Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold says the White House wasn't helpful when it came to the public option:
I've been fighting all year for a strong public option to compete with the insurance industry and bring health care spending down. I continued that fight during recent negotiations, and I refused to sign onto a deal to drop the public option from the Senate bill. Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option in the bill an uphill struggle.Note that Feingold does not say that the White House "killed" the public option; he just says their lack of support was unhelpful.
McJoan at DailyKos goes through the highlights of the bill for us, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Monday after-the-storm punditizing. is there more clean-up to do after the snow or after the vote?
Unless some legislator pulls off a last-minute double-cross, health care reform will pass the Senate this week. Count me among those who consider this an awesome achievement. It’s a seriously flawed bill, we’ll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it’s nonetheless a huge step forward.
It was, however, a close-run thing. And the fact that it was such a close thing shows that the Senate — and, therefore, the U.S. government as a whole — has become ominously dysfunctional.
Senate dysfunctionality is an under-recognized theme of importance. In fact...
Greg Dworkin (Arena):
The Senate is on the verge of passing health care reform for the first time in decades. The House has a better bill, and committee awaits. While it isn’t everything, it’s something. Those who prematurely wrote off health reform simply got it wrong. Those who recognize how dysfunctional the Senate has become got it exactly right. But as many commenters have noted, the vibrant discussion has been on the center-left as to how to proceed, while the right has had only "death panels, socialized medicine and Hitler". No new ideas, no part in the discussion. Self-exile is painful to watch, and bad for the country. This could have been a better bill with Republican input. Instead, Eric Cantor disease has spread to the Senate, and "Just Say No" substitutes for policy discussion. It’s sad, and it’s also not going to help Republicans get back in power.
Thomas E. Mann:
The much-pilloried Harry Reid led an increasingly undemocratic and dysfunctional institution to a stunning victory for the majority party. He deserves an apology from any number of prominent Washingtonians. His House counterpart, Nancy Pelosi, burnished her reputation as one of the most powerful and effective Speakers in the history of Congress. Together they succeeded in unifying a fractious party representing diverse constituencies and rightfully fearful of the electoral consequences of their action or inaction.
Going into Monday morning's crucial Senate vote on health-care legislation, Republican chances for defeating the bill had come down to a last, macabre hope. They needed one Democratic senator to die -- or at least become incapacitated.
Does the Republican Party have any ideas? ...
In reality, both parties have plenty of ideas that they would like to implement if given the political power to do so. Republicans’ policy ideas primarily involve cutting marginal tax rates and regulations. The question isn’t whether the Republican Party has any ideas. The question is whether the party has any relevant ideas.
But there is one question about the process that people are likely to be debating for years: Did the road to passage really have to be this rocky? The shape of the legislation — and specifically, the fact that there were never going to be 60 votes in the Senate for a government-run public option — has been clear for months. So why did Reid insist upon taking the public option to the Senate floor as part of the initial bill he introduced, making the fight even messier and at times seriously jeopardizing Dems' chances of passing such a landmark bill?
Last week, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) reintroduced his Prisoner Abuse Remedies Act. As the New York Times opines today, this is a bill Congress needs to pass.
The culprit is the Prison Litigation Reform Act, (PLRA) passed under President Clinton in 1996. It was aimed at reducing frivolous lawsuits by prisoners, but due to its requirement that the prisoner sustained a physical injury and exhausted all administrative avenues before filing suit, it became a vehicle through which prisons and courts denied claims by inmates who were sodomized (finding no physical injury) and the victims of other conduct, such as "strip-searching of female prisoners by male guards; revealing to other inmates that a prisoner was H.I.V.-positive; forcing an inmate to stand naked for 10 hours."
Juveniles, who are most at risk in prison, often have the hardest time following through with the administrative hurdles. [More...]
Rep. Scott's bill would reform the PLRA by removing the physical injury requirement and using the standard applicable in other civil rights litigation. It would also allow prisoners under 18 to file suit.
In 2007, we had a Republican dominated Congress and the bill failed. This year, there's no excuse. This is a bill that needs to pass both houses.
Sometimes you need more than C-Span. Our Brian Beutler was at the Capitol for the early morning vote, and captured the scene as relieved Democrats stuck together to move health care forward. Vicki Kennedy was there to embrace her late husband's former[...]
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Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog!: Progressive Expectaions
The Bobblespeak Translations: Meet the Press - December 19, 2009
Majikthise: COP15: Obama's high-handed pseudo-deal
Health insurance industry bailout passes. It's not true that everyone's unhappy. The Shrill One: kill the filibuster. OMG global warming is so fake. What's next for progressives.[...]
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As the familiar story goes, after meeting in the White House with president-elect Dwight Eisenhower, sitting-president Harry Truman grimly quipped: "He'll sit right here and he'll say do this, do that. And nothing will happen. Poor Ike -- it won't be a bit like the Army."
Although Truman was being a trifle ungenerous -- Eisenhower, as the Allies' Supreme Commander ten years prior, was well aware of institutional inertia born of parochial interests -- he was also echoing, broadly and accurately, the long-enduring frustrations of his office: Congressional deadlock, bureaucratic lassitude, the political system's natural sluggishness, factional disputes, personal antagonisms, immovable ideological camps ... ad infinitum -- in short, every imaginable roadblock to progress.
Having been there, done that, Truman was, however, correct about most incoming president's expectations. No matter how well read they have been in the history of their peculiar institution, virtually every one of them has been shocked to learn just how powerless they can be, Gulliverlike, tied down and overwhelmed by swarms of competing Lilliputian objections.
While on the campaign trail, future presidents -- again, even the best read, best schooled, best informed among them -- start thinking their Big Mo will carry their Mojo into the White House. Their overflowing rallies and sense of inevitability confirm it; and that, in turn, creates a set of symbiotic expectations: Hey, the base believes, we really can do this, no exceptions.
Then the presidential hand goes on the Bible, Congress convenes, ballyhooed legislation is submitted, and somber meetings and committee negotiations commence. And generally it's at about this point in a new president's term that one starts reading passages such as this one, from the weekend NY Times: "Little this year has come as easily as Mr. Obama and his team once imagined."
It -- the immutable reality of Washington's ways -- nails them every time.
Also at this point, having recovered from the transcendent intoxication of campaign hopes, sober White Houses adjust their expectations. It's either this, or unmistakable -- worse, unforgettable -- failure. And then one reads passages like this, again from the Times: "After weeks of frustrating delays ... Mr. Obama decided to take what he could get [on health care], declare victory and claim momentum..., even if the details did not always match the lofty vision that underlined them."
Yet, there is always what we might call a realization gap -- a kind of electoral lag -- that forms among some of any president's base. They're still mired, if you will, in the unadulterated expectations of the campaign trail; they're still pumped to go fight, fight, fight -- always a vague exhortation -- not having themselves sat at numerous negotiating tables and discovered firsthand just how immovable some parochial interests and political factions can be, and not having accepted that progress often means quick study and sudden adjustments.
Case in point: Howard Dean's appearance on "Meet the Press" yesterday. It was astonishing. I sat watching, slack-jawed but in utter agreement with Dr. Dean about the evils of private health insurance and the coming legislative battles with this monstrous special interest, should the recently tailored Senate bill be signed into law. Yep, that's what will happen all right. No doubt about it. I couldn't have agreed more.
So how, you might ask, could I sit vigorously nodding my head up and down while my jaw slackened in disbelief -- even disgust?
Simply because Dean repeatedly ventured that the bill should be improved, it should be improved, it should be improved -- while not once taking the good time and trouble to inform us just how the bill realistically could be improved.
The Senate doesn't have the votes. Never did Dean acknowledge that simple, inescapable political reality. We already know the bill could be better; we know every bill could be better -- and all of those vastly improved bills dwell in the uncompromising fantasyland of progressive otherworldliness.
That world is precisely what Truman's predecessor sought to escape -- and his successful escape is what launched 20th-century liberalism's upward trajectory. Franklin Roosevelt didn't play around long with celestial visions and he absolutely rejected unrealistic stubbornness. He took what he could get, when he could get it, knowing that small successes -- however disagreeable -- ultimately accumulate larger than their sum.
Obama, as a student of history, has learned from the master. He has, as the Times further framed his approach, "put a high value on ... keeping things moving, recognizing that history generally does not remember the to and fro, only the big sweep of presidential accomplishments" -- which build on themselves.
And that was the profound summary offered by Paul Krugman last Friday in defense of the result of Obama's approach: "Bear in mind ... the lessons of history: social insurance programs tend to start out highly imperfect and incomplete, but get better and more comprehensive as the years go by."
One does what is doable; that is the key to triumphant progressivism. Some understand that. Some don't. Barack Obama does. Howard Dean -- the unheeding personification of Harry Truman's lament -- doesn't.
Monday's Headlines: Obama's Guantanamo policy rings a bell Spanish quest to identify black soldier who fought against fascism in civil war Labor Data Show Surge in Hiring of Temp WorkersFed's approach to regulation left banks exposed to crisis [...]
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