Can anyone game out how health care gets 60 votes?

This one is for the armchair political strategists. A bit of background for those who don’t already know the details of what’s going on in the Senate.

There currently are not 60 votes for the Senate bill. Obviously, amendments will have to be made to get to 60, but many of those amendments would cost votes on the other side. Lieberman and Lincoln say they will not support a bill with a public option, period. Bernie Sanders says he won’t support a bill without one. Howard Dean has actually gone so far as to say the bill isn’t worth supporting without a public option, since all of the other reforms have been stripped out already. That has to stiffen some liberal spines and make them willing to vote no.
I can’t see any easy way to get 60. If it was a liberal Democrat saying they wouldn’t vote, I’d say they were bluffing. But Sanders isn’t a Democrat, so he probably isn’t. Sanders doesn’t care about the party, he’s not a member. And Lieberman and Lincoln don’t care if the bill fails either, Lieberman probably because he wants to get back at the party, and Lincoln because she needs to save her job.

Anybody have any idea how they pull it off?

The Democrats saying they will vote no without a public option will cave, which will mean Snowe and Lieberman will vote for it.

There is no plausible alternative. Even if Snowe can be persuaded, Lieberman can’t be. He’s out of a seat in 2012, if he even runs, and has no interest in the merits of the public option given that his reasons for opposing it are nonsensical. And the Democrats saying they’ll hold out are just posturing. They cannot credibly maintain to their constituents that they voted against health care because it wasn’t an improvement over the status quo; making unlawful the exclusion of preexisting conditions alone is enough reason for them to support the bill, since damn near 90% of Americans favor it.

But Sanders isn’t a Democrat. Why does he care? You believe Sanders will cave? I think that’s unlikely, given his position as an independent and his general temperament. Sanders doesn’t make idle threats. and he’s not interested in being bribed like Landrieu is.

He cares because he knows a bill without a public option is still better than the status quo and because his constituents would prefer he vote for such a bill.

True or not, the reconciliation option is available anyway. It only takes 51. Reid is wasting his time by caving to the pain-free filibustering the GOP has made SOP.

There aren’t any Republican votes available anyway, maybe Snowe but then she’d be drummed out of the party.

ONLY if the end result is a MORE extensive bill, and very very soon. What, do you think this is an *illiberal *bill? Something they’d want to oppose if they only had the courage? :dubious: Do you have any idea what liberal principles are, or that there are many who hold them sincerely?

Perhaps you ought to consider what the *does *care about, for one thing. There is no doubt that UHC is one of those things. For another, his power does come with his alliance with the Democrats, and his ability to leverage his vote with them.

In Lieberman’s case, you’re overlooking where he’s from - the capital of the insurance industry is in Hartford. You might as well suffix his name with (R-Aetna). Lieberman will vote the way his patrons tell him to. If they’re happy with the vast number of new clients a non-public-option bill would give them, he’ll vote Yes. If the public option is a threat, he’ll get it watered down enough first.

Not if they go through reconciliation.
Then a simple majority would suffice to get the bill passed.

Snowe’s out of the Republican Party anyhow, it looks like, especially if that list of 10 things goes through. They won’t fund her. I suspect a few others are as well.

Apparently reconciliation is might not work. It would be more certain to change the filibuster rules by a majority vote.

Why do we need 60? You pass bills with half plus one. That would be 51. If the repubs want to filibuster make them do it. Stand up and be counted . Stand up for days declaring their backing of a broken health care system. Let the Americans see who they work for.

They need to invalidate the procedural filibuster. And I advocate this no matter who might be in the minority at some future date. If you don’t have the courage of your convictions enough to own the onus of standing against a bill, stopping all Senate business and having it be VERY public (as it would if we went back to the old filibuster), then you shouldn’t be able to block a bill that way.

The modern GOP lacks the stamina for such things. Three or four days tops and they’d cut and run, leaving their (rhetorically) dead and wounded behind on the floor of the senate.

This is what I don’t understand about the whole filibustering issue. So the Republicans decide to obstruct any further Senate business by reading phonebooks or what have you. If I were the Democrats, you know what I would do? Film every minute of it and splash it all over every available media outlet. Look at the Republicans dithering while you the lucky citizen die of a preventable health problem that you can’t get treatment for because of your pre-existing condition.

The Republicans are trying to argue that people should continue to go deep into debt and die horribly so that insurance companies can continue to make record profits. And people actually react as if this is some serious argument that cannot be countered. I don’t get it.

There might be some senators who can be swayed on the cloture vote, even if not on the bill itself. That way, they can still tell their constituents/donors/colleagues/consciences (delete all which do not apply) that they voted against it, while still benefiting from whatever incentives the Dems offer them for the cloture vote.

I don’t have a problem in principle with requiring a 60% supermajority to passing a bill, but I don’t like the way it’s been implemented. Theoretically, the cloture vote is supposed to be to end debate. A yes vote on cloture should mean “I’ve made up my mind on the bill, and don’t need to hear any more about it”. Instead, it basically means “I’ve made up my mind on the bill, and think it should be passed”, with the folks opposing it casting a vote which should mean “I haven’t decided yet and think discussion should continue”.

Luckily, Lieberman is batshit insane and only counts for one vote. Sane members of congress (including female republicans) can see how it helps people.


A few flaws in the arguments. the reason I asked is because I gamed out every possibility myself and couldn’t find any way that a bill passes.

Now they could do reconciliation, but reconciliation is only for budget items. You can’t pass all of the bill through reconciliation, only the tax and spending parts. The new regulations couldn’t go through.

Plus if they use reconciliation to pass an unpopular bill, then the majority of the Democrats up for reelection in 2010 can kiss their jobs goodbye. Already, according to polling, the Republicans would unseat 6 Democratic Senators if the election was today. In addition, they are within striking distance of 4 more. I believe 16 Democrats are up for reelection. 10 of 16 losing their jobs doesn’t sound to me very palatable to them, thus I can’t see them resorting to reconciliation.

Here’s an interesting argument:

Perhaps you ought to consider what the does care about, for one thing. There is no doubt that UHC is one of those things

Sanders cares very much about universal health care. Problem is, by no conceivable measurement is this a universal health care bill.

I also think that unlike Democrats, Sanders knows that a failure to pass a bill is better than passing a really unpopular bill that doesn’t accomplish much. If a bill doesn’t pass, you can always take another bite at the apple later. If an unpopular bill passes and just ends up getting mostly repealed by a Republican Congress, then health care reform is done for a very long time.

“Any bill is better than no bill” is bad reasoning, even for people as notoriously stupid as politicians.

To those who think that Democrats should make political hay out of a Republican filibuster, why not just use the 2010 campaign season to make health care THE central issue if you are so confident Democrats can win that argument?

The 2008 election was about a lot of things, from the economy to the war on terror, to health care, to George Bush’s failures.

The Republicans are perfectly willing to make 2010 about health care. Are Democrats willing to take them up on that? Let’s make 2010 a single-issue campaign. Are Democrats so confident of the rightness of their cause that they are willing to take it to the people and try to win more seats? Just one or two more Senate seats means a health care bill passes easily.

The conventional wisdom of Senators and politicos is that passing a limited bill which can be expanded is much easier than passing the whole burrito at once. And as a general rule, ease of repeal is proportional to ease of passage.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I see no reason to doubt it. Once you have an EPA, even a toothless one, they can start incremenetally passing regulations until you have the modern EPA. Ditto medicare.

More important than any of that, if I pass a bill that prevents insurers from denying coverage of preexisting conditions, that’s going to win me more votes no matter what my district looks like. I guarantee it. The only people voting against a bill that has that as the most understandable provision (instead of the public option) are congresscritters deep in the pockets of insurance companies, one or two principled holdouts, and waterloo types like DeMint. Probably no more than 20 Senators, max.

**The conventional wisdom of Senators and politicos is that passing a limited bill which can be expanded is much easier than passing the whole burrito at once. And as a general rule, ease of repeal is proportional to ease of passage.

The CW is right, but here’s the problem: the bill is limited compared to what Democrats want, but it’s still way too comprehensive and huge to be palatable to the public. It could defintely be broken up. Why not do insurance reform first? Then expand Medicaid a little. Then set up exchanges. Then do subsidies, depending on our budget situation.

**More important than any of that, if I pass a bill that prevents insurers from denying coverage of preexisting conditions, **

From a moral perspective, everyone supports that. But does everyone support it when they find out that it would raise their insurance premiums? I’m not so sure. That’s why support for health care reform in the abstract will always be higher than support for an actual bill. Any insurance reform will raise premiums because it will have the healthy subsidizing the sick. Since the healthy are the majority, it means higher premiums for the majority.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul may get you the support of Paul, but sometimes Peter gets motivated to vote too. And there are more Peters than Pauls.

I think they should. Unemployment is not going to get much better before the 2010 election, and there will be a lot more people struggling to pay rising health insurance premiums when their only income is unemployment. A bad economy doesn’t bode well for Republicans andvocating social Darwinism.