Senator Numbers 50 through 65

Senator number 60 is Ben Nelson.  Olympia Snowe.  Nelson perked up and called some shots yesterday:  a “legitimate health bill” will have to garner 65 votes, if you will five Republicans.  At this moment in time, I am hard-pressed to tell you who Senator #62, 63, 64, and 65 are.

The dye is cast right there.  The fix seems to be in before any of those two votes yesterday, as they edge toward a bill that is a defacto “Insurance Industry Protection Act”.  I contemplate our bizarre Senate.  I need to brush up on some Senate history here, but I always thought that from the period of Franklin Roosevelt into Lyndon Johnson, the Filibuster was mostly just the Segregationists’ Trump Card as a last resort, and bills could and indeed did pass with fifty votes — the majority.  Bill Clinton’s marginal tax increase passed with 50 votes, Al Gore the tie breaker.  Was that through the process of Reconciliation, the same course that pulled Bush through his tax cuts in 2001?

In the days where Democrats were on the short end of a 55 to 45 split, the filibuster was being defended whole cloth, Fact Check dot com (or is it org?) was “fact checking” an ad from Democratic Party interest groups using clips from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the GOP was arugring that Federal Judges was a special case and thus unfilibusterable (has that one opposite — Judges are a special case and thus more filibuster-worthy, frankly), there were a few liberals arguring that in the long term, “progressive causes” benefited from simmering the Filibuster away.  Kudos for them on keeping a long term view, I suppose.

So, yesterday we saw that strange spectacle of a couple of “moderate Democrats” — Carper of Delaware and Bill Nelson of Florida, voting for one more fiscally tightened (according to the Congressional Budget Office) and effective public option and for the less fiscally tight one.  The dye is cast.  The Insurance Industry will be fed, gadnabit.  How else do we explain this discreprency of money?

Today, Senator Bacusu hides behide that 60 tile in offing the “Public Option” mechanism.  He’s for it, but to keep at it is to risk no bill.  So he says.  Thus, he votes against the Schumer bill.  And Harry Reid spits out a fund raising letter suggesting that which is keeping us from Health Care Reform is the Republican Obstructionsims.  If true, that is because the system has been set up that way, with everyone from the 50th to 60th number reaching downward for cover (see Baucus) and on down to Ben Nelson’s call for number 65.  The fund raising letter is just that — a call for maintainance of a fund raising system.

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