From where comes all this obsession about the supposed 60 votes needed to pass health care reform that includes the public option? What am I missing here?
We are told by nearly everyone in the Dem Leadership that they prefer the public option be included in this legislation. Everybody likes the public option, right? When is the last time you heard a credible argument against it? (Sorry! The Insurance Industry's argument that "I won't be able to compete with the public option." is nothing more than the vampire campaigning against crucifixes.) Seriously. Take a step back and ask yourself if you've heard anyone in the leadership actually criticize the public option or suggest that it is bad policy?
Me neither. In fact the polls show that a majority of the electorate wants it. Certainly, the Dem base wants it. And now Pelosi has shown that the most aggressive public option is the most fiscally responsible plan as scored by the CBO.
Even ol' MAXimum Dollar "Bought-and Paid 4" Baucus had the temerity throughout the kabuki dance that was his Finance Committee Negotiations/Fundraiser to insist he was for the public option. It's just that poor ol' MAX "The Buck Stops In My Campaign Account" Baucus couldn't include it in his bill because, as he said, "I can count, and we'll never get the 60 votes needed to pass this with a public option."
There's that pesky 60 votes thing again. But at least we can acknowledge there is consensus within the Dem Party to support the public option. That and a visit from the right lobbyist should at least gain you a round of golf, right?
Again, what am I missing? I know that 51 votes are needed in the Senate to pass legislation. I also know that 60 votes are required for a procedural vote of cloture on a filibuster. The Republican Caucus is threatening to filibuster the Health Care Reform Bill. It will therefore take 60 votes to achieve cloture if the GOP decides to filibuster. I understand this, but what's the big deal?
The Dem Caucus has 60 votes. This therefore really becomes a matter of party discipline, nothing more. I mean, is this whole 60 vote issue predicated on a concern that a member of the Dem Caucus would actually vote against his Caucus to sustain a Republican filibuster in the Senate? Is this possible? Has this been done before on anything as monumental as this Health Care Reform Act?
Inasmuch as there are Dem Senators who might feel compelled to vote against HCR, it is Reid's job - along with Senate Whip Durbin - to determine who would be offered a "pass" to vote against the bill when it is presented in the Senate. But are we suggesting that Reid will allow a Dem Senator to cast a procedural vote to sustain a GOP filibuster against the Dem Leadership on one of the most momentous bills of this generation? Are we nuts? If Reid allows himself to be held hostage by ANY member OF HIS OWN PARTY on a PROCEDURAL VOTE against cloture, he has no business being in leadership. Period.
As for Lieberman, that is a case that should be handled by Obama/Emanuel. In this case I think Emanuel could be ruthless to good effect, and Lieberman definitely owes Obama the loyalty inherent in voting for cloture, regardless of what his ultimate vote on the bill might be. Failing that, Lieberman needs to be dealt with harshly - and he needs to know beforehand in no uncertain terms just how harsh the consequences will be if he tries to cut the rug out from under Obama and the Dems. (Move his offices into a local mosque? Maybe get a black jet idling on the runway at Dulles with enough fuel to make Damascus by morning and ask "Weeping Joe" if he really wants to punch that filibuster ticket to ride?)
Imagine a junior Dem Senator from, say, Nebraska telling Lyndon Johnson at any point in his negotiations that "I will be joining with the Republicans to filibuster your Civil Rights Act." Yeah, right.
Now imagine a Senator challenging Obama/Emanuel/Reid in this way. If that is what we are concerned about here, then the whole exercise of trying to govern is pointless. We elected Dems to lead and to pass a health care reform plan. If we are to instead be held hostage by threats issued by DEMOCRATS, then God Help Us All!
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