Don’t look now, but it seems Harry Reid has his 60 votes. I wouldn’t be stunned if Joe Lieberman defected again when the bill comes back from conference, but right now the bill is set to pass on Christmas Eve. The Republicans will vote in lock-step against even letting the bill come up for a vote, and in the meantime will continue their temper tantrum, using every procedural trick to further delay the vote.
To my eyes, a national non-profit plan negotiated with the Office of Personnel Management looks just as good as a public option. The abortion deal is a kludge, but apparently not a terrible kludge.
I think Obama was right to find out whether the Republicans wanted to act as an opposition; as it turned out, they want to act as an obstruction instead. There’s no need now to repeat the experiment.
Megan McArdle is right that this is the first time such a major bill has passed on a strict party-line vote. (Glenn Reynolds is wrong to expect – or is it hope? – that the result will be extra-legal resistance.) That sets up the 2010 and 2012 elections as referenda on health care. I expect that Ralph Nader will continue to help the reactionaries, as he always does; I hope that Howard Dean will think better of it.
And now that we’ve had experience with what it means to give Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman veto power, it’s time to start talking seriously about taking down Senate Rule XXII, which allows the filibuster. A determined opposition should be allowed to delay, but in the end a determined majority should be able to work its will. Since the Rule XXII requires sixty-seven votes to change Rule XXII, the only way to fix the problem is for the Vice-President to rule, at the beginning of a Congress, that the Senate is not a “continuing body,” and that in each Congress the Senate, like the House, must pass its rules afresh.