Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Did Snowe Really Melt?

                                          Alex Brandon / AP
Senator Olympia Snowe said several hours before a scheduled committee vote, "Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls, and I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time."  

She went on to say, "My vote today is my vote today. It doesn't forecast what my vote will be tomorrow . . . The majority has the votes. It has the votes in the House. It has the votes in the Senate. So it shouldn't be about the mathematics of vote-counting, but rather the mechanics of getting the best policy." 

Though the Democrats certainly do have the votes to pass health care reform without her, her "Yes" vote keeps her relevant, keeps her name attached to reform and the watered-down Baucus bill alive.

If the Senate Democrats end up crafting a bill without a "public option" in order to appease Olympia Snowe and the conservative "blue-dog" Democrats when a more progressive bill could pass without them, then the American people should vote them out of office.

The Blue Dogs Democrats must be forced to vote for cloture and close off debate. A progressive bill then could easily pass with 51 votes.

If they don't, the other alternative – reconciliation (a legislative process that allows a contentious budget bill in the Senate to be considered without being subject to a filibuster) which needs only a simple majority to pass legislation, may become necessary.

Either way, I remain confident that a progressive health care reform bill with a "public option" will passed both the House and the Senate and the President will sign it before Christmas.

As I have said before – there is much on the line. Both the Democrats and the Republicans know it. If a health care reform bill is passed that forces all Americans to buy health insurance and it does not include a "public option," the outrage and repercussions could be devastating for Democrats. However, if Democrats are successful in passing legislation that provides an affordable public option that will reduce health care costs, the Republican party may never recover from the defeat.

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