Wednesday, July 08, 2009

J. P. Green discusses the fiction that Democrats must have 60 votes to pass universal health care with a public option

J. P. Green writes at The Democratic Strategist. In a recent excellent post he explodes the fiction that the Democrats must cater to the Republicans wielding the filibuster. A sample of his post, here is what it would take to apply a little discipline to the wayward Democratic Senators:
Despite all the hand-wringing to the contrary, political commentator Bill Press makes a well-stated argument that 60 Senate votes are more than enough for Democrats to get a progressive legislative agenda enacted. Writing in his syndicated column today, Press says:

For six months, we’ve heard nothing but complaining from Democrats: Our hands are tied, they insisted. We can’t deliver a public plan option for health care, or pass the Employee Free Choice Act, or repeal the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, or do anything else we promised to do if re-elected — because we don’t have 60 votes. We have to compromise with Republicans, instead.

That excuse was phony, of course. Senate rules require only 51 votes to pass legislation, not 60. Democrats should never have allowed Republicans to pretend otherwise.
Press believes the filibuster obstacle is overstated, particularly if the Dems can find the gonads to invoke a little party discipline:

As for those wayward senators like Nelson or Landrieu, there’s only one thing Democrats are lacking: discipline. This may be a whole new concept for Democrats, who are not used to marching in lockstep. But if Barack Obama and Harry Reid are willing to play hardball by withholding committee assignments, White House invitations, campaign contributions, and endorsements, they’ll be surprised how soon Democrats will get in line.
It's hard to argue with what Greene and Press wrote. But I have. I argued that the Democrats were playing nice this year before the epic health care battle that is now in the run up phase and which should peak this month for purposes of husbanding the strength until it was really needed. It's an inside-the-Senate thing.

For various reasons if this is true then the political reporters won't report it because it involves trying to infer the motivations of the Senate players, and inferring motives is not reporting. It is mind-reading. No actual player will go on record to provide something to report.

We'll soon see if I was right, sometime in the next few weeks. After that, J.P. Green will be completely correct. July is going to be interesting for political junkies.

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