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Are Dems Fleeing? Dodd and Dorgan Retire – How Does that Hit Health Care?

Are Dems Fleeing?  Dodd and Dorgan Retire – How Does that Hit Health Care?

Two Democratic senators unexpectedly announced their retirements on Tuesday. Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) announced that they would not seek reelection when their terms expire in 2010. Hopefully, health care reform will already have passed by then, but the departure of these senators will have implications for health care policy.

As far as the Democratic majority in the Senate is concerned, the two resignations probably cancel each other out. As a relatively conservative 30-year incumbent, Dorgan was thought to be the only Democrat who could win a seat in conservative North Dakota. Dodd, on the other hand, is deeply unpopular for his role in the financial crisis, but hails from a deep blue state, so it should be easy to replace him with another Democrat. In fact, as Eric Kleefeld reports for Talking Points Memo, Dodd’s resignation improves the Democrats’ chances of holding that seat.

As Jodi Jacobson explains in RH Reality Check, losing Dorgan would be a setback for reproductive rights. While Dorgan has a mixed record on choice, “Given his state, Dorgan’s voting record is pretty progressive on at least some issues otherwise driven completely by ideology,” Jacobson writes.

Dodd is reliably pro-choice, but the pro-choice credentials of the candidate favored to take his place, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, are even more distinguished.

Last year, Blumenthal sued the Bush administration over so-called “conscience clauses” for the Department of Health and Human Services which would have given employees more latitude to refuse to provide medical care that they disapproved of on religious grounds. (The Obama administration later reversed the rule.) In 1995, Blumenthal and the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against two anti-abortion protesters under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. “Our goal was to defuse a volatile situation before it escalated into a bloodbath, such as the fatal shootings in Brookline, Massachusetts,” Blumenthal explained at the time. Blumenthal and DOJ prevailed in court in 1997.

In other health care news, an unnamed Senate aide told the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog that the Democrats are planning to streamline the passage of the health care reform bill by skipping the conference committee. Normally, the House and Senate versions of a bill are combined in conference. This time, Democrats may skip that step by hammering out a deal that is acceptable to the Senate, having the House pass that bill, and then having the Senate pass the same legislation. That way, Democrats can circumvent some procedural hurdles in the Senate.

According to Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, skipping conference has become routine for big Democratic bills. These days, thanks to stricter rules about what can be added in conference, the House and the Senate are more likely to reconcile big bills through the aforementioned “ping pong” process.

John Nichols of The Nation argues that skipping conference will leave progressives out in the cold. Until now, a lot of progressive energy has been focused on strengthening certain provisions of the Senate bill in conference. If the Democrats decide to skip conference, that means that all the power will be in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and a handful of their closest allies.

Finally, Monica Potts of TAPPED discusses a new study that purports to show that the so-called “g-spot” doesn’t exist. Headlines are proclaiming that the g-spot is a myth. The results of the study have been misinterpreted in the general rush to proclaim that science has proven women wrong about their bodies. What the study really showed is that genes have little to do with whether a woman thinks she has one.

These results suggest that the g-spot isn’t a unique organ encoded in our genetic plan, like a spleen or a kidney, but that there’s no doubt that the front wall of the vagina exists, nor that some women report orgasms from stimulating that area. What other anatomical questions are investigated with surveys? Do you have a pancreas? Chances are you’ve never directly observed your pancreas. Whether you say “yes” depends whether you’ve read that humans have them.

Whether women agreed that they had g-spots had more to do with their age. Younger women, raised in an era where women’s magazines assert that g-spots are a standard part of female anatomy, were more likely to believe they had them. What this study was really measuring was a general belief in the existence of g-spots, which has no genetic component. Belief in the pancreas has no genetic component either, but it doesn’t follow that these organs are mythical.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.  This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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David Berkowitz: Flickr via Creative Commons
by Lindsay Beyerstein

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41 comments

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8:54AM PST on Jan 10, 2010

dodd's gone :(

9:12PM PST on Jan 8, 2010

Noted

3:53PM PST on Jan 8, 2010

"Are Dems Fleeing? Dodd and Dorgan Retire"

Dorgan's been in office 41 years; Dodd, 35. Are they supposed to stay until they drop dead? Besides, Dodd's fully aware that he would have had a tough campaign ahead of him. Perhaps he felt he was getting to old for the way politics are campaigned and run today.

It's time alot of Senators and Congressmen/women retire ... time for some fresh, new young blood in both the House and Senate.

9:41AM PST on Jan 8, 2010

Despite Dorgan's leaving, I am hoping the Dems. can keep their 60. Please, everyone vote....we can't go back.

9:39AM PST on Jan 8, 2010

Dorgan comes from a basically conservative state so chances are that he will be replaced with a conservative or at most a moderate from either party, most likely Republican since Dorgan is the first Democrat elected to the Senate in that state ( because he was more conservative than the Republican that ran against him). In any case, it is estimated that both the House and Senate will lose Democrat seats in the 2010 elections. Both the Democrats and Republicans were given money by the health insurance lobby (if you want to check this, it is public record). Senator Dodd was given some for his vote, as was Senator Ben Nelson (D) from Nebraska ($650,000 to his 2012 campaign fund) to help get his vote. There were many other Democrats that got money from the health insurance lobby, so they are just as guilty as the Republicans for not getting true health care reform passed. The Republicans just made it easier for the Democrats to put the spotlight on them and play the phony blame game and keep all but the people that wanted to find out the truth from blaming both parties for the current health care bill. Republicans did try to come up with a solution which actually would positively reform health care and make it affordable to everyone, but neither party wanted to work together on the issue. Republicans are no more guilty of voting in a party block to show party unity than the Democrats are.

8:33AM PST on Jan 8, 2010

If Dorgan wants to leave I say GOOD we don't need stinking Conservatives working against us no matter which side of the aisle they sit!! If they're conservative then they should run as rethug! There are many Progressive Dems out there ready and willing to take their place. AND the cost of running a race will be cheaper...Dodd on the other hand, I have mixed emotions. He is a Liberal, but a bit wishy washy at times. Any way it folks like him that Truman made his comment to "If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen!!"

9:48PM PST on Jan 7, 2010

Jim Steve...I should have been clearer. I was referring to your 1:11 post.

9:45PM PST on Jan 7, 2010

Jim Steve...well said!

5:05PM PST on Jan 7, 2010

I thought the G stood for Government?

OK, I know, seriously

4:50PM PST on Jan 7, 2010

I'm still chuckling over this: a seqway from a political event, into a discussion of the G spot and female sexuality! Nicely done! It kind of adds some nice spice to a dull subject. Kind of like adding frosting to a cake, or a sauce to a boring dish.

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