Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Can't win 'em all
I knew Democrats (or any party for that matter) would not be able to hang on to a 60-vote supermajority for long. That is why it is imperative to reform Senate rules and end this recent abuse of the filibuster where the Republicans are using it to require a supermajority for nearly every single vote.
But I did not expect that it would be Massachussetts that would take the 60th vote away. It is sad and depressing to see the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's lifelong struggle to pass health care reform suddenly imperiled by his own untimely death. Just another Kennedy family tragedy, I guess.
But, of course, health reform is not really imperiled. It has already passed in the Senate and there is no reason for it to go back there again if the House will accept the bill as is. That now seems like their only option since the incoming Sen. Brown will be a committed 'No' vote even though his state already has universal health coverage far more liberal than the bill under consideration in Congress.
The House should pass the Senate Bill as is and send it to Obama for his signature in advance of the State of the Union address next week. Then they can push the things they wanted to change and improve in the bill through on a reconciliation vote which cannot be filibustered under Senate rules. And I would hope that the Democrats will start doing a lot of things under reconciliation rules from now on.
This whole idea that Obama's agenda is stymied now because he ONLY has a 59-vote majority in the Senate is absolutely ridiculous. Ronald Reagan had a Republican Senate during the first six years of his presidency, but never more than 54. And he had a Democratic House to contend with at the same time. Yet he was able to get most of what he wanted during those years because Democrats did not abuse the filibuster rule then like Republicans are doing today.
Imagine if Democrats had treated Reagan back then the way Republicans today are treating Obama. He would not have been able to put any of his policies in place. Most of his nominees would have been easily rejected. But it would not have been right then just as it is not right now.
But back to Massachussetts for a minute. A lot of Democrats are blaming Coakley for her defeat. One site pointed out that she only had 19 public events between the primary and the election while Brown had 66 during the same period. The conclusion - she took the election for granted while he worked his butt off. There is something to be said about that. But there was also a lot of other factors at work as well. Any other year and those 19 events would have been more than adequate.
You kind of have to feel sorry for Coakley too. A few weeks ago it was assumed she would be the next U.S. Senator and now her political career is in shambles. The Bill Buckner of politics, they are calling her. Ouch! But that is really neither here nor there.
Democrats still have large majorities in the House and Senate. Obama will be president for the next three years at a minimum and probably seven. Because I believe the economy will continue to improve and by the time the next election rolls around it will be "Morning Time in America" again. A lot of people have been pointing out recently how closely Obama is tracking Reagan in the popularity polls. Reagan slowly lost favor as the economy soured during his first term, but it turned around just in time for him to win a humongous landslide re-election victory. And that is what I see in Obama's future as well. And that will be good for the long-term health of our nation.