Democratic Legislative Body Passes Adorable Health Care Bill
Good news: Health Care passed the House. The narrow margin of victory is not a cause for concern, that's just what good whipping looks like. In a functional political system, that'd be it. But no! Now we have the Senate.
The House of Representatives more or less proportionately represents the entire country equally. Its vast size provides a decent counterbalance to the extremism or incredible dumbness of a large number of its members. The Senate, meanwhile, provides a really easy and convenient way for industries to purchase political loyalty: you only need to buy a couple people off to completely stall anything at all. Hell, buy Joe Lieberman and you might kill health care altogether!
So. Drudge links to some very wishful thinking by the New York Post calling reform DOA in the Senate. Josh Marshall thinks its passage is more or less a foregone conclusion. Tim Noah thinks the Senate will maybe pass a terribly watered down version of reform.
Honestly the situation is exactly the same in the Senate as it was before the House vote. There are 50 liberals, 40 Republicans, and 10 assholes who are steering the entire process. Those 10 assholes represent a fraction of the populace. They want to make health care reform do less for fewer people because that is their working definition of "centrism." And they talk like this:
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) conceded that movement across the Dome "builds momentum, which is helpful."
But Conrad, a deficit hawk who represents a conservative-leaning state, said Saturday night's vote would not pressure Democratic Senators into embracing specific policies within the House bill or speeding up a floor debate that could take several weeks and stretch into early next year.
"This is the Senate. ... There's no way I know of to move faster. Honestly ... I've never thought this thing would be done before December of this year, and I still wouldn't be shocked if it's not done in December," Conrad said Thursday afternoon. "I think people are very much directed by the constituencies that they represent. I represent North Dakota; I'm not affected by what some colleague in the House from California thinks, frankly."
Hah. Ha! 38 million people live in California. 640,000 people live in North Dakota. Do you know what the population of Nancy Pelosi's Congressional district is? It is 640,000.
Obviously it is not Kent Conrad's job to care, at all, what Nancy Pelosi's constituency thinks, except inasmuch as what they think might be what is best for the people of North Dakota as well. But, theoretically, in a representative democracy, Kent Conrad's constituency shouldn't have immensely more power than Nancy Pelosi's constituency, right?
But the Senate stands where it did before: Harry Reid's bill is being scored by the CBO, and when it is released, there will be a lot of really terrible columns and news stories about how long it is. When we are feeling optimistic, this is how we think it'll go down: the Dems need 60 votes to let it go to debate and 60 votes to end debate (in the event of a GOP filibuster—which we don't think is inevitable but it also seems idiotic to predict that they'd be adults about anything at this point) and then, maybe, hopefully, 50 Senators and Vice President Smilin' Joe Biden will vote for it and the assholes can save face by voting against it without making it actually fail. And then the Senate will have actually done something halfway decent and fairly monumental.
(Meanwhile the House passed a climate bill last June. Did you know this? Don't look for it to become law this year, though!)