Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 9, 2009

FULL NELSON.... Just a week ago, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the chamber's most conservative Democrat, said he would likely join a Republican effort to kill health care reform unless the bill featured the Stupak amendment language. Late yesterday, the Senate rejected Nelson's push anyway -- 45 senators voted to add the measure to the bill, 15 short of what was necessary.

So, where does that leave us? Nelson did not, in the wake of his amendment's defeat, announce that he would join the GOP filibuster. Instead, the Nebraskan said the vote "makes it harder to be supportive" of the bill. Asked if he now opposes the legislation, Nelson said, "Not at this point in time."

Roll Call reports that some Democrats on the Hill believe that Nelson's support is slipping away, and suspect he may side with Republicans to deny health care reform an up-or-down vote.

In their quest to secure a filibuster-proof 60 votes for the overhaul, Democrats said Nelson's support was appearing unattainable -- with or without the inclusion of his abortion provisions -- given the myriad objections he has to other parts of the bill, including the creation of a public insurance option.

"The concern about Sen. Nelson is that he's gotten himself pretty far out on a couple of limbs," said one senior Senate Democratic aide. [...]

Democrats privately said they do not think Nelson will end up voting for the health care overhaul, and the likelihood of losing both Nelson's and Lieberman's votes is very real.

"I think we lose one of the two of them for sure," said the senior Senate Democratic aide. "If I'm reading it right, we lose Nelson for sure, and there's a greater than 50 percent chance we lose Lieberman, too."

Now, the Roll Call piece was, I believe, written before the new compromise on the public option was reached, which may change the larger dynamic. Indeed, for both Nelson and Lieberman, the top demand was the defeat of the public option. The measure has clearly been changed dramatically.

Let's not forget that just a few weeks ago, Nelson said he doesn't like the existing restrictions on abortion funding, but added, "If there's no public option, perhaps some of the [abortion] problem goes away." Since he's signaled at least some support for the compromise, perhaps last night's deal will keep him in the fold. Or, perhaps not. We'll see.

Obviously, arithmetic being what it is, losing either Nelson or Lieberman makes Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins that much more important. Indeed, because the Senate no longer operates on majority-rule, losing Nelson and Lieberman would make the only two Republican moderates entirely necessary to prevent the death of the bill.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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it's been great to see how the Clown Car Senate has been able to perform its death-panel-to-insure-corporate-profits" responsibilities in such harmonious dialogue for 'democracy' and with such grace and sustained politeness.

i am gratified to see such Clown Car Senate action --naked, as it were -- in my lifetime here in this great great great country.

my eyes just well over with tears this morning at the glories of our especial nation.

...and all this 'blessing' without yet contemplating the Copenhagen business)

Posted by: neill on December 9, 2009 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Congress is deeply unpopular.

Senate and Senate leadership horribly unpopular.

GOP horribly unpopular.

President fairly popular. Except his growing problem of being perceived as not having the courage to fight.

One would think that the President could open up a public fight on the merits of the bill, right now and force these Senators to very publicly do a very unpopular thing.

But somehow that doesn't seem likely.

Posted by: samuel Knight on December 9, 2009 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK
the only two Republican moderates entirely necessary to prevent the death of the bill

Can't we just build some gigantic multi-billion dollar god-knows-what in Maine in return for their votes?

Posted by: j.e.b. on December 9, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Good. I don't want individual mandates. OBama promised no individual mandates. He wasn't willing to give up anything in return for them.

He deserves to lose. I can't wait to see him lose in 2012 so I can see the rest of you conservadems nash your teeth and wail and moan about how evil us liberals are for not supporting a neoliberal president. How evil we are for letting the Republicans take over, even though we laid out our demands and told you what would happen if you ignored us.

Because really, moderate smugness is beginning to nauseate me to the point where I'd rather see Republicans in power. At least then I know to expect to be fucked over.

Posted by: soullite on December 9, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Really, if this bill is so awesome, why is the Insurance industry chanting "WE WIN!!"

If they won, Americans lost.

Posted by: soullite on December 9, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

There is no bipartisan support for Obamacare.

There IS bipartisan support to defeat Obamacare.

That is why America is safe.

Posted by: Al on December 9, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

We don't have a class of nuclear-powered destroyers designed for hunting down renegade terrorists in caves and deserts in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Bath Iron Works, we are looking at you to plug that gap!

Posted by: N.Wells on December 9, 2009 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

soullite: untalented GOP troll or bona fide Dem with advanced mental illness? Inquiring minds want to...nah, I don't give a shit. Yawn.

Posted by: shortstop on December 9, 2009 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Soullite, if you don't want individual mandates, then you don't want health care to work. That's how the game (theory) plays out. Obama was mistaken in his original proposal, and any honest economist would tell you this.

One way or another (whether insurance mandates, national insurance, or national health care) if it's not all in, then the people who (think they) are healthy opt out, making insurance that much more expensive, which causes more people to opt out, etc. The fact that employer group insurance contains a mandate (and only insures people healthy enough to work, generally) is the only reason that the system we have now works at all. If it goes all private, then only sick people buy insurance, and it is incredibly expensive (each causes the other, it is a vicious cycle).

Posted by: dr2chase on December 9, 2009 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Cut the bullshit. Are you kidding yourself? Nelson is a republican.

Or do you disagree?

Posted by: JW on December 9, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

.....Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the chamber's most conservative Democrat...

Understatement of the Year award nomination

So the former CEO of an insurance company, the guy who already voted with Republicans once against invoking cloture in 2007 and with Republicans to invoke cloture in 2004, the guy who cut a deal squelching the filibuster of Bush's 3 most conservative appellate court nominees, the guy who's so fiscally responsible that he voted with Republicans on the 2001 unfunded $1.3 Trillion tax cut and was the sole deciding vote in the 2003 tax cut, the guy who organized the cutting/eliminating of stimulus funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, NASA, NOAA, Head Start, school nutrition programs, and school construction and in their place organized additional spending on defense operations and procurement, the guy even Tom Coburn accused of violating the Federal Funding Accountability Act of 2006 for his inserting millions of dollars into the 2007 defense spending bill that would benefit Ben junior's employer, the guy who suggested his abortion principles could be bought by killing the public option, that guy is the most conservative democrat in the senate?

You don't say.

Posted by: oh my on December 9, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

As mentioned in the article, this was written before the compromise. If the public option is out, then Traitor Joe should be in. He said that was his objection. Also Nelson should be in because the Stupak language would no longer be necessary since no public option=no public funding of abortion. Everybody else was already on board in the Senate. They did this to get Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Joe Lie's votes. It will pass. Medicare buy-in sounds very promising, because people 55-64 are the most expensive to cover and have the hardest time qualifying for insurance under existing rules. I am very encouraged by this. As with Social Security and Medicare, they weren't born perfect and had to be improved over time. It will be the same with this bill. I wanted a public option, hell, I wanted single payer, but being able to buy into the same plan that Senators have sounds pretty damn good to me.

Posted by: Patrick on December 9, 2009 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Patrick: Hope you understand that being able to buy into the same plan Senators have does not mean paying the same thing out of pocket as Senators do. 70% of Federal health employee health insurance is paid as an employer benefit - the full cost of the plans is quite expensive - $400+ per month for individual policies, $900+ per month for families, and would probably be higher for non-employeess purchasing since, as was note above, the current plan is only for people who are healthy enough to be working.

Posted by: dcsusie on December 9, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone (i.e. Sen. Nelson) who thinks that issuing bonds is an alternative to taxation, rather than something that will cause more taxation later, is an idiot.

Posted by: Mxyzptlk on December 9, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Really, if this bill is so awesome, why is the Insurance industry chanting "WE WIN!!"

If you're going to make grandiose claims, you should at least link to things that sort of support your point instead of pulling two words out of a two-paragraph story and insisting that when a health insurance insider said, "We win!!" in response to the defeat of the public option, s/he was really saying that the whole bill is a win for them.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 9, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, arithmetic being what it is, losing either Nelson or Lieberman makes Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins that much more important. Indeed, because the Senate no longer operates on majority-rule, losing Nelson and Lieberman would make the only two Republican moderates entirely necessary to prevent the death of the bill.

And Snowe says she disagrees with the Medicare "compromise," which Collins will also likely oppose, as reported at TPM.

The only way we're going to get health care is when Democrats run real Democrats against these scum like Nelson and Lincoln, and the President goes out and campaigns for the challengers in the primaries, then campaigns across the country for the issue.

The above is an item that's about as likely to happen as will be the sun rising in the west tomorrow.

Thank god I have the VA!

Posted by: TCinLA on December 9, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I have another suggestion: rather than relying on the votes of the Harpy twins of Maine, why don't we just trot out the guillotines ? It would be like killing 40 birds with one stone.

Posted by: rbe1 on December 9, 2009 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

If the same plan is available to all, then the larger purchasing power should cause rates to be lower that federal employees plans currently are. I would hope it would be a good deal cheaper than $900/family/month. That being said, at least I would be able to buy insurance, currently I cannot, due to preexisting conditions.

Posted by: Patrick on December 9, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to know when people are going to wake up and start exposing the secret society, ( C Street, The Family, The Fellowship) that lawmakers such as Nelson and Stupak belong to and who they are actually representing and why.

These two and unfortunately other lawmakers are nothing but puppets to the religous right and their minions.

Posted by: Tom In Maine on December 9, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

When will Reid just admit that there aren't 60 votes in the Senate to do ANYTHING and just go to reconciliation and ram through what he can get.

Just say "screw them!" and tell Nelson, Lincoln, Landrieu and Lieberscum to sod off and vote through a public option tied to Medicare rates and dare the House not to pass it!

Then they can tell Nelson and Lieberman that theyare no longer a members of the Democratic caucus and can go and join with the Republicans.

If they aren't on board for this, then who needs them?

We can't just swallow whatever neutered piece of shit that Ben Nelson will accept! The Republicans were willing to use the nuclear option to pass Bush's judicial nominees.

If the Senate has to admit that they can't pass anything because of Republican obstructionism aided and abetted by a few traitors in the caucus, then it's time to use the nuclear option!

Posted by: Cugel on December 9, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

"If the public option is out, then Traitor Joe should be in. He said that was his objection. Also Nelson should be in because the Stupak language would no longer be necessary since no public option=no public funding of abortion. Everybody else was already on board in the Senate. They did this to get Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Joe Lie's votes. It will pass. Medicare buy-in sounds very promising"

You have heard of Lucy and the football have you not? Whatever the objection today, if Democrats come up with a new "compromise" tomorrow they will only find new reasons to be opposed to it.

Nelson and Lieberman simply want to block health care reform because the insurance industry REALLY doesn't want health care reform. Period.

The "public option" is just their sound-bite for why they are opposed.

They will NEVER vote for anything, no matter WHAT it is. Collins and Snowe will NEVER vote for anything that increases health care for the American people. They are Republicans, which means they are American hating scum.

They live in Maine, which has a large number of "moderate" Democrats so they make appropriate "moderate" noises from time to time. That's all.

But, when push comes to shove they will NEVER buy in. Obama already tried this, remember? He already tried to ask Snowe what it would take to get her vote. Answer: Nothing.

Collins? Answer: nothing. The Baucus committee tried for months to come up with some face saving "compromise" with Republicans that would sell us all out for a few Republican votes. Result: Nothing.

They are all totally opposed and don't care if they are responsible for health care reform failing.

If it fails, then they can argue that it was BAD. Nobody can prove they were wrong, because the bill never became law. If it passes and they opposed it, then people will say: "Why did you oppose this good idea?"

So, it has to fail.

Posted by: Cugel on December 9, 2009 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hey. By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. Help me! Looking for sites on: Burns or phone book. I found only this - people phone book. Just in this management frank instructions find to the website and beyond - the other, phone book. Phone book, anyway, after they know the old things, they together want on the upshot and show into their traditional everything type search. Thanks :rolleyes:. Azalia from Sweden.

Posted by: Azalia on February 18, 2010 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK
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