Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

July 22, 2009

RAISING THE BAR.... Passing health care reform in the Senate with, say, 52 votes would be viewed as something of a failure. Passing reform with 58 votes, the conventional wisdom tells us, would make the vote "partisan." Passing reform with 61 or 62 votes, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa said recently, wouldn't be quite good enough, because it would mean only a couple of Republicans sided with the majority.

As of today, Grassley has a new number in mind.

The final healthcare reform bill to make its way out of the Senate should have as many as 80 members voting for passage, one of the lead Republican negotiators of the health package said Wednesday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said it's his preference to see the vast majority of his colleagues on board with a final healthcare bill.

"It ought to be from 80 people in the center of the Senate, I would think," Grassley said during a news conference with Iowa reporters.

That's not a typo. Grassley told reporters reform ought to have 80 votes, which would come from his idea of what constitutes the "center."

That'd be quite a feat, given that Republicans want to use health care to "break" the president, make this Obama's "Waterloo," and by one GOP senator's own admission, at least half of Republican opposition to reform is based on nothing but partisan politics.

Also note the extent to which Grassley is hung up on process. What matters is the size of the majority, he says, not what's in the bill.

I'm reminded of a recent item from Matt Yglesias, on the "recursive loops" of Grassley's "bipartisanship."

By definition any bill that 60 Senators vote for has broad legislative support, which one assumes is the virtue of a bipartisan bill. And yet despite that fact, a new consensus is emerging that for a bill to be "really" bipartisan, it's not good enough to acquire the vote of the 41st-most-conservative Senator (Ben Nelson) or even the 40th- and 39th-most-conservative Senators (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe). You also need an additional even more conservative Senator. And now we have Chuck Grassley signaling that his commitment to this weird principle is so strong that he would vote against a bill of which he otherwise approves unless a Senator who even more conservative than Grassley agrees to vote for it.

But what's the point of this? Who does this help? The way bipartisan bills happen is that you forge a compromise with the moderate members of the other party. As it happens, there are only two moderate Republicans in the Senate. But that should be understood as the GOP's problem, not the Democrats' problem. If the GOP ran more moderate nominees, there might be more Republican Senators and then, as a matter of course, bipartisan legislation would require a broader coalition.

That was when Grassley was saying a 62-vote majority isn't good enough. Now he's throwing around 80.

Steve Benen 4:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Um, okay. Why not make the bar 110% to be consistent with sports metaphors?

Posted by: Former Dan on July 22, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

And the media will report this as fact (and ignore the 'break' 'Waterloo' comments, etc.). And a number of Dems will buy into this. What a nice friendly club!

Posted by: Obama / Steelers / etc on July 22, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Dan - I think that the Republicans will only hold out for 102 votes in the Senate. But you may be correct, too.

They will say that Ronald Reagan could have done it, and this proves that Obama is a failure. Then, the Republicans will set off for a retreat at The Big Rock Candy Mountain.

See you on the Lake of Whiskey!

Posted by: BuzzMon on July 22, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

isn't he that asshole who tweets that dumb shit lately (yeah, i know, who doesn't?) -- sounding like a 10 year-old boy with a stick in his hands?

Posted by: neill on July 22, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

50 + Biden = win

Someone should ask Grassley why he hates the Constitution.

Posted by: TonyB on July 22, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is the reverse of that old joke: what do you call someone who graduates at the bottom of their class in medical school?

Posted by: Jon on July 22, 2009 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Unless several dead former Senators also support it, it's no good.

Posted by: Conservatroll on July 22, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

The media should also report more on how many people these senators represent. As a rule, the Republicans represent small states -- nothing against small states, but if you're going to look at what is supported by the country, I would say that losing the vote of a senator from SD is not as big a deal as losing one from CA.

Posted by: Alex on July 22, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I can recall when the GOP claimed that
100% of Republicans + Joe Lieberman = Bipartisan.

How times have changed!

Posted by: Dave in DC on July 22, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Unless several dead former Senators also support it, it's no good.

Paul Simon + Paul Wellstone?

Posted by: TonyB on July 22, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Part of me welcomes comments like Grassley's. They indicate that the opposition is beginning to think that 60 votes might be attainable -- they have to lower expectations because they're facing a defeat. I don't know if that's true but it's one way to read these increasingly-stringent tests for "bipartisanship".

Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on July 22, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

50 votes is bipartisan enough for me.

Posted by: doubtful on July 22, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Simon + Paul Wellstone?

God, I'm missing them now.

Posted by: shortstop on July 22, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

The final healthcare reform bill to make its way out of the Senate should have as many as 80 members voting for passage, one of the lead Republican negotiators of the health package said Wednesday.

First of all, wouldn't "negotiators" suggest Grassley has an interest in passing something, and give him credit for good faith bargaining he doesn't deserve? That liberal media, i'm telling you...

But wouldn't this statement, and the bar-raising it represents, suggest that Grassley believes that health care reform will, in fact, pass?

As far as that goes, passing the bill with 50 votes, plus Biden, won't be a failure, it'd be a win -- enacted law -- screw with the Beltway Broders think.

Posted by: Gregory on July 22, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Social Security passed in the 30s with ZERO Republican votes. Does anyone see a problem with that?

Posted by: sjw on July 22, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking that a vast majority of the population couldn't care less what Chuck Grassley thinks. Who's with me?

Posted by: Curmudgeon on July 22, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Is Grassley getting weirder or is it just me?

Posted by: shortstop on July 22, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I hope it passes with 0 republicans supporting it. They have done nothing but obstruct. They don't deserve any credit at all for getting it passed. Then when it is successful, we use it as a campaign weapon.

Posted by: Patrick on July 22, 2009 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

80 votes!

You couldn't get 80 votes even if you were voting on the sky is blue.

Health care reform? 80 votes?

Grassley's a nut job.

50+1 is all it takes.

Posted by: Glen on July 22, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is the first move in some sort of scam to obtain a requirement for 66-vote super-supermajorities in the Senate. Then the right-wing can achieve proper minority rule such as we find in California.

Posted by: -jlinge- on July 22, 2009 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Right on, sjw: "Social Security passed in the 30s with ZERO Republican votes. Does anyone see a problem with that?"

If the Repugs are still obstructing and there's no vote before the recess, we may need to take matters into our own hands. No, not a teabag uprising. I'm talking about a non-violent, but paralyzing tactic, the general strike. With the internet, we can make it nationwide, and it will show the moneyed interests that we mean it when we demand reform. September 8 and 9, stay home and shut down the economy to show our support of a true national health care system. Everybody! Everywhere! General Strike for Health Care!

Posted by: bloglogger on July 22, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

When the Republicans win elections by big majorities, it's a mandate from the people and screw the Democrats. Hell, even when they barely win (2000 and 2004 come to mind), it's STILL a mandate from the people and screw the Democrats. (Does the phrase "nuclear option" strike a familiar note?) Electorally, Obama won by a landslide in 2008 and the Dems (theoretically) are filibuster-proof in the Senate but, lo and behold, if 80 senators won't or can't agree on health care reform, then what, I wonder, would Grassley prefer? Ritual suicides? Impeachment? I think we all know that if 80 senators agreed on health-care legislation it sure as hell wouldn't qualify as "reform". It would be a watered-down piece of crap that would allow the insurance industry to continue to control our health care (or lack of it). Enough with the bipartisanship -- screw the Republicans -- line up 51 Senators and get this done.

Posted by: 3reddogs on July 22, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't normally curse, but fuck that. This is a binary system. Either the bill passes or it doesn't We're not getting extra health care if it passes by a wider margin.

Talk about moving the goal posts.

Posted by: Master Mahan on July 22, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think this topic needs to have some more numbers applied to it. It's one thing to say that 50% + epsilon is not good enough. That actually might be a reasonable statement, though not one that any Republican with any sense of shame would be able to make after the Bush years ("Wait, a Democrat is voting for it? What are we doing wrong?"). But this goes a bit farther than that.

The kindest interpretation of Chuck Grassley's statement is that he thinks any healthcare bill to be passed should be supported by the 60 Democratic Senators plus 20 Republican Senators. That means he wants 50% support from the opposition party. It is already insanity to expect the majority party to propose a bill that the minority party would be on the knife's edge of passing themselves.

But he didn't actually say that, now did he. What he said was, "It ought to be from 80 people in the center of the Senate". The people in the center of the Senate are the 40 people to the right of center and the 40 people to the left of center. Since there are 60 Democratic Senators, there are 10 Democrats to the right of the center of the Senate. So if we interpret his statement as though it were said in English, that works out to the bill being supported by the 30 leftmost Republicans. He wants 75% support from the opposition party. Seventy five goddamn percent. Utter raving lunacy.

Posted by: Nick on July 22, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

In '05, having been reelected with 51% of the vote, Bush said he had a mandate. By the same arithmetics, 51 Senatorial votes is a mandate and perfectly sufficient.

Sure, 80% would be nice. Actually, what would be even nicer is if all 100 Senators voted, in a single voice, for a single payer. Both are as likely to happen.

"You couldn't get 80 votes even if you were voting on the sky is blue." -- Glen, @16:59

That's where you're wrong. If a *Repub* suggested such a resolution, I expect you'd probably get a 99% agreement.

Posted by: exlibra on July 22, 2009 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Seems that Senator Grassley is admitting that it is impossible to gain Republican support. His stated goal of 80 votes equals 100% of Dems and 50% of Republicans. Anything short of 50% GOP support and the right wing crazies start picking off the strays. They live in fear of their right wing just as much as the spineless Dems we read about so much.

Of course there is no flippin' way that 50% of the GOP senators will vote yes, so the most likely outcome, by far, is zero GOP yes votes. Dems should be, and I believe are, planning to pass health insurance reform without any GOP support, despite the bipartisan noises being made. If they aren't, they suffer from terminal stupidity.

Posted by: danimal on July 22, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Grassley associated with the Family?

Posted by: Jamie on July 22, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry that the un-Constitutional math of these things is the mainsteam language nowdays. Example today - NPR: "The Senate narrowly rejected an amendment.... The measure was defeated in a 58-39 vote." I'm wondering how that's 'narrow.' The sentence continues: "two yeas short of the 60 required." REQUIRED? Required by what? Oh, you mean that would have been required to shut down a filibuster no one was conducting?

Posted by: Terry on July 22, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, it's not "Raising the bar," it's moving the goalposts. As Grassley sees it, the Dems have the ball. Instead of fourth down and fifty-one, suddenly it's fourth down and eighty. With one second left in the game.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on July 22, 2009 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I suggest that Grassley demonstrate his own bipartisanship by voting for single payer.

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on July 22, 2009 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that Grassley finds it necessary to try and raise the bar. Can probably be taken as a sign that the dear Senator is getting nervous about some of his R-buddies caving because they're feeling more heat from their constituents than the RNC.

Posted by: SRW1 on July 22, 2009 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see Grassley is finally acknowledging that the Iraq War (77-23 in the Senate) was a partisan GOP operation.

Posted by: Redshift on July 22, 2009 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Now that my own Senator Dullard (of Colorado) has retired, Grassley is again the stupidest man in the Senate. What an oaf.

Posted by: SquareState on July 22, 2009 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why not insist that everything be unanimous?

Posted by: mlm on July 22, 2009 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

During the Bush administration, Karl Rove and the White House political operation worked to assure that their bills passed as narrowly as possible, with as little Democratic support as possible.

What has changed?

Posted by: Nancy Irving on July 23, 2009 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Grassley is the big problem , he more than anyone is trying to stall healthcare, his re-election gets more money from the healthcare insustry than from people in his state.

Posted by: JS on July 23, 2009 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

Greeting. The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give. Help me! Can not find sites on the: Buy cheap vardenafil. I found only this - levitra side effects vardenafil. Vardenafil, first symptoms like studies, lower-forehead, sildenafil or men increasing health drugs or talks in the varied ligand-binding major for research causes. Vardenafil, an underlying treatment of those use issues ship a dormant ischemia being clamped at the sexual status as the prostate for muscle. Waiting for a reply :mad:, Dulce from Jordan.

Posted by: Dulce on February 18, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly