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August 29, 2009

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Why are these people allowed to play out their dog-in-manger fantasies? The Senate should be pursuing other avenues, other legislation.

If the Finance Committee comes up with something to vote on, vote on it, but these people have been too much of a bottleneck for too long.

The answer to that question is to be found either in the Office of the Senate Majority Leader or somewhere in the West Wine. There are clear avenues under Senate Rules to bypass a standing Committee. Rule 14 allows any Senator to put any bill directly on the Calender, even one that is a duplicate of one already referred to Committee. Once on the calender it has long been the Leaders prerogative to decide when to bring it to the floor, Technically this requires a motion normally passed by unanimous consent, to clock a move to the floor would mean a direct challenge to the Majority Leader. At which all appeals to comity would be out the window.

Reid could pull the trigger, something or someone is keeping him from doing that. The most benign explanation is that Reid thinks the Republicans are hanging themselves with the rope he is giving them. But some of us more paranoic types hear voices whispering in our heads: 'he is selling you out'. Because this has gone beyond some sort of catering to Obama's desire to be post-partisan.

Monday will be interesting.

The complaints keep coming about Enzi, Grassley, and other conservative republicans when the true difficulty is with senators who are not in the progressive fold, first, ideologically, and then fiscally. Baucus and Conrad have trended away from voting for legislation, particularly as the spending has ramped up. Even Senator Feingold is responding to the runaway spending mania. The progressives who never have a concern about spending 'other people's money' can still be counted on but most all the other senators feel a need to take a further look before following these people over the cliff.

sorry, GOB, "conservatives" still have a long way to go before they earn any legitimacy when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

by my reckoning you'll need another 12 years of good behavior to make up for giddily cheering all of W's spending. then, maybe you can lecture other people about "runaway spending".

and not another war until you've finished and paid for the two you already have.

Actually, it's looking more like nothing comes out of the Finance Committee at all, from where I'm sitting.

And since Bauchus recently said he supported the public option* (albeit "personally"), it looks more and more like the Finance committee is not going to be the block in the road (at least not he one it was looking like not long ago).

*sorry about lack of link -- I'm in the air right now, so it's a little hard to multi-surf at the moment

It's stuff like this that makes the Democratic Party look weak and ineffectual. Time and again, Enzi and Grassley have played Baucus et al for suckers. But as the saying goes, the fish rots from the head and I place the blame squarely on Senator Reid.

Can anyone name one, just one, accomplishment of Reid's "leadership?"

GOB - I think that's partially right. If they just outright opposed things, fine. What makes them difference is this pretense of negotiations when they were never committed to reform, and are now trying to kill it. Snowe is the only hope

'sorry, GOB, "conservatives" still have a long way to go before they earn any legitimacy when it comes to fiscal responsibility.'

This is accurate (but I would say 'conservative' politicians) and I never cheer federal spending and my effort is not to lecture but to point out why this road is getting rough for progressives. Some of these legislators who are drifting away are doing so not even because they are staunchly anti-federal spending but because they represent constituencies that are fiscally conservative and who think they have had enough for now.

Some of these legislators who are drifting away are doing so not even because they are staunchly anti-federal spending but because they represent constituencies that are fiscally conservative and who think they have had enough for now.

Who? Can you name these legislators and also point specifically to where they objected to Medicare Part D legislation? I mean, Medicare Part D was a huge government outlay with NO funding source; it was paid for directly from the deficit. The proposals under consideration generally have funding sources associated with them.

It is absurd to suggest that legislators are acting according to a consistent principal of fiscal responsibility if they support deficit funded programs proposed by Republicans while opposing deficit neutral programs proposed by Democrats.

'It is absurd to suggest that legislators are acting according to a consistent principal of fiscal responsibility if they support deficit funded programs proposed by Republicans while opposing deficit neutral programs proposed by Democrats.'

I didn't mean to suggest this (if I did). What I thought I was saying is that there are some senators who will always vote for legislation they favor regardless of fiscal considerations. Some might say a true progressive is someone who votes for progressive legislation under such conditions. Now we have senators wavering from support for progressive legislation that they might otherwise support because of fiscal considerations and concerns about their voting constituency. These, under the above description, would not be true progressives. But they are democrats and that is why I was commenting that Enzi and Grassley are not a problem for the progressive effort but rather it is those folks like Baucus, Conrad, Dorgan and Bayh.

Some might say a true progressive is someone who votes for progressive legislation under such conditions.

GoodOleBoy, would you please refrain from using this "some might say" construction? It only clouds the discussion. Who might say? Are the people saying this crazy? Wrong? Are they in any way representative of a real constituency? If this is what you think progressives believe, then have the guts to say "this is what I think" rather than cowardly hiding behind the words that "some might say."

More to the point, this definition of progressivism strikes me as insane. I know of precisely zero progressives who accept this definition. So why are you talking about a non-sensical definition that no one uses?

Now we have senators wavering from support for progressive legislation that they might otherwise support because of fiscal considerations and concerns about their voting constituency.

We don't know that this claim is true. I mean, you haven't given any evidence to support it. Here are some things I don't think are true:

(1) That the Baucus group likes progressive legislation in general,

(2) That this group of Senators was ever particularly interested in serious health care reform along the lines of the bills under consideration,

(3) That either constituency support or fiscal considerations are the primary obstacle for the Baucus group.

Why should we believe that any of these things are true?

These, under the above description, would not be true progressives.

Again, why are you referencing your made up non-sensical definition of progressives? You've created a definition out of whole cloth.

Now we have senators wavering from support for progressive legislation that they might otherwise support because of fiscal considerations and concerns about their voting constituency.

As Turb points out, you're not presenting any evidence for this assertion.

But as long as we're engaging in mind-reading, I think a far more realistic take is that these are senators who were never particularly invested in health care reform to begin with, who are heavily invested in remaining in the good graces of the health care industry as currently constituted, and who will now embrace "fiscal considerations" as a convenient fig leaf.

"The bills would expand comparative effectiveness research..."

And if there's anything that Republicans fear, it's science and facts.


"...that would be used to limit or deny care based on age or disability of patients,"

And this accusation is based upon ... what, exactly?

I think that I understand the point GOB is trying to make, but I am far from convinced of its validity. Aside from the town hall screamers, I see no evidence of Congresscritters' constituents objecting to health care reform or its costs.

Rather, what I believe to be happening is a perfect storm of cowardice and conservatism. At least with respect to what's happening in the Senate. Baucus is no great progressive and has allowed himself to be played by Enzi and Grassley over and over. Now, either Baucus is like a battered spouse who believes Enzi and Grassley will stop beating him or he genuinely does not believe in reform. I prefer the latter option, as it seems slightly more plausible given the evidence.

I think the same rationale covers the various incarnations of Blue Dogs and "centrists." Even though many of these Dems' constituents would benefit from health care with a public option, they are simply too indebted to insurance companies and other health industry interests (look at Bayh, whose wife is on the board of a rather large health care player).

The other thing at play is simple cowardice. If nothing else, the last eight years have shown just how weak and wimpy the Democratic Party is/can be. Not only did they fail to offer an iota of opposition to the former administration, they willingly followed it over the cliff. Democratic obeisance to conservative policies is as simple as labeling them unpatriotic. And with the constant refrain of socialism, Canadian system, etc. it should come as little surprise that many Dems in DC are assuming the prostrated position.

This post uses data from ProgressivePunch to show how voting patterns on progressive bills have changed significantly this year.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/08/shifts-in-voting-patterns-in-senate.html

Two-thirds of the senators basically haven't changed and the other third is divided between those who are voting more with the progressive agenda and those who are shifting the other way. All but one of those moving significantly against the progressive agenda are democrats, and several are those who are frequently criticized here with suggestions they don't belong in the democrat party. The author of that post lays out some possible reasons that are behind these shifting vote patterns and spending is among the reasons listed.

I'll take the hit for overlaying my bias on government spending and suggesting that is having more influence on these patterns than I can justify. I guess that real reason is the standard one that the corporate devils have been out front again.

In any case, I do believe something is going on to change these vote patterns.

BTW, does Harry Reid have nobody who will stand up for him?


GoodOleBoy, what exactly are you trying to say? Can you please try expressing your argument in simple direct sentences?

Sorry -- I finally got a chance to read over my comment, and wanted to make a correction:

When I said "it's looking more like nothing comes out of the Finance Committee at all", I meant nothing out of the Gang of Six meetings.

Obviously, it helps if the Finance Committee as a whole reports something, and it's looking like it actually will -- though along essentially partisan lines.

Publius, I don't know if you've seen Captain Ineffective, my superhero webcomic making fun of Max Baucus. I thought you might enjoy it.

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