Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Daily Strike-11/21/09-Proceed

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Just moments ago, the Senate voted 60-39 to bring the health care bill to the floor. All Democrats voted yes, and every Republican voted no, save for Senator Voinovich (R-OH) who was absent.

Although this procedural vote only marks the beginning of a long process on the Senate floor, it is significant for a number of reasons. First, it shows that Democrats are indeed capable of sticking together for procedural votes. The 60 vote coalition would probably not hold today if they voted to cut off debate on the bill itself, but at least we know it's possible. Second, it shows that all Democrats, while maybe unhappy with parts of the bill, at least want to see the process move forward. This shows that at the very least, there are at least 60 Senators who don't want to see this effort fail. Finally, it means that the Senate can begin debate on the bill next Monday, the 30th, which means that they'll probably have enough time to debate it and pass it by Christmas. With conference negotiations, this would put a bill on Obama's desk by the State of the Union, if all goes well.

There are a lot of hurdles coming up that will be painful and frustrating. A few Democrats said today that they would filibuster a bill with a public option. The way the bill is currently structured, states would be able to opt-out of a federal public option. The alternative out there, attributed to Republican Olympia Snowe (R-ME) would be that a public option would be available in states only if private companies failed to offer adequate coverage. Most liberals have scoffed at this idea, including me. Don't we already know that private companies, unchecked, are not providing proper coverage? I think though, given the choice between an opt-out and a
"trigger," the choice for progressives is actually not so clear cut. In fact, I think there is a good case to be made for a trigger, which I'll get into later. At least with the trigger, the choice of whether to have a public option would not fall into the hands of ideological governors/legislators in conservative states. The public option would be mandatory if certain conditions are not met. The trigger idea completely depends on how stringent those conditions are. Unfortunately, this is gonna be one of those bills that will be negotiated by a small "gang" of conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. I hope liberals will join those negotiations to make them more fruitful. If the trigger wins us the support of Senator Snowe (R-ME), which in turn gives cover to wavering Democrats, then it would not be the end of the world.

Thanks for tuning in, and check out our Twitter page from before to see our earlier updates.

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