own political risk. The focus should be on a strong bill trying to get Republican support rather than a weak bipartisan bill.”

To this point, Senator Ben Nelson has hinted that he may oppose a public option for insurance coverage but has told constituents in Nebraska that he could very well support cloture despite opposing the bill itself. Other Democrats on the fence include Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan, of North Carolina, and Diane Feinstein of California.

As for the actual legislation itself, Sanders said he expected a strong public option to come out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions final product, But he worried that it would be “watered down” in order to bring Republican lawmakers on board. The concern, as Sanders expressed it, was that key Democrats in the process — namely Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. — were structuring their efforts to recruit Republican support rather than the best policy. He ridiculed the so-called “Coalition of the Willing,” a group of four Republicans and three Democrats, organized by Baucus to help craft his reform proposal.

“The people who are sitting around who may determine health reform in the Senate are a majority of Republicans,” Sanders said, incredulously.

In its place, Sanders proposed a Coalition of Unwilling — as in a group of lawmakers unwilling to sacrifice a progressive bill for the sake of bipartisanship.

“Something is very wrong,” he said. “What Sen. Baucus said is that the strategy should be to reach out to Republicans. All of them, without exception oppose a public plan. So what you’ll end up having is a very weak piece of legislation probably regressively funded. My strategy is different.”

Rest of article at link above.

I’m with Senator Sanders. There is NO REASON why ANY Democrat shouldn’t vote for cloture. NO REASON AT ALL.

Like I said…


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