Wednesday February 24, 2010
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It doesn't take a PhD in history to figure out that the reason President Obama is so closely - make that, utterly - focused on health care reform is because he and his people have decided this will be his FDR moment.
I have no reason to know this is what happened, except I know how people in Your Nation's Capital think. Immediately after the election in November 2008, Barack Obama and his advisors got together to decide how they were going to make Barack Obama's Presidency the most significant since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930's and 1940's.
The election results convinced them they had a plenty big canvas and a lot of paint and they were going to cover it with brilliant colors from edge-to-edge.
There was global warming - which, way back then, his people believed was based on real science and a full year before we would enjoy three feet of snow dumped upon us over a five day span.
There was labor law - card check would reverse decades of labor losses in the private sector, even though public sector labor unions were doing well.
There was America's reputation overseas - shattered by George W. Bush, which Obama would fix by (a) closing Guantanamo Bay; (b) getting out of Iraq; (c) nice-ing Iran and North Korea into submission; and, (d) turning over the governing of Afghanistan to Afghans.
There were also the issues of bailing out the financial system; bailing out the international insurance industry; and bailing out the U.S. automobile industry (see "labor law" above).
The unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in January 2009 but was on the way up and has remained stubbornly above 9.4 percent since July 2009.
And, there was health care, which is the only one left.
The White House along with the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate believed they could use their huge majorities to ram a Social Security-like health care plan through the Congress shortly after Labor Day, 2009 with a signing ceremony which would have rivaled that Obama election night event in Chicago.
Alas, those same legislative geniuses sent the Democratic Members of Congress home for the August recess with the equivalent of a major health care reform bill written in crayon on a three-by-five index card.
What happened? The dreaded TOWN HALLS happened. And whatever forward momentum the Ds had built up on a health care reform bill disintegrated right before their very eyes.
Undaunted, the Congress returned after Labor Day, the Democrats negotiated with themselves in private, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced a bill to the House floor in November. The House passed the Democrats' bill by an overwhelming vote of 220-215 - a five vote margin.
Meanwhile over in the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid kept the Senate in seven days a week for weeks on end, bought off Mary Landrieu (D-La) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb) with tens of billions of dollars paid for by taxpayers in the other 48 states, and finally got to the necessary 60 votes on December 21.
In January, Scott Brown won the Senate election in Massachusetts and cut the Dems' margin in the Senate from 60-40 to 59-41. No more filibuster proof majority.
Regular readers know how loathe I am to blow my own horn. However, in this case I must take exception to my rule against personal horn-blowing to remind you that way back on December 16 - this would be about a month before the election in Massachusetts - I wrote the following:
Because of the enormous budget implications of this legislation, it is quite likely that Harry Reid (D-Nev) will bring up [health care reform] under reconciliation. Republicans will scream bloody murder. Democrats will sheepishly withdraw to the cloak room.
I got a stack of nasty-grams from senior Congressional and White House reporters informing me that I was an idiot because that simply could not, and would not happen.
Well. Guess. What?
According to yesterday's Los Angeles Times:
The bill will pass the House and the Senate and, healthy or not, it will go to the President for his signature.
Democrats in the Senate are rallying behind the use of a bare-knuckle legislative procedure known as budget reconciliation to push through a separate package of healthcare measures to satisfy liberal Democrats in the House.
Health care reform will pass and Obama's legacy will be secure, but like King Pyrrhus, the price of his victory may well be the loss of Democrat majorities in the House and Senate.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to a cool page showing unemployment rates over time, the House and Senate roll call vote, the LA Times piece on reconciliation, and King Pyrrhus.
Also a Mullfoto of the damage done by a snow plow to an innocent car and a Super Catchy Caption of the Day.
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