Friday, January 22, 2010

Booman: "Playing the Blame Game"

Al Giordano makes an amusing analogy comparing Democrats to the Simpsons and Republicans to the Flanders. Whose party do you want to attend? I agree with Al for the most part, but I just don't think we can lay the blame for the fiasco in Washington on the doormat of the Angry Left. While there is no doubt that a goodly percentage of progressive opinion leaders have spent the last year sabotaging the president, they didn't cause this problem. In retrospect, the Obama administration made some bad investments and some tactical errors, but they aren't really to blame either. The blame lies with the Democratic Caucus of the United States Senate, and with the Republicans who showed remarkable unity of purpose in using every tool at their disposal to delay and oppose a deal or vote on health care reform.

The Senate health care bill should have been ready for a vote by September. We didn't have sixty votes in the Senate at any point last year until Paul Kirk took office on September 24th. That was the point when the Senate should have passed their bill. It's also the Senate's fault that the public doesn't like the bill they eventually produced. I think both Atrios and I have been saying for a year that the public will hate being told they have to buy insurance from private insurers. A mandate without a public option was never going to be popular, and only corporate influence can explain why the Democrats in the Senate would attempt to pretend otherwise.

The public also cannot comprehend why 59 votes are not enough to get legislation passed. The Senate has let everyone down, including the president. It might make me feel better to blame some progressives that I think have been particularly unhelpful, but honesty compels me to cut them slack. They were just as deluded about the possibility of convincing Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln to support a public option as Obama was about convincing any Republicans to help him pass health care reform. But they didn't delay the bill, they didn't obstruct the bill, and they didn't water the bill down to the point that it was toxic.

The real blame for this falls on asshole senators from the Democratic caucus (and, of course, the Republicans). And the solution is the same as it ever was. Use reconciliation.

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