Whelp, it looks like me might just possibly see the Senate actually vote on a health care reform bill by Christmas Day. Harry Reid's filed for cloture - well, I should say clotures, because there's lots. The Senate, my darlings, is nothing more than a glorified political obstacle course.
So that means he's got the votes, right? Well, mebbe. If King Lieberman doesn't pitch another fit, and they'd better hope he doesn't, because Queen Snowe still thinks things are moving too fast for her poor little self to handle, and has therefore refused to answer the call of history. That's it. The sum total of her excuse. "It's all happening so fast!" The poor dear - apparently, debating health care reform since the days of Truman, and debating it in its current incarnation for nearly a full year, is just too much for her.
At least Lord Nelson's finally decided to vote for cloture - as long as none of those dirty peasants in the House muss up his shiny little abortion compromise.
Meanwhile, Stupak's working with Cons in an attempt to murder health care reform in its cradle. Cons just want it dead. Stupak cares more for blastocysts than living (or, for that matter, dying) people. It makes for a rather strange and disgusting marriage, especially since the Rabid Religious Right's been invited into the marital bed. I'm with Susie: "I am so tired of living in a country where a group of religious extremists get to hold our rights hostage..."
Cons are awfully damned proud of themselves for digging in their heels. Why, Tom Coburn thinks they're just doing what Americans want - being the Party of No. They must only be listening to "real" Americans, because that vast majority of folks who're pissed off because they wanted single payer or the public option or at the very damned least the Medicare buy-in can't possibly be real.
It turns out they're such piss-poor chess players that they're responsible for getting us something far more progressive than we might have ended up with. Awesome, eh?
So, what will we get with the Senate bill? Steve Benen sez it's no mansion, but at least it's a halfway decent starter home. Digby weighs in with a somewhat different, thoughtful opinion. The CBO gives it a middling-passing score. Howard Dean hopes that the conference committee can fix what the Senate fucked up. It ain't great, but it's something, and it can be built on - if we stay on top of it.
And on that subject, what both Steve Benen and Matt Yglesias said is important, so I shall quote it here:
Got it? If not, read it a few more times. We are not going to win progress if we give up in disgust, folks.Matt Yglesias had a good item on this, noting that "the crucial question going forward is whether it will be possible to further improve this legislation."
I think it's very possible, but only if the people who are disappointed by the shortcomings of this bill take appropriate action. First and foremost, that means working as hard as possible to produce as good an outcome as possible in the 2010 midterm elections. Recall that before 2006, SCHIP expansion couldn't pass the Senate. And before 2008, SCHIP expansion could pass the Senate but couldn't get signed into law by the President. Elections have consequences. Starting in January 2011 we might have new progressive senators representing Ohio, New Hampshire, and Missouri or we might have new conservative senators representing Nevada, Delaware, and Connecticut. This is a very big deal. Has Ned Lamont been able to beat Joe Lieberman back in 2006, this might have had a happier ending this year. Elections have consequences. [...]
[Y]ou accept compromises and then keep on working to build more political power. You do it by contacting members. You do it by urging friends and colleagues to contact members. You do it by donating to and volunteering for good candidates. You do it by turning out and voting for the better candidate in the race even when that candidate is disappointing. You do it by urging viable candidates to mount risky primary challenges against incumbents who don't reflect the real possibilities of their constituency. You do it by staying engaged, and working hard.
I think this is an excellent bill, all things considered, but whether you agree with that or not the most important thing is what does the progressive community do going forward to enact even better bills in the future.
The country can either go forward or backward. Those who wanted key provisions in this health care bill that were ultimately scuttled -- a public option, Medicare expansion, etc. -- can still achieve those goals, but not by throwing their arms up in despair or by deciding to register their frustration by staying home.
And now, on a lighter note, clowns. More specifically, the spectacular clownishness of Rep. Tom Price. Enjoy.