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Congress Links -- The Day After Edition

January 20, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Democrats are reeling after Martha Coakley’s defeat to Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Health care reform is obviously affected, but it’s far from the only issue on the minds of lawmakers today:

  • The Democratic party has a new talking point for the post-Massachusetts political era: “It is mathematically impossible for Democrats to pass legislation on our own.” Technically, this is correct. There will only be 59 Senate Democrats soon – not enough to break a filibuster that is increasingly being applied to every Senate action. But can you imagine the GOP promoting its utter helplessness as a talking point? (The Plum Lime)
  • As I mentioned earlier, plans are in the works to create a deficit reduction commission. Paul Krugman checks out the plan and does not like what he sees. Drawing parallels to a failed Social Security commission, Krugman concludes that, “you can’t solve big policy issues with an independent commission unless there is some kind of agreement among a wide range of people about general values, economic philosophy, etc.. And right now there isn’t.” (The New York Times)
  • Former TSA administrator and FBI agent Erroll Southers, President Obama’s choice to head the Transportation Security Administration, withdrew his nomination today. Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint [R, SC] blocked Southers’ from being confirmed with a Senate hold. Ezra Klein rages that nobody seems to care that a Republican has successfully blocked the TSA from having a leader right after an Islamic radical tried to take down a plane. (The Washington Post)
  • Any plans to ram the health care reform bill through the Senate before Scott Brown is seated are definitely off the table. Today, President Obama called on the Senate to halt action on health care until after the senator-elect from Massachusetts takes his seat saying, “People in Massachusetts spoke. He’s got to be part of that process.” (ABC News)
  • After Scott Brown’s victory, some have suggested that Democrats go back to the drawing board on health care and try to pass it in smaller chunks through the reconciliation process. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones believes this plan is destined for failure saying, “Realistically, there are only two choices now: either pass the Senate bill or else wait another 15 years for any kind of serious healthcare reform. That’s it. That’s the choice.” (Mother Jones)
  • Ross Douthat has a smart take on the conservative movement’s adoption of the same internet innovations that propelled Barack Obama to the White House. Douthat notes, “Republican politicians have taken over Twitter. Sarah Palin has 1.2 million followers on Facebook. And in liberal Massachusetts, Scott Brown, the Republican Senate candidate, has used Internet fund-raising to put the fear of God into the Bay State’s establishment.” (The New York Times)
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  • spender 01/21/2010 4:42am

    I don’t see why they haven’t been using reconciliation to pass this in small chunks from the beginning. In fact, if they had spent the summer passing small improvements that were easy to read (not thousands of pages) and were implemented right away, and if they were written to help people rather than just make concessions to insurance companies to keep them from mounting a PR offensive, they could have gotten a half-dozen through and been more popular rather than less.

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