With 35 million people uninsured, and Big Insurance on the verge of receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies through healthcare reform, the idea that a Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson or Mary Landrieu could sabotage a public option should be a wakeup call to all of us as to the dysfunctionality of our Senate.
Of course, the reason conservative members of the Democratic Caucus are able to wield such power is the anti-democratic, not constitutionally-mandated filibuster, which requires a super-majority of 60 Senators to pass legislation.
That’s why so many pro-democracy folks are
The problem is that it’s not clear whether reconciliation would work. A senior staffer for a key progressive Senator tells me that even if Reid wants to go that route "the process would require that both the Senate HELP and Finance Committees go back and redo their legislation. Ditto for the House." Once that was accomplished, reconciliation would still be "enormously complicated and depends on the
Which brings us full circle to why we need to
As The Nation‘s Washington, DC Editor Christopher Hayes recently wrote, "The filibuster has become a cancer growing inside the world’s greatest deliberative body. What was once a rarely invoked procedural mechanism has metastasized and turned into a de facto supermajority requirement for any legislation. In the 103rd Congress (1993-94) there were forty-six votes on ‘cloture,’ the motion to override a filibuster and allow something to be considered on the floor. In the last Congress, the 110th, the first one in which Republicans were in the minority, there were a record 112."
There are some who fear that such a rule change would come back to haunt us–what would have happened if President Bush and a Republican Congress had pursued a similar tactic? Writer and longtime Nation contributor Thomas Geoghegan
We have to win the fight for health care reform with as robust a public option as we can by deploying our Democratic majority. Afterwards, we need to put an end to the filibuster follies once and for all.