To Your Health: Oh, That Filibuster-Proof Majority

This week’s biggest health care story shouldn’t even be making headlines: Democratic leaders in the Senate are finally pressuring the entire caucus to help bring a health care bill to the floor by sticking with the party on procedural motions. Astute readers will ask: “But aren’t Senators supposed to stick with their party on procedural motions?” Yes, of course they are.

Health care reform is the Democrats’ biggest political battle in two generations and the crown jewel of the president’s domestic agenda. It’s hardly unreasonable to demand that Senate Democrats side with their party to defeat a filibuster.

Democrats knew Republicans would filibuster a health care bill no matter what. So the central political question was how to thwart them. The options were: Pick off enough Republican votes to defeat a filibuster, pass the bill with a simple majority through budget reconciliation, or demand that all 60 Democratic senators vote as a bloc to defeat a filibuster. (These senators could still vote against the bill, if they so chose, but without a filibuster the bill would pass by majority vote.) The first strategy failed spectacularly, and the second was controversial and difficult to execute. The last option is the simplest and most obvious. It’s scandalous that it took Senate leadership all summer to lay down the law.

At TAPPED, Mori Dinauer argues that “‘moderates’ who are holding out are uninterested in how their intransigence looks to the rest of the Democratic party, but knowing the pressure’s on makes it all the more likely reform passes a floor vote.” They don’t care how it looks, but they certainly care if the party leadership is prepared to cut off their fund raising dollars to make a point.

A bill is beginning to seem like a fait accompli to some Democrats, but the opponents of health reform aren’t giving up without a fight, reports Christina Bellantoni in Talking Points Memo. The GOP-allied Tea Party Express is undertaking a massive fund raising drive for “The Countdown to Judgment Day,” which is one year to the day before the 2010 elections. The Tea Party Express is a major force behind the disruptive town hall health care protests.

In Salon, Mike Madden argues that the prospects for passing a bill with a public option are looking up as Democrats begin the horsetrading that will combine the various health bills passed by Congress into a single piece of legislation:

Congressional aides and outside activists say the White House is still pushing for the public option in private talks. A growing number of Democrats in the Senate say they think the bill will include some form of public option, including Majority Leader Harry Reid and health committee chairman Tom Harkin. “President Obama has said all along that the public health insurance option is his first choice” for making health insurance affordable, said Jacki Schechner, a spokeswoman for Health Care for America Now, a union-backed coalition that supports reform. “We want to make sure he gets his first choice.”

Switzerland and the Netherlands are frequently cited as examples of countries that contain costs and cover everyone without a public option. However, as The Nation’s Eyal Press explains, these countries have only managed to do so by eliminating for-profit health insurance, which in the American context, would be a far more radial solution than a public option.

In Mother Jones, James Ridgeway takes the New York Times to task for a story about the conflicts within the AARP over health reform. Members in their fifties have a different perspective on private vs. public health insurance than those over 65 who already qualify for Medicare. As Ridgeway explains, it’s the status quo that’s pitting Americans of different ages against each other. If Medicare covered everyone, age would cease to be a third rail in future health policy discussions.

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.

Courtesy of the military
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium


Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham8 years ago

However, as The Nation’s Eyal Press explains, these countries have only managed to do so by eliminating for-profit health insurance, which in the American context, would be a far more radial solution than a public option.

When will these lies and deceits stop being propagated on the American public!

The Netherlands has private health insurance that is answerable to the government and must follow guidelines and laws as stipulated. All insurance companies in the Netherlands make a summation profit to tune of multi millions in euros.

Where do these people, so called journalists, or reporters get their information...from thin air? And why are they continually allowed to publish falsehood?

At any rate, that statement made by The Nation’s Eyal Press is false.

Michael A.

I dont think age should play a factor. Reform is to break apart, mix up and put back together. This is what I and most other real people in America need. Its a small majority of the wealthy that want things to stay the status quo. BTW I am neither Democrat or Republican.

Jean A.
Jean A8 years ago

Thr rich get richer and we will always have the poor. When someone gets killed over this skirmish maybe then politics will cease on healthcare. It is our right to have universal healthcare. Kick the insurance companies out of it, and the Republicans disgust me, they are listening to sick Beck and Insanity Hannity, and I am hearing more comments to get rid of the senators. Change is coming I hope!!!

P H.
P H8 years ago

Yes please eliminate for profit health insurance, in fact lets eliminate the insurance model altogether as it is not working and does not work. Insurance is not health care, this may seem an overstated simplicity but think about it. We have auto insurance. does it improve the safety of the cars? Does it improve the gas mileage? does it do anything at all to improve anything remotely associated with automobiles? NO it is mandatory for everyone to have, most people never make a claim, and the insurance companies rake in the profits.

Yes we need universal health care, not a public insurance option, and certainly not one that is mandatory that we purchase! How is this going to solve the health care crisis, the insurance companies are part of the problem.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons8 years ago

Why don't Obama pass a single payer system by executive order? It seems the obvious solution.

Mary B.
Mary B8 years ago

I just added a comment and it dissapeared. This is the second time that has happened. What's going on?

Mary B.
Mary B8 years ago

President Obama's 1st choice was single payer coverage.[Medicare for all] not universal health insurence forced on everyone.We will get it[single payer] because ultimately those who are opposed to it will be known as the ones responsible for the unnecessary suffering and financial hardship of a huge group of people who do the low wage work that our culture requires to keep it running.All their excuses,[it's socialized medicine, I don't trust the government, I just don't like Obama...bla bla bla] will be seen for the stinkin' thinkin' it is.And once we have Universal Single Payer, we can start tweaking it so it works well for care providers, including alternative care and preventative health care, like food suppliments, regular body work, herbal formulas, excersize equipment. There's so many excellent ideas that haven't even been brought to the table yet because the insurance companies and their goons have been stealing all the attention away from what people really want.For those who still want to buy private insurence, you are free to do so, but you will no longer be allowed to prevent the rest of us from having what we need.

Barbara V.
Barbara V8 years ago

Lordy love a duck! Can you imagine eliminating "for profit" health insurance? Switzerland has managed it and all's well, but the USA? Wouldn't that kick up a fuss, ostensibly thinking in terms of people who need coverage! Might be a little hard on the CEO's.

James M.
James M8 years ago

Judith, you hit the nail right on the head! Every part of our society doesn't have to be for profit; that's just what Wall street and the bankers want. I've about had it with this country, when did the majority of Americans turn into stupid greedy robotrons that won't do anything to help your neighbor? Health care should be a basic right, there shouldn't be people in the US that have to choose between the rent and the doctor's bill. What slays me is people who would call themselves "Christians" would deny their fellow Americans basic health care and yet watch the insurance companies grow wealthy and their executives filthy rich!

Cosmic Surfer
Jan Strain8 years ago

Oh, I can answer Judith's question. It is as easy as looking at the dollars SPENT by the carriers to buy off Congress and those cute little 501(c)4 and 3 orgs like IWF, AFP, Chamber of Commerce, et al.
THE ONLY people in Congress supporting real change have taken less money (and perks) from the insurance companies and the corporate health vampires than the rest.
Max Baucus? One of the top recipients of insurance and corp health care money in Congress, The Republicans far out weigh the Democrats in this arena but the BLUE CROSS Dems are coming up fast. The only reason they have received less money is because the Republican minions of the carriers were in power over the past 15 years until 2006...Now the Dems get to play catch up
Check it out
Health Care PAC Recipients

Lobbyists - money spent for 2009
Pharma Campaign Contributions
Insurance Campaign Contributions

As far as those shills with tax free status? IWF (far from being for any woman in the US, this is the women's auxillary for AFP and the Neo-Cons with Lynne Cheney and Midge Decter both card carryin' neo-cons) - The Chamber is fighting for their big members..the insurance companies
and the beat goes on