Left for dead after the upset victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, health care reform came roaring back tonight. After a week of arm twisting and persuasion, Speaker Nancy Pelosi locked up the votes to pass the original Senate bill.  The bill now goes to the President for his signature after which the fixes to the Senate Bill will go to the Senate for passage thru the reconciliation process.  See link.  In an interesting twist the Republicans no votes to the fixes in the Senate bill will essentially be yes votes towards keeping Ben Nelson’s infamous “cornhusker kickback” in place.  A competent political party would use it to highlight the Republican transformation into the Party of No, but this is the Democrats we are talking about.

One heartening thing in the last week is the emergence of the Democratic spine.  In the aftermath of the Brown victory many Democrats were ready to fold.  To me it made no sense.  The yes votes on the previous bill were already on record in the Senate and the House and the Democrats were going to get pilloried for it.  The Democrats are not likely to get as big a majority in the near future.  Failure to pass health care reform after coming so close guaranteed a dispirited base that would not turn out in November.  Now Barack Obama and the Democrats can go into the elections by pointing to the legislative accomplishment of our generation that even with its many flaws makes the United States the last industrialized country in the world to provide universal health care access.

The Republicans will run on a platform on repeal.  Don’t hold your breath on them ever actually passing a bill repealing a ban on insurance companies canceling policies for sick people,  denying health care coverage for pre-existing conditions or subsidies for the poor to obtain health insurance.  In their honester and off the record moments the Republicans will admit that as well.  As in Massachusetts this bill will grow in popularity.  Maybe if the Republicans break from their thrall of right wing talk radio they will work with the Democrats to get meaningful cost control provisions and tort reform into the bill.

The saddest part of this debate was the Republican encouragement (place of honor goes to Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann) of the heated rhetoric from the right that this bill epitomized creeping fascism.  They went all in on the policy articulated by Jim DeMint of South Carolina that stopping health care reform would break the Obama presidency.  All of this on a bill very similar to Romney care in Massachusetts and similar to the bill proposed by Bob Dole in 1994 made any compromise impossible.  There were legitimate and principled reasons to oppose the bill, but they were drowned out in the cacophony right wing talk radio and Fox News (with Republican encouragement) helped create. Read the rest of this entry »

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