Is Kennedy The Obstacle To The Public Option?

That's Kevin Drum's theory:

[I]t takes 60 votes to break a filibuster, and unless someone gets Teddy Kennedy back on the floor of the Senate, Democrats only have 59 votes right now. As for the Democratic senators who might join a filibuster if the bill contains a public option, who knows? But Ben Nelson is certainly a candidate. So are Evan Bayh, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu.

So Teddy Kennedy's inability to appear in the Senate, according to Kevin, is the obstacle to health care reform. Ironic. But that is easily remedied really - Kennedy should resign (enabling a special election to replace him.) Health care is more important than he is. As for Kevin's alternative Dem filibusterers, I'll believe it when I see it. Easy to say they MAY filibuster, a lot harder to do when it is an unamendable House-Senate conference report. Personally, I do not think there is one Dem Senator with the guts to do it. But why don't we find out?

Speaking for me only

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    This is silly (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:18:00 AM EST
    I find it impossible to envision a scenario under which the only reason health care fails to pass is that Ted Kennedy is physically unable to be there.  I would stake my life that there is no way it plays out that way.

    I certainly agree that if there is no way Kennedy is coming back, he ought to let someone else take his place, but I very much doubt this is what health care reform hinges on.

    No replacement (none / 0) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:23:09 AM EST
    Please!  It's been pointed out over and over and over again that in Mass., the gov. cannot appoint a replacement.  There has to be a special election, and the seat remains vacant until that occurs.

    The legislature is going to get lots of pressure (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:24:16 AM EST
    to change the law. It would probably take Teddy's death, though.

    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:26:57 AM EST
    But they're not going to get it changed in time to deal with this problem.

    Is it legally possible, I wonder, to have a law allowing the gov. to make an appointment but barring that appointee from running in the election when it comes up?  Seems to me that would be the only fair solution to this regularly occurring political dilemma.


    I think I missed something obvious (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:30:27 AM EST
    With Kennedy's resignation, the number to close debate goes to 59.

    I think you may need to lose two (none / 0) (#32)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:31:29 AM EST
    for that.

    I heare you on that (none / 0) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:41:24 AM EST
    Trying to remember why that is so.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#130)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:41:21 PM EST
    I'm pretty sure you're right it would have to fall to 98 members for 59 to constitute the necessary number.

    Still would need 60: (none / 0) (#53)
    by steviez314 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:43:37 AM EST
    99 x 60% = 59.4.  I know some Republican senators have only 4/10ths of a brain, but it still rounds up to 60.

    98 x 60% = 58.8, so you need 59 out of 98.


    59.4 (none / 0) (#131)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:42:40 PM EST
    Doesn't round up unless you round anything even say 59.1 up, rounding up works at the .5 level generally.

    No (none / 0) (#25)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:30:15 AM EST
    States cannot add to the Constitutional qualifications for Federal office.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:26:55 AM EST
    So IF Kennedy really is incapable of getting to the Senate, even for the one moment, then he needs to resign now so that a special election can be held.

    Don't know what his (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:34:17 AM EST
    mental capabilities are right now to make those decisions.  I find it hard to believe, though, that if he's mentally competent, he's not aware of all that's going on and has plans to deal with it one way or the other.

    I'm not familiar with the specifics of the Mass. statute on this, whether there have to be primaries, etc., but I can't imagine an election could be held in time to make a difference here.

    But if Kennedy resigning and thereby reducing the size of the Senate temporarily by 1 would make a difference in the math for stopping a filibuster, I would expect him to do that if it's clear he's going to be unable to be brought in to actually cast a vote.

    The long silence from his camp on this makes me suspect either he's no longer mentally competent or that he's very much alive and battling and thinks he does have a chance to get in there somehow and vote when the time comes.


    Hold up (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:40:54 AM EST
    Are you saying he is incapable of resigning? Really? Um, that is a problem.

    Could be (none / 0) (#61)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:51:58 AM EST
    As a care giver for two terminal family members, I could see that as a definite possibility.

    Surely Kennedy would have a POA ... (none / 0) (#73)
    by magster on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:04:17 PM EST
    ... with instructions on this eventuality?

    No idea (none / 0) (#63)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:55:41 AM EST
    Just wondering.

    We haven't, as far as I know, heard a peep for quite some time now about him, and up until a few months ago, we were still hearing he was consulting by phone with Dodd, et al.

    I read quite a bit of the gruesome inside stuff about Lee Atwater's last months with brain cancer, and after a point, he was clearly not mentally competent, though still conscious.

    I don't think there's any way for his family to resign his seat for him, even if he'd left instructions for them to somehow do so.  Perhaps some kind of legal document could have been drawn up providing for some kind of official declaration of competence that would allow it, but I'm no lawyer.

    Not to go all 11-dimensional chess on ya, but it's also not outside the realm of possibility that he is mentally capable, if physically very debilitated, and is laying low on the whole question in order to keep the HCR opponents guessing.


    Does the 25th amend. (none / 0) (#132)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:45:17 PM EST
    Requirements for the Presidency have a corresponding coda in regards to other branches?

    Of those two possibilities, (none / 0) (#57)
    by brodie on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:48:39 AM EST
    I'd suspect the latter.  If it were the former, and he's been that way for a few weeks, I'd like to think his staff and family would decide after a grim prognosis from the doctors that the right thing to do is submit his resignation.  

    Though I'm not sure if TK's type of brain cancer is one which normally involves a long period of deteriorating mental ability resulting in mental incompetence, or whether it's just a matter of slow physical decline where the mind is still working.

    As for coming out of hospital to show up to vote if needed to stop a filibuster, back in 1964 during the Civil Rights vote Sen Clair Engel (D-CA) also had brain cancer.  He was wheeled into the senate chamber when very ill and because he was partly paralyzed, he could only point to his eye -- an Aye vote for cloture.   He died 6 weeks later.


    Why is it a mystery? (none / 0) (#85)
    by NYShooter on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:08:15 PM EST
    Can't someone just ask the Senator's spokeperson(s)?

    On something this important it's ludicrous to have this guessing game.


    Do you really imagine (none / 0) (#120)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:58:16 PM EST
    no reporter has asked?  That's just silly.  The family is obviously just not talking, for whatever reason.  Dodd may know how things stand, but it may not be all that clear even to him since it's impossible for anybody in Teddy's condition to predict confidently what he'll be able to do or not do a week from now, never mind a couple of months.

    My quick read of the MA law is that the (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by steviez314 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:06:59 PM EST
    special election window is 145-160 days after a vacancy.  With that minimum, 2009 would be out.

    I obviously have no idea if any of this fits into Teddy's thinking, and I wish him well, so perhaps the gamble is that he will somehow make it to DC if needed to vote if they can get this done by Oct/Nov.


    as stevie said yesterday (none / 0) (#11)
    by lilburro on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:25:00 AM EST
    if there is no Republican colleague that, knowing it would be what he wanted, would vote to break a filibuster in Teddy's place, you've really got to throw up your hands at these so-called statesmen.  Or throw up.

    I report (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:25:18 AM EST
    Drum's theory, you decide if it holds water.

    To me (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:33:11 AM EST
    your point about the unlikelihood of a Dem filibuster is unassailable.  On a signature issue like this, there is no way any Democrat wants to go down in history as the person responsible for filibustering health care reform.  That is why they want to kill it in committee or otherwise strangle it in the crib.

    Kennedy's vote is the least of my concerns at this point.  Given that he hasn't resigned, I have to assume that he intends to physically be there regardless of his condition, even if he has to hire Michael Jackson's doctor to get permission to be moved.


    Unless he is in the hospital (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:40:16 AM EST
    Which no one has said, then obviously 10 minutes on the Senate fllor to vote won't kill him.

    It's the travel time (none / 0) (#70)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:02:11 PM EST
    and hassle, obviously, that can be debilitating.  Speaking from experience as to what it took to get a debilitated grandma (and wheelchair and then waalker and oxygen tanks and etcetera) to a graduation for the few seconds to see a grandson get across the stage.  And then to get her to a wedding a few weeks ago, which ended with collapse and calling paramedics and an ambulance trip and a hospital stay again.  (Thank heavens for Medicare.)

    If Kennedy couldn't get to his own sister's funeral . . . but then again, it could be that he decided to not risk that the effort to do so would wear him out for this next effort.  


    That's what I'd guess (none / 0) (#77)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:05:55 PM EST
    If he's mentally competent (and maybe even if not) he's holding on with everything he's got to be able to vote on this, quite literally even if the effort to get there hastens his death.  He wasn't needed at his sister's funeral, he's needed for this vote.  I'm quite confident that's how he sees it.  It may very well be the main thing that's keeping him alive and fighting.

    Someone told me (none / 0) (#79)
    by magster on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:06:27 PM EST
    (without a link) that Kennedy went sailing on the day of the public funeral for his sister.  I don't believe it, personally, but maybe it's true.

    Who knows (none / 0) (#86)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:08:26 PM EST
    maybe a guy who's dying doesn't much want to go to a funeral....even his own sister's.  I believe he visited her, wherein he probably said goodbye.

    I hope he went sailing instead.


    "Went sailing" (none / 0) (#121)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:00:44 PM EST
    He's been wheeled out onto his boat a couple of times for a ride, but I'd hardly call that "going sailing."  If one of those times was on the day of his sister's funeral, that's not a good sign.  It says to me either he's not compos mentis or they didn't tell him Eunice had died.

    IMO (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:24:24 AM EST
    this is just more of the same. We heard that things couldnt be done because the MN senate race wasnt decided. Now that that's done, I guess this is the latest excuse.

    What's the math? (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by NealB on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:26:12 AM EST
    If Kennedy did resign, there'd be 99 Senators. 60% of 99 = 59.4 required to end a filibuster. Since .4 isn't possible, I assume they'd only need 59 votes. Is that correct?

    No (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:28:28 AM EST
    It remains 60 always.

    Wait (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:29:01 AM EST
    I see your point. 3/5 of 99. Never mind.

    Have to review the Burris stuff (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:29:35 AM EST
    But I am almost certain you are right.

    3/5 of those sitting and sworn (none / 0) (#27)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:30:37 AM EST
    59 it is (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:31:45 AM EST
    Teddy can resign then.

    Nope (none / 0) (#34)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:33:05 AM EST
    Same situation as pre Franken.

    No (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:34:19 AM EST
    Pre-Franken, Specter was still a Republican.

    The stimulus needed 60 votes, not 59 (none / 0) (#38)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:35:29 AM EST
    Did it? (none / 0) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:37:14 AM EST
    Neal's math seems unassailable. What am I missing?

    (3/5)99=59.4 (none / 0) (#42)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:38:18 AM EST
    You need 60.

    So it is a round up thing? (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:39:13 AM EST
    Is that from the Roberts' Rules? I knew this once, but now I remeber nothing.

    Evidence from the Stimulus vote (none / 0) (#48)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:41:06 AM EST
    It needed 60.

    Kennedy or his replacement will likely be necessary. Or, find a bill that Snowe will go for in the first instance.


    Roberts' Rules (none / 0) (#83)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:07:19 PM EST
    could allow 59, as a quorum can be based on number of members attending -- unless a body's bylaws state otherwise, as Senate rules do.  So Senate rules override Roberts' Rules.

    (Btw, the apostrophe is after the s, as the rules were written by Major and Mrs. Roberts -- when in my town, stationed at our local lighthouse, to while away a long winter.  The trivia I know!:-)


    It didn't come up with the stimulus (none / 0) (#45)
    by NealB on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:40:15 AM EST
    ...in the Senate because Spectre, Snowe, and Collins all voted for it, they got to 60 votes. Was Sherrod Brown's vote really needed? They held the vote open, and Brown eventually arrived and voted, but I don't think the question was called of whether 60 was needed or not.

    If it wasn't needed (none / 0) (#51)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:42:08 AM EST
    WTF would they have bothered holding the vote open?

    To avoid the question (none / 0) (#54)
    by NealB on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:45:02 AM EST
    I think that's why they needed 60 (none / 0) (#58)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:48:54 AM EST
    Clearly our interpretation is incorrect Neal.

    Now, if Byrd died, too, or had to resign... (none / 0) (#39)
    by NealB on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:35:52 AM EST
    ...that would be a problem. Is Byrd mobile these days?

    He made it to the Sotomayor vote (none / 0) (#41)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:37:36 AM EST
    I think he can be wheeled out of they need him. And Gov. Manchin has appointment power if Byrd dies.

    Nate says (none / 0) (#44)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:39:46 AM EST
    that 59.4 has to be rounded up to 60.  No idea if he is right.

    Ask the Parliamentarian (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:46:34 AM EST
    Seriously, is there a firm Parliamentarian decision on the point?

    At least 3/5 would dictate (none / 0) (#56)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:48:09 AM EST
    rounding up.

    Need to replace him to avoid all this.


    Rule 22 doesn't say (none / 0) (#60)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:51:45 AM EST
    2. Notwithstanding the provisions of rule II or rule IV or any other rule of the Senate, at any time a motion signed by sixteen Senators, to bring to a close the debate upon any measure, motion, other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, is presented to the Senate, the Presiding Officer, or clerk at the direction of the Presiding Officer, shall at once state the motion to the Senate, and one hour after the Senate meets on the following calendar day but one, he shall lay the motion before the Senate and direct that the clerk call the roll, and upon the ascertainment that a quorum is present, the Presiding Officer shall, without debate, submit to the Senate by a yea-and-nay vote the question:

    "Is it the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?" And if that question shall be decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn -- except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting -- then said measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, shall be the unfinished business to the exclusion of all other business until disposed of.

    Thereafter no Senator shall be entitled to speak in all more than one hour on the measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, or the unfinished business, the amendments thereto, and motions affecting the same, and it shall be the duty of the Presiding Officer to keep the time of each Senator who speaks. Except by unanimous consent, no amendment shall be proposed after the vote to bring the debate to a close, unless it had been submitted in writing to the Journal Clerk by 1 o'clock p.m. on the day following the filing of the cloture motion if an amendment in the first degree, and unless it had been so submitted at least one hour prior to the beginning of the cloture vote if an amendment in the second degree. No dilatory motion, or dilatory amendment, or amendment not germane shall be in order. Points of order, including questions of relevancy, and appeals from the decision of the Presiding Officer, shall be decided without debate.

    3/5 a minimum number (none / 0) (#64)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:56:14 AM EST
    Armando - don't worry, I'm back . . . (none / 0) (#136)
    by Think Before You Type on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 04:31:04 PM EST
    ... only to help you out with this question.  I'm a nice guy and I hate to see you struggle.

    It doesn't have to do with rounding up or rounding down; the rules say nothing about rounding.

    The issue is that the rules say you need at least 60% of the total people to invoke cloture.  If the total number of people is 99, to get 60% of that number you would need, technically speaking, 59.4 votes or more.

    But there is no way in the real world to get a fractional number of votes.  So the practical result is that you need 60 or more votes.  The result of this logic is that any fraction will be rounded up; even 59.1 will become 60.  But this is not because of a rounding convention; it's because you literally need 60% or more, and the only practical way to get the fractional vote in the real world is by getting the full extra vote.


    There ya go; I was trying (5.00 / 1) (#138)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 05:52:32 PM EST
    to figure out how to write this out but got busy. . . .

    Of course, another way around this is to name one of our Dems in the Senate who is using less than half of his or her brain cells on this effort.  But how would we stop at naming only one?  We could end up losing the majority.


    Rule 22 (none / 0) (#68)
    by NealB on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:00:31 PM EST
    ...And if that question shall be decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn....

    Not seeing "at least" in the wording of the rule.


    Only makes sense (none / 0) (#88)
    by jbindc on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:09:51 PM EST
    59.4 is more than 59 votes, ergo - 60.

    But .4 is less than half a person (none / 0) (#116)
    by NealB on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:49:06 PM EST
    If it's not "at least 3/5" of the number of whole persons in the Senate, then since the remainder of 99 * 3/5 is 59.4 and .4 (or anything less than one whole) person isn't possible, common sense would say you only need the votes of 59 whole Senators. Of course, Democratic Senators would never call the question because that would be impolite, and heck, it's only change, let's give it to the poor Republicans. Even if the only alternative were to require flying in a dying Ted Kennedy to cast the vote.

    It's actually very easy to figure out (none / 0) (#127)
    by steviez314 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:17:24 PM EST
    59 out of 99 is 59.60%, which is less than 3/5ths.

    So you still need 60 out of 99, or 59 out of 98.


    No (none / 0) (#137)
    by jbindc on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 05:45:17 PM EST
    You need at least 59.4 votes - you cannot have fewer than 59.4 votes.  Since you can't have .4 of a vote, therefore, you need 50 votes.

    Well (none / 0) (#50)
    by eric on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:41:36 AM EST
    he could resign and be replaced in a day.

    WRONG (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:42:42 AM EST
    MA has special elections for SEnate vacancies since 2004.

    Wow (none / 0) (#65)
    by eric on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:57:30 AM EST
    I didn't know that.  That is a really profoundly stupid law.  We have a requirement for a special election as well, but we at least allow for the appointment of a replacement in the mean time.  Yikes.

    Legislature didn't want Romney (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:58:56 AM EST
    to have any say. In retrospect, bad idea.

    can you imagine (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by CST on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:02:52 PM EST
    a Romney appointee to the senate for MA though?

    Talk about a disaster.

    What they should've done is have Ted Kennedy resign before they went on recess, so there would've been time for them to hold a special election before the vote.  I still say he will show up to vote if it comes down to him.  No way that he misses it if it means no healthcare bill.  Not unless he's dead.


    You can be "alive" and functionally gone (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:04:01 PM EST
    Who knows what situation he's in right now?

    They should change (none / 0) (#74)
    by eric on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:04:53 PM EST
    the law.  They could do that quickly.  Just allow for the appointment of a temporary replacement until the special election.

    That's what I support (none / 0) (#84)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:07:47 PM EST
    And they need to do it IMMEDIATELY.

    Wow, double irony (none / 0) (#87)
    by magster on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:08:30 PM EST
    this was a great stream in this thread (none / 0) (#112)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:37:12 PM EST
    thanks to all.  very informative and fun to read.

    Not gonna happen that way (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:12:28 PM EST
    There will be a whole series of failure points before we can blame poor Teddy for htis one.

    Personally I don't think the public option is going to end up in the bill that comes out of conference, so the point is moot.

    I'll add...it won't be in the Senate bill that (none / 0) (#96)
    by ruffian on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:16:12 PM EST
    goes to the floor pre-conference either.

    Why not? Enough Senate Dems don't want it, and yet they won't want to be caught filibustering it, so it will never come out of committee.


    Too bad we can't get excited about (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:20:26 PM EST
    the prospects of having the kind of reform legislation we thought would finally be possible with Democratic control of both houses of Congress and the WH, instead of talking about Kennedy like he's a speed bump and throwing around a term - public option - that still has no definition, and has not been explained nearly well enough by most of the politicians who say they do - or don't - support it.

    Kennedy didn't make it to his own sister's funeral last week; now maybe they'd already said their goodbyes and he didn't feel it was necessary to be there, but I think it's asking a lot of someone who's dying to schlep into the Senate to vote for something that, were he in otherwise good health, he would probably be solidly opposed to as it is not nearly strong enough to help the voiceless for whom the Kennedy family has advocated for decades.

    Dread, disappointment and anger are what attend my thoughts on how this whole issue has been handled; the lack of leadership, the mixed messaging, the back-room deals, the unwillingness to fight for any one element of the proposals (the backroom deals may have something to do with that, which makes me wonder what other deals are cooking), the gaslighting of "the left of the left" - and still, there is pressure for us to get behind Obama to help him "win."  

    I guess I need to add "disgust" to the list, don't I?

    Projection (5.00 / 2) (#114)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:40:48 PM EST
    You know nothing of what Kennedy thinks about the bill. Hell, I am pretty confident Kennedy would be playing the Ezra Klein game if he could.

    So, I'm not allowed to have an (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by Anne on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:04:45 PM EST
    opinion?  An opinion that is at least as valid as yours is about what kind of game Kennedy would be playing if he could?

    The Kennedy family has been speaking up for those who don't have money and power for a long, long time; the current conglomeration of proposals do not take up that cause in any appreciable way, but skew heavily in favor of an industry that has money and power to spare.

    It frankly makes me a little ill to think about the drama of wheeling Kennedy into the Senate so that he can vote to give Obama a win on legislation that, so far, does not look like it would give the American people the victory they've waited far too long for.

    Maybe this is a game for young Ezra, but for too many people, it is so much more.

    Heh...nothing but projection in my last sentence.


    Teddy Kennedy (5.00 / 2) (#124)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:09:49 PM EST
    contemplating the last vote of his life on the crusade of his life is not the same thing as Ted Kennedy contemplating a vote with another 10 years or so to keep trying.

    I wouldn't Ezra Klein him, but I'm confident you're right that he will vote for whatever the Dems. ultimately settle on.

    Also, Teddy made the mistake of opposing Nixon's health care reform ideas because they weren't "good enough," and it went down to defeat and nothing has changed in all those years.  He wouldn't make that mistake again, and especially not at the end of his life.


    You also forgot (none / 0) (#105)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:24:36 PM EST
    that maybe a guy who is dying any day doesn't want to attend his sister's funeral...it might be a little too painful to go to funerals at all -- on a very personal level.

    He may very well be capable of making it in for a senate vote...although, you're right, a bad bill might not be worth his effort.


    Irish Catholics do not miss funerals (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:55:19 PM EST
    and I say that as an Irisher raised Catholic.  Believe me, to skip it sans cause is a mortal sin.

    Of course, it's hard to go.  It's supposed to be.


    Depends on (none / 0) (#129)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:21:50 PM EST
    how "devout" you are.

    Who knows what denial can do.


    Oh, yes. But the Kennedys (5.00 / 1) (#134)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 02:24:26 PM EST
    always have made it a point to appear to be very devout.  (And I believe that some of them truly are.)

    But a commenter above (5.00 / 2) (#125)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:12:16 PM EST
    raises the possibility that the family did not tell the Senator that his sister had died.  A very real possibility.

    If all the gossip and hearsay (none / 0) (#135)
    by Spamlet on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 03:29:36 PM EST
    and mind-reading here about Ted Kennedy is even a dim reflection of the prurient, invasive "concern" the press would have taken in him if he had attended his sister's funeral, no wonder he stayed home.

    Ironic (1.00 / 3) (#5)
    by bocajeff on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:18:01 AM EST
    that the impediment to health care reform would be Kennedy's ego...what a shame - yet totally predictable.

    If needed, they will wheel Teddy in to (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:25:54 AM EST
    vote for Health Care on his deathbed.

    a dramatic finish. (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by coigue on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:27:56 AM EST
    And shame on any other Democrat (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by NealB on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:30:54 AM EST
    that failed to join Kennedy against the filibuster.

    I don't think it's ego (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:30:38 AM EST
    I think it's denial.  If he resigns, that means he's really dying.

    They need to wheel him in and have him vote.


    a bit early to go there (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Makarov on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:31:23 AM EST
    considering the Senate is in recess and Obama and Reid have made it clear they're going to wait for Finance to report out something before moving ahead.
    Wait until September, and we'll see what happens.

    Overall, I'm encouraged by the delay. Morning Joe had single-payer proponent Rep. Anthony Weiner on this week, and his argument left Scarborough "speechless", if not convinced.

    Maybe at some point, the mainstream media will even closely examine the current "public options" and discover they are so limited they are doomed to fail  to control costs - something the CBO already recognizes.

    There's still time to sink a bill that would do nothing more than mandate people buy private insurance and send more tax dollars to insurance companies to send more donations to legislators to keep them in business.


    The ego of a man dying of brain cancer (none / 0) (#9)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:24:24 AM EST
    is an awesome thing.  Oh, I agree. SHAME on Ted Kennedy.

    The Senate does not need to pass (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:13:14 AM EST
    a public option in the first place, though it would be preferable.

    In the conference report they do (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:14:43 AM EST
    The conference report (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:16:30 AM EST
    basically can't be filibustered.

    My suggestion would be to pass Wyden-Bennett, or whatever if they have to, and substitute the House bill in conference. It's similar to how the Republicans passed Medicare part D.


    It can't be amended (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:25:57 AM EST
    It CAN be filibustered.

    You can filibuster the report itself (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:29:12 AM EST
    but not the motion to proceed. The distinction appears to be meaningful. As I pointed out yesterday:

    in the Senate, motions to proceed to consideration of conference reports are not debatable, and therefore not subject to filibuster, though  the report itself can be. But because conference reports are also not amendable, any filibuster would have to be a straight-up talkathon, as opposed to the less obvious filibuster by endless amendment (which you saw in miniature this week as the Senate worked its way through the stimulus package). That's one reason you rarely see conference reports filibustered

    If that's technically right, the Dems have lots of leeway.


    Ha! (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:18:33 PM EST
    Thus, only 50 needed?!

    See ya' to Conrad and Ben Nelson and eight other conservadems if needed.  I heard Bayh has stated his support for a public option.

    And, which conservadems would really vote against Teddy on Health Care?  If Teddy makes it to the Senate in person, would they really vote against health care?  Would they really make Teddy show up in order to counter their opposition to health care?



    Yes, they would (none / 0) (#118)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:53:43 PM EST
    I don't get this idea that Teddy's mere presence will shame Blue Dogs or anybody else into abruptly changing course and voting against either their beliefs or their assessment of their own political viability.

    Look, Teddy is very, very much respected in the Senate, actually loved by many, but it is not a sentimental place in terms of votes.

    If Teddy manages to get to the Senate for a crucial vote before he dies, it will be a huge moment emotionally, but it has zippo effect on anything other than having one more in the yea/nay column.


    Perhaps so, but going (none / 0) (#122)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:02:59 PM EST
    by the pols-will-be-pols theory, the Senate is filled with those who can be shamed....It is all a matter of putting the right pressure on them.

    Will they fear the ostracism from mainstream Democrats more than the loss of "moderate" votes, some of which they will never get anyway?

    Shame 'em big time.


    Answer; No (5.00 / 1) (#133)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:50:04 PM EST
    They will not in the least fear ostracism from mainstream Dems. because they didn't vote the same way as Teddy.  I'm sorry, that's just absurd.  These people certainly can be pressured, but "shamed"? Surely you jest.  If there's one thing that unites all politicians of any stripe it's that they know no shame.

    So, pass anything with print on it (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:21:44 PM EST
    out of the Senate?

    Have the House craft the real thing.  And cram it down the Senate with a motion to proceed out of conference.  Beautiful.


    Ah (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:31:00 AM EST
    Well I stand corrected.

    Somehow, though, (none / 0) (#108)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:27:42 PM EST
    I fear the Republicans, with Democratic acquiescence (morons), have tricked out the normal process for motions to proceed.

    Is there a Dem playing 12 dimensional chess?  Or is it as it appears:  headlong, craven, panicked retreat?


    But look at this from DeMint (none / 0) (#115)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:48:24 PM EST
    Senator Waterloo has said:

    Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said today that if Democrats pass health care reform without Republican support, they'll suffer losses in the 2010 election cycle.

    "If we get into this kind of backroom shenanigans, I think the American people are going to throw them out of office -- and they should," DeMint said on CNBC

    So, backroom shenanigans are possible.  andgarden may have it....

    To paraphrase:  I love the smell of cramdown in the morning--it smells like victory.


    There is no public option in the Senate (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Makarov on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:24:02 AM EST
    from a technical perspective. According to PNHP, the HELP Committee's plan is to contract out the "public option" to non-profit insurers like some of the BC/BS around the country. Check the PNHP's blog and you'll see Kip Sullivan's (MD and JD) review of the legislation that reported out of the HELP Committee.

    More to your point, passing "something" through the Senate and then "fixing" it in conference is certainly appears the White House's preferred approach at this time. The only problem is, which Senators get appointed to the conference committee?

    If it's Baucus and Conrad, I fail to see how it would be an improvement on anything the Finance Committee is currently bandying about.

    It's quite possible, that depending on the selection of House and Senate conference members, that the bill would die right there. As a single payer advocate, willing to accept a real "strong" public option (which doesn't exist in legislative form in either house today), I would applaud such a failure. However, my fear is both sides would stack the committee with "moderates" like Baucus and House Blue Dogs.

    At that point, our only hope for defeating a huge handout to insurance companies and re-creating the Mass plan on a national level would be progressive House Dems allying with Republicans to shoot it down. Possible, but more risky.


    Only 50 needed? (none / 0) (#12)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:25:05 AM EST
    Health Care can be passed through budget reconciliation.  And, no filibusters are allowed for such a bill.  So, only 50 votes are needed, unless I am missing something.

    Bill Clinton's tax increase on the wealthy in 1993 passed the House by only two votes.  The vote in the Senate was a 50-50 tie with Al Gore breaking the tie.  I remember the Senate vote--I was drving in my car home from work when Al Gore dramatically announced the tie vote and broke the tie with his vote.

    We don't need any Republicans.  Major legislation has passed that way before.  And we can lose 10 Democrats.

    Health Care should be easy to pass under these circumstances.

    A puiblic option can (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:28:10 AM EST
    I think all of Ezra Klein's fancy regulations could be ruled as not germane to the budget.

    HOWEVER, all the fancy funding that Klein likes could easily be put in a budget reconciliation.


    "Incidental" provisions (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:05:48 PM EST
    can be removed in a "Byrd Bath."

    This New York Times article goes into the detail that you mention:

    But there is a potential way around the Byrd Rule as well. Democrats are envisioning an unusual two-track approach. Under this strategy, some of the most contentious elements of the health plan -- new taxes and fees as well as savings from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs -- would be packaged in one bill that could be passed by a simple majority.

    A second measure would contain the policy changes and program expansions and would be treated like an ordinary bill, subject to filibuster and amendment. But the thinking is that this legislative sidecar would contain enough popular programs to attract the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Voilà -- a health care bill


    How much of a bill can be done via budget reconciliation?

    Democrats and other experts looking into the process acknowledge that it would require advanced legislative acrobatics. But they believe it could and should be done if there is no alternative.

    "If the only way to get it done is in reconciliation and you could get a bill worth doing, then that is fine," said James R. Horney of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning research organization.

    How good is Reid in working the ropes?

    If you really need 60 for a public option, then I think the chances are not that good.


    That's a good plan (none / 0) (#95)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:15:42 PM EST
    How bad is Kennedy's health? (none / 0) (#59)
    by s5 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:49:12 AM EST
    It seems like this would be one of those "and Ted Kennedy showed up for a rare decisive vote" moments.

    Reading the tea leaves: deathbed (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:52:19 AM EST
    Ok (none / 0) (#67)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 11:59:43 AM EST
    Just a quick reminder.  Ted Kennedy is a human being, not just a vote....

    I find it awfully ironic the 'clinical' way that this very humanitarian issue (healthcare) is being discussed.

    Congress isn't at the point of voting.  Wait until that day comes and see how Teddy is doing.

    Hey, if he's mentally incapable of resigning, maybe they can just bring in his decapitated finger so it can push a button.  That might be enough for some ;-).

    Maybe both Teddy and Byrd can resign on the same day so we'll only need 58.8 votes.  We can call it, the Teddy-Byrd healthcare bill.

    Of course, given Teddy's behavior during the primaries, maybe I shouldn't have such a generous feeling about him...

    I'm mostly with you (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by brodie on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:07:13 PM EST
    on this one.  

    And I do detect among some here almost an eagerness to get rid of TK.

    We just don't know about his condition.  And in the meantime the senate Finance comm'ee may not vote until the end of Sept, then more weeks for the entire body to vote and the House, etc.

    I have confidence he and/or his staff and family will do the right thing in the end.  It goes against all I know about the guy to think he'd choose selfish self interest over the public good, and on the most important domestic issue he's been involved with.  


    not an eagerness to get rid of Ted (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by CST on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:14:51 PM EST
    but yes, there is some feeling, at least on my part, that I only have two senators available to my state, and I would like to have both of them functioning and working.  Otherwise, I am being under-represented in an already undemocratic senate.

    We do know one thing about his condition, it has kept him from the senate all year so far.  That is a problem.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Ted Kennedy, I think he would do anything in his power to pass healthcare.  I just want two functioning senators, and right now, he's not.


    I understand the concerns (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by brodie on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:27:39 PM EST
    of wanting full representation.  But I think TK after 47 yrs of solid work for MA has earned the right to have a little more time, within reason, to hopefully resolve his medical situation.

    I think most folks in MA would probably give him several more weeks or perhaps even a couple more months to improve enough to get back to the senate.  But certainly much beyond that, and I think people would have a right to get impatient.

    Fairly soon I'd expect his office to update the public on his true condition and the realistic outlook for when he could return to work.


    At what cost? (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by CST on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:38:48 PM EST
    What is the cost to the country for more time?  What is the gain to him?  He has already accomplished more in his career than 99% of senators.  He has already earned our respect and admiration.  Frankly, I can't imagine that he would want to go back to full time work in the senate at this point.  If I had to guess, I would say the only reason he hasn't resigned to date is that it would take a while to replace him and he wants to be available to cast that vote if necessary.

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#104)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:22:20 PM EST
    functioning senator...now there's an oxymoron. ;-)

    It may be that Senator Kennedy's (none / 0) (#139)
    by KeysDan on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 07:48:02 PM EST
    family feels that when he passes, it should be while in office.  The family, understandably, might see this as a tribute and honor to his long time service to Mass and the country that would be diminished in some way if he resigned due to illness.   It would seem that. at this point, the Senator is likely to be yielding serious decisions to others.  However, the greatest tribute he and his family could receive would be the nation's eternal gratitude for doing what is right in sickness and in health.

    Being caught flatfooted on this issue (none / 0) (#69)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:01:49 PM EST
    just because we like Ted Kennedy seems exceptionally unwise to me.

    And me? (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:10:53 PM EST
    I don't like Teddy Kennedy.  In fact, I wish the whole "Kennedy Dynasty" would retire from politics and go sailing or whatever.

    However, when we speak of the man's death in the same cold clinical way as the insurance death panels might -- in terms of what it means to our bottom line/win, or whatever -- while we're talking about HEALTHCARE for Gawd's sake, it pretty much sickens me.


    My point (none / 0) (#78)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:06:14 PM EST
    is that until we know WHEN there will be a vote, it's probably the least of the worries.

    Exactly. With some time to go (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:10:38 PM EST
    there are, sadly, other scenarios that would reduce the number needed to 59.  And then we could have the sympathy vote that helped LBJ win the Civil Rights Act.

    But rather than be ghoulish about the status of Kennedy's brain, it would be far better to focus on why so many other Dems don't have spines.


    Make them declare (5.00 / 1) (#111)
    by MKS on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:35:59 PM EST
    publicly if they are for or against a public option....Pressurize those who oppose.

    Arlen Specter, bless his maleable, sellable soul, is the perfect pol--exhibit A, in fact, for BTD's pols-will-be-pols theory.  A very bright man, he sure seems like he is a Democratic vote now.  He said recently he would not oppose cloture on Democratic bills.  Somehow I don't think his change of heart is a result of becoming more educated on the actual merits of the Democratic postions, or of any principle that hasn't been impressed on him by Joe Sestak.

    Pressure works....


    If they both resign (none / 0) (#75)
    by CST on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:05:17 PM EST
    we lose 2 votes and only gain one fewer vote needed.  In order for this to work, we need a republican to step down with Kennedy.

    Oooh, (none / 0) (#80)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:06:52 PM EST
    there's an inviting thought.  Who would you like to step down?

    Step down? (none / 0) (#106)
    by CST on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:25:32 PM EST
    We could just kidnap one for the day.  If I had my pick, probably Sessions.

    When is that Senator from FL resigning? (none / 0) (#91)
    by magster on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:11:39 PM EST
    Reid can delay Crist's appointment swearing in until after the filibuster vote?

    In theory, yes (none / 0) (#93)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:13:15 PM EST
    that's a very interesting point. But that would likely cause holy hell.

    Martinez said his resignation was effective (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by steviez314 on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:17:18 PM EST
    upon a succcessor taking office, so he's voting until then.

    I'm not sure you can do that (none / 0) (#99)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:18:29 PM EST
    You can't fill a vacancy until there's a vacancy. There's going to be a point where someone can object.

    Absolutely (5.00 / 1) (#109)
    by jbindc on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:33:32 PM EST
    Especially since he's of the same party as the governor.  They work it out and Martinez resigns effective September 10th at 11:59 and Crist appoints a replacement at 12:00 noon.

    Replacement needs to be sworn in (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:34:09 PM EST
    Then (none / 0) (#126)
    by jbindc on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:16:12 PM EST
    Watcht he circus as Reid refuses to swear in a possibly deciding vote.

    I already made that point (none / 0) (#128)
    by andgarden on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 01:20:14 PM EST
    Doesn't mean it can't be done.

    Sure you can (none / 0) (#103)
    by Cream City on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:22:00 PM EST
    and it's done all the time, with careful timing, and is the wise way to do it -- as after all, the complaint by Massachusetts commenters here is that they want full representation, and all the time.

    Shrug (none / 0) (#117)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:53:21 PM EST
    Justice O'Connor resigned exactly the same way, and some people made exactly the point you're making, but they were still quite content to go forward with a nomination and a confirmation vote notwithstanding the technical lack of a vacancy.  I guess it's one of those technicalities no one complains about.

    Isn't Kay Bailey-Hutchison resigning too? (none / 0) (#97)
    by magster on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 12:17:13 PM EST
    When would that be?

    Maybe we can ram through statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington DC next month too, and go for single payer,  (snark)


    I would like to point out one thing. (none / 0) (#140)
    by phat on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 10:37:53 PM EST
    Ben Nelson doesn't like to allow filibusters. He won't in this case, I suspect.

    Two things have to happen (none / 0) (#141)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 08:04:50 AM EST
    Ted has to resign

    and a Democrat has to win the special election.

    Don't assume the latter will be automatic.   And it would take 5 months from the day of resignation for his replacement to be elected.  Early 2010.  

    The Senator should have resigned months ago, it is too late now to impact HCR.  We have to hope he can, one way or the other, be present to cast his vote.