Saturday, December 19, 2009

Health Care by Christmas?

The Dems have their sixty votes, and it was Senator Ben Nelson (D, Nebraska) rather than Senator Joe Lieberman (I, Conn) who said he would provide the crucial sixtieth Yea.

Apparently I hadn't been following this closely enough. I was surprised to find out there was a Democratic hold out! Given the press hullabaloo that followed Lieberman's conflict with a compromise in the bill that would let people 55 and over buy into Medicare, I (naively) assumed the Dems absolutely needed him to avoid a filibuster, thus all hope for healthcare rested in Joe's superior jowls. Not so!

Nelson from Nebraska is on board after a hot and heavy courtship by the progressives replete with chocolates, serenading by moonlight,  a little bit of playful teasing over restricting abortions, and the final touch that makes every starry-eyed Senator swoon: extra goodies to take home to the constituents. In this case goodies equal extra Medicare funds for Nebraska, according to The Atlantic and Wonk Room.  Everyone likes to be wooed now and again. 

So what now? The House bill and the Senate bill will have to be reconciled (*sigh*). Nelson has already placed a few quid pro quos on the relationship, announcing that he'd leave if there were any chances to the bill that he didn't like. But the NYT pointed out that in this dance, every Democrat has the chance to be such a heartbreaker. 

"Because the Democrats nominally control 60 seats in the Senate — the precise number needed to overcome Republican filibusters — every senator in the Democratic caucus effectively has veto power over the bill. No Republican is willing to support it." 

Progressive Democrats will likely try to resurrect the public option during the joint debates, angering conservative Dems. Republicans will continue shooting poison darts from the shadows, hoping one strikes healthcare in the jugular. 

For you political wonks out there, I'm not clear on something. Sixty is the magic number to invoke cloture and end debate, so you can go to a straight vote. But do the Democrats have to worry about a filibuster after the House and Senate have reconciled their bills?

To end here are some numbers:

  • According to Congressional Budget Office, the health bill will "yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion over the 2010-2019 period."
  • CBO also says it will cost $871 billion over 10 years, $614 billion of which will go to actually increasing insurance coverage. 
  • One-third of the 23 million non-elderly people who will still be uninsured will be illegal immigrants. 


Max Nova said...

Tomasky laid out the positives of the bill pretty well, I think most of these things remain accurate with whatever red-headed stepchild comes out of the Senate:

He's fast becoming my favorite columnist/commentator - you get politics, a bit of music talk, plus regular hating on Notre Dame. You can't beat that.

Matt Lindeboom said...

" Mad Tom O'Bedlam on crack"

Yes I like this guy too. Thanks for the introduction.

B.Graham said...

merry christmas!!!