Health Care Bill Does Not Depend on Coakely Race

Ezra Klein:

I'm fairly optimistic that health-care reform will pass, even if Martha Coakley loses to Scott Brown in Massachusetts. It certainly can pass, as the House could simply approve the Senate bill unchanged and then make modifications through the reconciliation process.

This news article in the Wall St. Journal makes the same points. Jonathan Chait at TNR has three options for the health care bill if Coakley loses.

Jake Tapper and Jonathan Karl at ABC agree. Either the House passes the Senate version so this election won't matter, or they use reconciliation.

The sky is not falling, despite the suggestion to the contrary by the influential Dems runnng to MA this weekend to stump for Coakely. [More...]

One thing: Tapper and Karl write:
One option no one seems to be seriously discussing is delaying Brown being seated, though Republicans have already dispatched legal teams to Massachusetts in anticipation of any possible recount or other legal challenge that could delay Brown’s certification -- if, of course, he wins.
I think it has been discussed, as I mentioned in comments here and here.

Update: Jon Walker at FDL: Reconciliation is, and has been, an option for months.

And yes, both the Senate and House bills are bad. But, they are 90% the same and neither has a public option, neither has what we wanted, so why it is such a calamity if the Senate version passes instead of the House version?

< Another Consequence of the Coakley Race: Dawn Johnsen | Late Night: Desolation Row >
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    I would beg to differ (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:29:49 PM EST
    I think that there's a strong chance that any Democrat in a conceivably difficult seat in the House will bail on HCR if Coakley loses.

    Worse than that (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:33:12 PM EST
    Coakley losing means the BEST CASE is the lousy Senate bill.

    The Senate bill is the ONLY CASE regardless (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by NealB on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 09:48:38 PM EST
    ...if anything is going to pass.

    If nothing passes now, Congress will have to get back to it in 2013. Costs aren't going down, Americans aren't getting healthier, the number of uninsured continues to grow. Coakley or not, Senate bill or nothing, like Ezra says in tomorrow's Post: "We'll be back at this again, and soon."


    Indeed (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:34:16 PM EST
    Yep. (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:49:22 PM EST
    Expect them to start bailing on Obama on almost every count. I mean in the Dems can't keep a senate seat in Mass what does that say about Obama?

    It says... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by mexboy on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 01:04:38 AM EST
    people are finally waking up, and they don't like, G. W.  Bush II, in the white house.

    Frankly, if the Democrats don't fight for Democratic principles, they deserve to be thrown out.

    Let the Republicans who identify as Republicans enforce the Republican agenda.

    And I hope the Insurance Enriching Bill goes up in flames.


    Absolutely (none / 0) (#42)
    by NealB on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 09:18:10 AM EST
    Let failure to pass health care be a Republican failure enforced by a Republican filibuster of the bill (they can have Lieberman and Nelson, too).

    Yup, watch for Blue Dogs flipping (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by BrassTacks on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:42:26 PM EST
    real quick.  They aren't going to lose their jobs to support Obama's bragging rights.  

    The Senate (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Emma on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:35:05 PM EST
    bill is a foregone conclusion in any event.

    So, a this point what is better for the (5.00 / 5) (#6)
    by tigercourse on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:39:30 PM EST
    Democratic party, "Health Care" reform goes down in flames and Dems have wasted an entire year getting nothing done. Or increasingly unpopular "Health Care" reform gets passed, and Democrats get smacked arond because of it for years to come?

    I think (5.00 / 7) (#7)
    by Emma on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:44:49 PM EST
    what's better is that people stop worrying about what's better for the Dems and start worrying about what's better for us.

    Speak it, sister (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Zorba on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:59:03 PM EST
    Nobody seems to be worried about what's best for all of us.

    As if any of them care about us (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by BrassTacks on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:44:53 PM EST
    If they cared, we wouldn't have this awful bill.  It's hard to think of who DOESN'T get screwed by this bill.  

    A Republican majority (which I'm sure (none / 0) (#12)
    by tigercourse on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:59:05 PM EST
    we'll get either way) isn't going to be good for us. But I agree with your point.

    Not in the short run (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by mexboy on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 01:06:56 AM EST
    but it will teach Democrats they better start taking care of their base or lose power.

    Invading Iraq (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by kidneystones on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:10:06 PM EST
    seemed like a good idea at the time, too.

    HRC is costing Dems this seat. The sooner Dems stop talking about HRC and talk only about jobs, the better they'll do.

    Creating history sounds worse than hollow when so many Americans are on food stamps. Obama can't  're-invent' himself at this late date, I'm pleased to say. It's not too late for Dems, however.

    Any questions about HRC should be brushed aside and used as a springboard to talk about jobs.

    Sincerity would help.


    Invading Iraq seemed like a (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by KeysDan on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 09:05:27 PM EST
    good idea at the time?     No, not then and not now.

    I think you mean HCR not HRC (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by nycstray on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 09:09:30 PM EST
    HRC = Hillary :)

    Reconcilliation (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:52:36 PM EST
    has always been an option and they were unwilling to use it to get a better bill and now are going to use it to pass a crappy bill? That's pretty much what the pundits here are saying.

    I'm with Andgarden. If Coakley loses, expect tons of Dems to start bailing on Obama.

    But isn't DFARoe v. Wade still applicable? (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:54:31 PM EST
    I think (none / 0) (#13)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:02:47 PM EST
    Stupak negated that one.

    Not quite. Just for women who (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:13:01 PM EST
    need the federal government (and/or poss. state gov't) to subsidize health care coverage.

    No, (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by itscookin on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:21:18 PM EST
    even those of us who could reach into our own pocketbooks and pay for our own abortions no longer believe that voting for Democrats protects Roe v. Wade. Stupak and Nelson took care of that.

    I limit my concerns at present (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:29:37 PM EST
    to discussion of Obama's chances for reelection in 3 yrs.  Who is more likely to support Roe v. Wade?  Obama?  Palin?  Romney?  Scott Brown?  Huckabee?  Paul?

    None (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Emma on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:30:51 PM EST
    of the above.

    Sotomayor (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by MKS on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:05:05 AM EST
    will support Roe.....Romney et al would never select a Sotomayor.....

    Are you positive? (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by cawaltz on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 01:48:27 AM EST
    She is on the record as stating that it is well within reason for the government to use tax dollars and support an anti abortion stance. For that reason alone, I'm not 100% certain she wouldn't erode women's reproductive rights more that they already have.

    Yes. (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by MKS on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 11:27:57 AM EST
    One can sift the evidence too finely, losing perspective.

    I was in (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:06:19 PM EST
    dowtown Atlanta today and there were all these anti Obama signs everywhere. Huge flashing billboards saying that if you think healthcare is expensive now wait until it's free. Since when is healthcare going to be free? So the GOP gets away with lying because it is, once agian, unchallenged and I guess it wouldn't be bipartisan to point out that they are a bunch of lying scumbags. I simply find it amazing that they got wiped out in '08 and they continue to think they have majority rule in this country and even the Dems thing that the GOP has majority rule. It's simply pathetic.

    Sounds like sarcasm to me (none / 0) (#22)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:52:54 PM EST
    Along the lines of the Chicago fans who declared once Obama took office they would never again have to worry about their mortgages or gas bills.

    That wasn't sarcasm (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by jbindc on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 02:27:24 PM EST
    Those folks were serious -  they really thought their mortgages and such would be taken care of.

    No (none / 0) (#41)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 06:19:52 AM EST
    it wasn't sarcasm. It was a real life ad. It also was advocating for the Fair Tax on one of the flashes.

    This is inaccurate (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:15:04 PM EST
    "both the Senate and House bills are bad. But, they are 90% the same and neither has a public option"

    First, the House bill is decent and does have a public option.

    Second, the House bill is overwhelmingly superior to the Senate bill.

    Third point, there is more to the Congress than the health bill. Coakley matter on those things, Dawn Johnsen is just one example.

    The Senate bill (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:21:51 PM EST
    has the full bore excise tax for example (without even the modifications negotiated by the unions), it has weak state exchanges, it has worse community ratings (older folks can be charged 3 times as much in the Senate bill, just 2 times in the house bill), it has the ridiculous Medicare commission, and much more bad stuff.

    The House bill really is much much better. And the negotiated bill is also better than the Senate bill, though clearly not as much as the house bill is.

    If reconciliation can eliminate the bad stuff, then you actually have an argument for Coakley losing being a GOOD result for health care reform.

    Personally, I have serious doubts about that.

    Look, you can stand by you opposition to Coakley, but you are kidding yourself if you think this does not have serious negative consequences for health care and other issues.


    I think the biggest negative consequence (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by Anne on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 09:14:38 PM EST
    for health care would be passage of the legislation.

    As for the other issues to which you refer, but do not name, I have not seen much indication from the WH that they are looking to push a seriously "progressive" agenda; Obama has already stated that he wants to spend the next year working on our "shared values," which is code for continuing to erode things I care about, he has stated that he wants to look at Social Security and Medicare - which isn't good news - and the Congress has shown little interest in pushing back against this odious move to the right, and Martha Coakley, all by her ownself, is not going to save us.

    Whatever horror people think the election of Brown portends doesn't scare me any worse than the Democratic president and his lapdog Congress.


    Lucky thing (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 10:10:55 PM EST
    the health care bill is the only item on the agenda we could use a full complement of Democratic votes for, eh?

    (er, that's snark)

    Yeh. About jobs. . . . (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Cream City on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 10:16:16 PM EST
    I wonder what will be next week's distraction.

    You already know (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 10:18:34 PM EST
    Charlie goes to court.

    Well, if (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 10:17:04 PM EST
    this was a health bill worthy of passage.

    I have a hard time caring, (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by BrassTacks on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:49:07 PM EST
    Since I hate this bill.  Democrats are going to lose, big time if it passes and lose big time if it doesn't.  I call that a lose-lose situation for us.  

    Oh wait, Obama wins.  He gets to brag that he produced health care reform.  So I guess it's only the people, and the folks in the House and Senate who will lose their seats because of it.  Obama will be happy, even if no one else is.  


    I agree. (none / 0) (#5)
    by KeysDan on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 07:39:11 PM EST
    As indicated in an earlier comment ('Dawdling Thread'), health insurance legislation will happen by hook or crook.  Too much has been invested by the Democratic Congress and too much is at stake for the president.  We will end up with something---all the worst elements in tact along with odious new additions/subtractions to enable passage.   The worry for me, is that the defeat of Coakley means the election of Brown--a better looking Jesse Helms.

    The sky (none / 0) (#38)
    by standingup on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 02:09:23 AM EST
    may not fall but what of the other important matters that will go before the Senate next year?  I respect anyone's right to object on principle to supporting an individual candidate.  However, whether you accept it or not, the partisan composition of the Senate has become more important than ever in our nation's history.  

    Given your profession, I would think this would concern you:

    The U.S. Senate ended the year having confirmed three nominees to federal circuit courts, half as many as were confirmed during President George W. Bush's first year. Among nominees for district court judgeships, the difference is even more stark -- nine won confirmation during 2009 compared with 22 during 2001. Six circuit nominees and four district nominees have passed through committee but not received a vote in the full Senate.

    At the U.S. Department of Justice, Obama has filled 12 of the top 15 positions while Bush had people in all the department's top positions by this time. Three nominees have stalled. One is Duke Law School professor Christopher Schroeder, who would head up the Office of Legal Policy, a key slot for vetting nominees for the judiciary. A fourth vacancy will open up when Deputy Attorney General David Ogden returns to private practice in February.(Law.com)

    And this:

    The position, which requires Senate confirmation, is among the most powerful of the 93 U.S. attorney's offices nationwide. (Only one-third of those offices have been filled by Obama appointees so far.) The Miami post is also among the most demanding and sprawling -- with 290 prosecutors handling white-collar fraud, public corruption, drug-trafficking and human-smuggling cases from Key West to Fort Pierce. Miami Herald

    Every vote, even one from an imperfect Democrat, has become essential.  The Republicans have and will continue to increase their use of the filibuster.  This is well supported:

    In the 2007-08 session of Congress, Republicans forced 112 cloture votes, nearly doubling the Democrats' record when they were in the minority. (Filibuster Nation, August 5, 2009)

    Filibuster was invoked sparingly in less partisan times - an average of once a year in the 1950s, but 139 times by Republicans in 2008. (Filibuster Illogic: Why Allow 10% to Veto 90%?, December 3, 2009)


    "We have crossed the mark of over 100 filibusters and acts of procedural obstruction in less than one year," Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, said on the floor Sunday. "Never since the founding of the Republic, not even in the bitter sentiments preceding Civil War, was such a thing ever seen in this body." (Senate Debate on Health Care Exacerbates Partisanship December 20, 2009)Wiki-Filibuster

    who is the US Attorney (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 02:29:12 AM EST
    makes very little difference. The AUSA's are career employees and cannot be fired. The US Attorney does Holder's bidding in that he picks the top priorities, and they differ little whether a Dem or Repbulican is elected. They are political plum jobs. They will all target cybersex, child p*rn, gang crimes and guns violence. They will all push for victims' rights.

    Coakley is scarier because as a state attorney general, she will have Joe Biden's ear and he's a total crime warrior. She'll be teaming up with DiFi and Orrin Hatch and pushing through every victim's rights bill while not helping those accused of crime. The Bill of Rights was designed to protect those accused of crime, not crime victims.

    Brown will have no power on his own, he's a nobody in a Democratic administration. He'll be in 3 years. Coakley will be there for decades.

    She's no differenet than Jeff Sessions in my opinion, or Joe Biden. She's a bigger danger to criminal justice reform because all he can do is exercise his lone vote while she will be in there sponsoring and co-sponsoring more draconian bills.

    Obama will be in office until January, 2013. Brown can do very little damage in that time on crime bills. Coakley, on the other hand, once she gets to the Senate Judiciciary and has Joe Biden whispering in her ear, can do quite a lot.


    Well (none / 0) (#43)
    by standingup on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 09:28:08 AM EST
    at least we clearly understand that for you crime bills and criminal justice reform clearly come before everything else.    

    As to the importance of the U.S. Attorney and independence of the AUSA, Don Siegelman might disagree with you.  Oddly enough, Leura Canary is the only Bush holdover in Alabama yet to be replaced.      


    Were the situation (none / 0) (#40)
    by bob h on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 06:03:38 AM EST
    reversed, the Republicans would have no hesitation about using the 10 days for vote certification to bring the reconciled bill to a final vote in the Senate.  But because we, the Democrats are finer people we would not do that.

    Remember Norm Coleman? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 02:04:18 PM EST
    How long did he hold up Franken? They'd do it in a heartbeat, even if Brown lost convincingly.... they'd claim voting irregularities or fraud.

    Is it possible if Brown loses and contests, he could hold up Coakely and the Dems still wouldn't have their 60th vote in time?