Posts Tagged ‘Scott Brown’

Health Care Reform After Scott Brown

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Well, a rough week for the Democrats to say the least.

 A few thoughts on the situation.

No neutral (or even biased) observer can look at the events of the past year and say that Harry Reid has been an effective leader. He got rolled consistently throughout this process. He took the bait at the beginning when a handful of Republican’s said that they would negotiate in the Finance Committee on a health care bill and he continued to buy into that line through the fall when it became increasingly clear that they didn’t share his goals and weren’t negotiating in good faith. As the process dragged on and on, he got rolled by all of the conservative Democrats that could basically take this bill or leave it and as every one got their concessions in his quest for the magical 60 vote filibuster-proof margin. Then he had an agreement on allowing people to buy into Medicare at the age of 55, which would have at least turned up the heat on the big insurance companies a little bit. Joe Lieberman proceeded to roll him on that one. 

Every time Reid got rolled, the process was extended a little longer and every time he got rolled, someone got another concession out of him…and support for what he was working on declined. Last week the Republicans got what they had been waiting so impatiently for with the election of Scott Brown and the destruction of Reid’s 60 vote strategy.

So where to go from here?

Republicans say (as they have been saying since the election of Barack Obama) that the Democrats should abandon their agenda and act more like Republicans. The polls are against the plan, the American people don’t like it, the Democrats should listen to the will of the voters.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, that’s not the type of system we have. It’s a representative democracy, not a Greek government by referendum. A majority of the American people didn’t support the surge in Iraq. A majority of American people think that we should get out of Afghanistan. A majority of people don’t think the economy gets better when you give out tax breaks to rich people.  A majority of people (depending on which week you asked the question) regularly supported a public option for health care. Would the Republicans have wanted the people who were in power to just take a poll and abide by the results? Of course not.  

The duty of elected representatives is to do the research, find out what they think is best for the country, enact that policy, and then do your best to convince the American people that the decision you made was the right one. 

The election of Scott Brown is close to a total disaster for the Democrats. But the Democrats should find the silver lining. Harry Reid’s 60 vote strategy was a failure. With the passage of the Senate bill by the House and an agreement by a majority of Democrats, the Congress should be able to circle back and make changes with a 50 vote majority that will improve the bill. If Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Lieberman, etc. don’t want to vote for the new changes, they can take cover and the concessions they got over the past year can (and should) be deleted from the bill. Who knows, maybe that will help them to avert disaster in their state. I doubt it, but we’ll see.  

Once it is passed, there will be real accomplishments to point to (no denial of pre-existing conditions, 30 million new people insured) instead of just two competing versions of reform and a bunch of publicity on the sweetheart deal that conservative Democrats got.

On a more fundamental level, the Democrats face a real test here. Scott Brown’s election is a punch in the face to Barack Obama. How he and the Democrat’s respond will affect how they are judged by the American people. Will they alter their strategy, but continue to fight for what they believe in, or will they cower in a corner for the next year and play defense in anticipation of the beating they may receive in November?

George W. Bush was often on the wrong side of public opinion (and of history in my opinion). But he prided himself on doing what he thought was right, no matter what the polling said. The Democrats could learn a bit from his example and stand up for what they believe in. If they don’t, people are increasingly going to ask if they believe in anything at all.

The election of Scott Brown has shown that 2010 is going to be a brutal year for the Democrats, just like 1982 was a brutal year for Republicans. But If all they bring to the voters is excuses on why they couldn’t get anything done, I have no doubt that they are going to get a worse beating than if they pass this legislation.