Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nice Going, Democrats

Here we are, just one year after Barack Obama was inaugurated, and the Democrats have made a mess of things. While there have been many accomplishments since the President took office (as I mentioned in my previous post) the Democrats in general, as a group, don't seem to know how to run things once they're in charge.

The latest example of their ineptitude is Massachusetts. They took Senator Edward Kennedy's vacant seat for granted, ran a less-than-stellar candidate who went on vacation during a large chunk of the latter part of the race, and didn't get worried about the race until it was too late.

Now, the magic 60-vote filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate is gone, and the health care bill is in peril.

TomCat over at Politics Plus has a great summary of what happened and why, and what the Democrats will need to do to pull their chestnuts from the fire.

As he points out, the problem is bigger than just Massachusetts and just the health care bill:

"When Barack Obama campaigned for President, he promised 'bipartisanship' and 'change we can believe in'. Readers of the previous incarnation of this blog will remember that I repeatedly said that the two are mutually exclusive. One cannot effect change while attempting bipartisanship with an entity that refuses to compromise on anything. Obama had a choice. He could choose bipartisanship or change, but he tried to have both. The result was “business as usual”, not “change we can believe in”. Now I’m not saying that Obama accomplished nothing. He accomplished quite a lot. But his attempts at bipartisanship foiled the major items on his agenda."

Although I'm not a fan of Peggy Noonan, she has summed up the President's problems pretty well in her recent column. Basically she says that President Obama has misread the mood of the country and is not listening to people's biggest concerns.

"There is a disconnect, a detachment, a distance between the president's preoccupations and the concerns of his people. There's a disconnect between his policy proposals and Americans' sense, as expressed in polls, of what the immediate problems are."

At a time when the economy and job losses are paramount in people's minds, the Democrats have gone full tilt toward health care reform, which is kind of esoteric to most people. They want a concrete feeling of security, that jobs are coming back, that the economy is on track and all is well so they can start buying things again without feeling nervous about it.

While President Obama has stabilized the economy, he isn't getting credit for it, since he isn't talking about it as much as he's been talking about health care. And many people are still out of work and unemployment is still high. As the sign on the wall during Bill Clinton's presidential campaign used to say, "It's the Economy, Stupid!"

The President can still help salvage the midterm elections if he is able to focus on the economy, make people feel as if he is on their side, and prove he is listening to them.

Congress, in the meantime, will need to be working to save the health care reform legislation now that they don't have 60 votes. It is crucial that they accomplish something - even if they have to scale it back. (In fact, that might be an improvement - get some reforms in without the baggage and earmarks that were added to the bill to get the 60 votes).

Because if it doesn't pass this will be a huge setback for the Democrats and a rallying point for Republicans in the fall.

Of course, if it does pass and is unpopular, the Republicans will use it as a rallying point in the fall.

Democrats, as usual, are between a rock and a hard place - and as usual will probably be allowing the Republicans to define them to the American people.

It's going to be a long year.


TomCat said...

Thanks for the linkage, Mimi. I'm flattered. I think that the way to go on health care is for the House to pass BARF (Baucus Against a Real Fix), the Senate version of the bill, because its insurance company regulations(preexisting conditions/rescission) can't be done using the reconciliation process. Then use the reconciliation process to fix the flaws and include a strong public option.

Geez, I wish the Dems weren't so adept at the art of self-destruction!!

Regards to Baxter. :-)

Annette said...

Why do we need to have 60 votes anyway... This is just a fallacy and is something people need to stop pushing so hard. There is no need for it. A simple majority is all the Constitution calls for and if the GOPers want to filibuster the bill before the senate.. let them, let them stand out there on the floor and read it or do what they want. Put it up for a vote and see if we have 51 Democrats to vote for it and pass it.

That is all we need... not 60 as everyone seems to believe...

Fran said...

Feeling even bluer in a Blue State
We will know on the 26th if the 2 Tax the Rich measures pass.
I'm at least keeping that hope alive.

Damn. This is depressing

pygalgia said...

I'm (sadly) convinced that it's only going to get worse. Brown's election will re-energize obstructionism, and the supreme court has opened the floodgates for more corporate money in politics. The death of health care reform is only the beginning.

S.W. Anderson said...

Good post, but I differ on the importance of health care reform. Most people want it, in a form recognizable as at least something like they were led to believe it would be in the '08 campaign and early this year. They want to see Obama stand up and fight for it and lead Dems in fighting for it. What they see instead is uncertainty, dodging and weaving, caving in and muddling, not just with the Party of No but with subversives in the Democratic Party. That turns voters off — progressive Dems and lots of independents, too.

Re: "Now, the magic 60-vote filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate is gone, and the health care bill is in peril."

I saw the following headline yesterday and had a good laugh, until the gnawing pain in my gut returned. I though it appropriate to share here.

"Scott Brown Wins Mass. Race, Giving GOP 41-59 Majority."

Mauigirl said...

TomCat, I think they are already chickening out on passing the Senate version, unfortunately. So we don't know what if anything they'll do with reconciliation. Will have to wait and see I guess.

Annette, I agree - 60 shouldn't matter. But I think they changed the rule so you don't have to actually filibuster anymore, you can just say you will. That was the mistake. If Americans watched some moron from the GOP get up there and blather for days on end, holding up all business in order to prevent the legislation from coming to a vote, it would make them look really bad. But no one makes them do that anymore in order to have the effect of the filibuster. We need to go back to that.

Pygalgia, I agree - it is getting worse by the day, and the SCOTUS decision was another blow.

SW, I agree with you completely, it is the dithering and compromising that turned off voters. Didn't mean to imply they should forget about health care,but Obama does need to make Americans know he "feels their pain," as Bill Clinton put it. Not saying health care can't be part of the solution but the Dems have let the GOP paint the health care bill as another "big spending government takeover" type thing as opposed to something that is supposed to help the middle class. The fact that there is no public option and the insurance companies will benefit from it doesn't help that perception either.

Mauigirl said...

Fran, I'm hoping all is not lost - the idea that the GOP has a "41 to 59 Majority" as SW mentions does remind us that that one new vote should NOT make that a reality. If Bush could get his legislation pass when he didn't even have a 60 vote majority I don't understand why the Dems have so much trouble doing the same thing. They never want to be mean to anyone it seems. The GOP has no such compunction.

okjimm said...

Yuppers... the dems fucked up....and lost an election.

But when the repubs fuck up.... a few hundred thousand Iraqis die, the country goes bankrupt... and the Bitch Queen from the North runs rampant.

Comrade Kevin said...

When job numbers are still dismal and the economy is still anemic, people will eventually blame the party in power.

But the truly scary thing about all of this is that I really don't think anyone knows for sure how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Distributorcap said...

bush never had more than 55 senate votes (and at one point had 50) and GOT EVERYTHING he wanted

that says a lot about Obama - and how he handles congress

Harry Reid may be the worst legislator in the history of this country - he sucks worse than i can say.

pelosi is better, but not much. i hate to say this, but while congress is completely out of touch, this really all falls on obama and his complete lack of leadership - yes he is a great statesman - but we are not Britain, we dont have a separate head of state and head of govt - he is both

what finally is leading me off the obama bandwagon - he actually said he wants bipartisan work to undo the SCOTUS mistake. -- is he kidding? while snowe and mcsame came out against it - trust me, they will never vote to change it

besides Boner could barely contain his glee

Christopher said...

Massachusetts has high unemployment too. I think it's 8.5% statewide.

This number is minuscule compared states like Michigan, California and Nevada. Yet, for reasons known only to him, President Obama squandered all of 2009 on healthcare reform.

Every poll I've seen, shows the two issues Americans care most about is:

1. the economy
2. jobs

The two are intertwined and while I agree that no president can wave his or her magic wand and create jobs, the policies of an administration can help business -- large and small alike, create new jobs.

In 2009, I didn't see much focus on jobs. Maybe they were working behind the scenes and just kept silent, I don't know. But, I can't say I'm all that surprised by the meteoric rise of nudie Cosmo boy, Scott Brown, who drove around Massachusetts in his pick up truck running as a populist candidate.

Democrats had better be very worried about 2012. Obama is vulnerable.

Mnmom said...

In my mind, jobs and healthcare ARE linked. If you lose your job, you often lose your healthcare benefits too. We need both!! I say in a sluggish economy, we need healthcare first, so folks are free to take on 1 or 2 part time jobs to make ends meet without worrying about full time healthcare benefits.

knoxville cars said...

This is a lesson to never take anything, including an election, for granted.

libhom said...

If Obama and Reid hadn't governed like Republicans, the Democrats would have won in MA. I want Barack Obama in the Oval Office, not Barack Bush.

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