Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 16, 2009

DELAYS FOR DELAYS' SAKE.... The Senate remains at a standstill, thanks to Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) latest stunt, forcing the full reading of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) 767-page amendment on single-payer.

It's apparently all part of the GOP plan.

August was bad for Democrats, and Republicans aiming to delay the Senate health care bill until after Christmas hope the holiday break will be even worse.

TPMDC checked in with Republican sources and some Democrats who say lawmakers could face the cold shoulder at best or angry constituents reminiscent of the summer town halls at worst if they leave town without voting on the bill.

Typical. It's not about substance, policy, or the public's needs -- it's about scoring some cheap points, delaying the process, and giving the Teabaggers something to do over the holidays.

But in this case, there's a temporary spending measure that's funding U.S. troops, which will end at midnight Friday. Coburn's little stunt, if it continues, means the Senate won't be able to take up a Defense spending bill until Saturday morning.

There was a point not too long ago -- I believe it's referred to as "when Republicans were in the majority" -- that playing procedural games that threaten troop funding during two wars was considered about the most loathsome thing a lawmaker could do.

Coburn doesn't seem to care. Killing health care is the priority.

* Update: Demonstrating, once again, who the bigger man is, Sanders pulled his amendment, rather than let the delays continue. He called the GOP tactics an "outrage," which seems like the appropriate description.

Steve Benen 3:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Dems popularity tanks any time it looks like HCR is getting watered down and Republicans are winning. The worse the outlook for HCR, the worse the outlook for Dems.

If Dems want good approval ratings and re-election, they need a good HCR bill. Their fates are inextricably intertwined.

Posted by: Memekiller on December 16, 2009 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the Dems could get that man who speed reads on TV to read Sanders' Amendment. He could get it done in no time, then the "Party of No" can STFU!! (At least till they think of some other delaying tactic!)

Posted by: mrspeel on December 16, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

lawmakers could face the cold shoulder at best or angry constituents reminiscent of the summer town halls at worst if they leave town without voting on the bill.

who said anything about going home? we get accused of a war on Christmas anyway, so who needs it. keep debate open on the HCR bill every freaking minute from now until it is done. Republicans want to go home? Fine. We'll have votes without them.

Posted by: zeitgeist on December 16, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

There was a point not too long ago -- I believe it's referred to as "when Republicans were in the majority" -- that playing procedural games that threaten troop funding during two wars was considered about the most loathsome thing a lawmaker could do.

So the Republicans are jerks? We all know that.

Do you oppose the Afghan War or don't you? If you genuinely oppose it, then you oppose funding the troops.

Otherwise, you're just another doubletalking American jingoist.

Posted by: mcguff on December 16, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I am surprised coburn has time for these shenanigans. His group, The Family currently has their bill in the Uganda government to kill gay people to see passed. They are the most unchristian group I have ever heard of. You think Jesus wouldn't want people to get proper healthcare? That's coburn's fake christian interpretation of it.

Posted by: Patrick on December 16, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

So, are Democratic operatives appearing on every news show talking about how Coburn wants to keep the troops from being paid?

Has every newsroom been faxed or emailed a statement from the Democrats deploring Coburn's lack of patriotism and raising the spectre that our troops in harms way won't have the funds they need on Christmas Day?

Or is the party, yet again, going to completely miss an opportunity to make GOP obstruction a nationwide scandal, and confirm in everyone's mind that they are wimps who love to be pushed around by the petty bullies like Coburn?

I swear, it's like those guys in DC never heard a thing about how to manipulate public opinion.

Posted by: biggerbox on December 16, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

And people want to vote Republicans back into power?

Posted by: PaulW on December 16, 2009 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think Steve was making a point about the GOP's ridiculous hypocrisy - not making a pitch for the war, mcguff.

Besides that, I'm not sure why you would want to withhold funding to troops who are already deployed and engaged.

Posted by: GiggsisGod on December 16, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

biggerbox What you said... never before have such a collection of limp dick assholes been assembled in one spot. oooohhh we wouldn't want to offend our friends across the aisle...please kick some more sand in our face

Posted by: john R on December 16, 2009 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

* Update: Demonstrating, once again, who the bigger man is, Sanders pulled his amendment, rather than let the delays continue.

There are times when I get very, very tired of always having to act like an adult... I look, with longing, on the days when I'd just lie down in the middle of a store or a street, and kick and scream until the adults around me gave in, for the sake of peace.

Why is it that it's always our side that gives in to childish tantrums? Why is it always our side that feels the necessity of acting like an adult? Why can't *we* indulge our "inner child" once in a while? I feel in perfect concert with Job: Why me???

Posted by: exlibra on December 16, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Considering that Bernie's amendment wasn't going to pass anyway, I'd say he was wasting as much time as Coburn.

It would have been nice to have the debate though. Isn't this supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body?

Posted by: Lance on December 16, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

so Coburn's trying to kill a piece of crap bill that does nothing but funnel taxpayer money to the insurance industry with no consequences?
why in the world would I have a problem with that?

everyone, conservative or progressive, should be cheering him. Too bad no Dems have the spine to do the right thing. Not a single one is willing to stand up like Lieberman and say remove the mandate, at least, or I'll use the power I have as a single Senator...nope, it's only "moderates" and "independents" who are allowed to pull that crap, because they're "principled".
All of the Dems who said they wouldn't back down on a public option, including socialist Sanders, apparently, have totally caved. PATHETIC.

Posted by: whatever on December 16, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

You know, with the release of 22 million Bushie emails, I think we should let 'em filibuster and take the time to read the choicest emails to the Senate. I'm sure it would be interesting to see how the GOP advocated the firing of attorneys on political grounds and maybe even that they knew perfectly well that there were no WMD in Iraq. Who knows? Would be fun and could attract the attention of television.

Posted by: MichMan on December 16, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Look up "smoking tweet" from Jim DeMint, just on NPR. Scoundrels

Posted by: neil b on December 16, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's a funky bill, but I think probably better than what we have now. As many, many people have said, with these huge (and hugely opposed) bills the idea is to get the foundation down, and fix from there (Medicare, Civil Rights Bill, etc.) If we don't get SOME kind of reform bill through this time, however flawed and inadequate, it will be another twenty years or so before anyone brings up serious legislation. Twenty years of worse abuse by the insurance companies than this bill would deliver - twenty years of people not having any access to adequate health care - twenty years of medically-related bankruptcies, and so on.

It's a matter of choosing the better of two not-too-great situations. I choose the one that incrementally advances us, and build from there.

When it comes to the Repub tactics, however, it's not really about whether its a social evil or merely a weak bill. It's about making political points. Conservatives aren't proposing a different approach, they are obstructing in order to prevent any change whatsoever.

Makes me very grumpy.

Posted by: Sister Artemis on December 16, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Mother of Mary on a skateboard, if Repubs can do this, why can't Dems show some guts and make them filibuster? Read the freaking phone book!!

Posted by: Wes on December 16, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

YES my fellow "MichMan", your suggestion is brilliant!

Posted by: G.Kerby on December 16, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

it's about scoring some cheap points

yea, and delay and distract is VERY successful for republicans, and will continue to be as long as Big Media is allowed to render every public discourse: democrats/progressives = bad, republicans/conservatives = good.

End of story, end of American ideals, let the unnecessary suffering continue.

Posted by: pluege on December 16, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Maybe the Dems could get that man who speed reads on TV to read Sanders' Amendment."

Only a few months ago they did almost exactly that. The Republicans backed down.

Posted by: Forrest on December 16, 2009 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

zeitgeist @ 3:16, I had the same thought awhile back. I just figured it would make good press to watch the GOP fume in juxtaposition to how much HCR means to the Donkeys. But you mention votes. Just because senators are missing doesn't really effect the 50 or 60 vote thresholds, does it? I seem to remember an incident several years ago when a Dem was oncall round-the-clock to ward off GOP mischief. Guess I just assigned myself some homework.

Posted by: Chopin on December 16, 2009 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

I am now rooting for the Republicans, god help me. Kill the fucking thing. Kill it before it's born. Kill it before it multiplies.

Christ, wake up Democrats! Corporate America owns you.

Posted by: Speed on December 16, 2009 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Dammit, just as I suspected. The headlines are all about the Republicans defeating single-payer. Not anything about Coburn being an ass, nothing about the Republicans obstructing, nope.

The storyline is 'liberals defeated by manly Republicans', aka 'the only people in Washington who know how to get what they want are the GOP.'

Thanks a lot, Democratic leadership. Another excellent day of bungling the message management to add to the long list.

I wish there was an actual party for me to belong to. You know, one that actually cared about winning, and achieving things? Man, how I wish there were.

Posted by: biggerbox on December 16, 2009 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to remember an incident several years ago when a Dem was oncall round-the-clock to ward off GOP mischief. -- Chopin, @20:06

Jim Webb (D-VA), keeping the Senate "open" and making sure that Bush couldn't make interim appointments. There are times when I want to wring his neck (FISA "fix", for example) but, all in all, I'm a lot happier with him than I am with my other "centrist Dem" Senator -- Mark Warner. The two cancelled one another's vote on re-importation of drugs last night and it was Webb who voted with the people (and for cost cutting), while the effing executive (Warner) voted with the Big PhRMA. Like keeps with like, I guess...

Posted by: exlibra on December 16, 2009 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

GOP strategy has one purpose now -- drive wedges between the Democratic base and the Democratic congress. Forcing Sanders to withdraw his amendment to keep the process moving advances that goal. It is Lieberman's role in the Democratic caucus -- to force the leaders to take steps that alienate the base. The ultra-left here and elsewhere, cooperate fully and unwittingly in that strategy. The fact that Coburn made this move makes it all the more clear.

Posted by: tom in ma on December 17, 2009 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

Content?

What was in the Sanders amendment? Why was it so long in the first place? Was it worthwhile?

On the long drive to and from Los Alamos yesterday, morning and evening, I kept hearing about Sen. Sanders' "767 page amendment!!!!"

No word as to what it contained.

Posted by: Zandru on December 17, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Please ignore previous comment

I read down further, and learned from Political Animal that it was an amendment to establish a single payer health system. No wonder it was long. And definitely worthwhile - might have been better as the entire bill...

Not that NPR saw fit to mention this, however. Damn that Librul Media!

Posted by: Zandru on December 17, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

exlibra, YES, that's the incident I was thinking of. Thanks.

Posted by: Chopin on December 17, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK
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