Obamacare

Will Health Care Reform Go Down in Massachusetts?

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Who would have ever predicted that health care reform would finish with an honest-to-goodness threat from a Republican in a Massachusetts special election over a Kennedy seat? A year ago—hell, two months ago—no screenwriter, novelist, or pundit would have possibly have predicted that the GOP had a shot to win a Senate seat in Massachusetts. But as of just a few hours ago, Republican candidate Scott Brown became the near-universal favorite, with whip-smart liberal pollster Nate Silver, whose voting model correctly predicted every Senate race in 2008, positing that Brown had a 3:1 chance of winning against Democrat Martha Coakley.

A Brown win would mean that Democrats would lack the 60 votes necessary to pass a revised health care reform bill in the Senate. That's sent party leadership into full-on panic, with administration officials scrambling to ready a backup plan. Right now, that means asking the House to simply vote up or down on the Senate bill with no changes. In theory, the bill could be altered in reconciliation afterward. But getting buy-in from House members is going to be exceedingly difficult. On one hand, progressives won't like swallowing the unchanged Senate bill; reconciliation offers only limited opportunities for post-vote modification. And moderate Democrats, led by Bart Stupak, will have a tough time voting for the Senate's weaker abortion language.

The bigger hurdle for Democrats, however, will be the anxiety and political upheaval caused by the election. If Brown wins, it will be in large part because of high turnout from independents who oppose the health care reform bill. That's going to make going forward with reform, already a big gamble, even riskier. As The Business Insider's Joe Wiesenthal notes, if Pelosi manages to pull together enough votes after the Democratic chaos that's sure to ensue following a Brown win, it will be pretty remarkable.

Naturally, all of this hinges on Brown winning tomorrow, an outcome that's by no means certain. The poll results paint a pretty clear trend, but it's still fairly close, and, as Silver notes, it's possible that voter turnout—which is especially hard to predict in special elections—won't resemble pollster models. Still, it would provide some awfully good closure and narrative symmetry if this attempt at health care reform, which arguably began with the passage of RomneyCare, went down in the same state where it started.  

Update: The Hill floats another option—rush the bill through before Brown is seated:

Congressional Democrats are considering passing healthcare reform before the winner of the Massachusetts special election is seated in the upper chamber, Democratic sources say.

…"That would be an option," said a senior Democratic aide, who downplayed an alternative scenario wherein the House would pass the Senate-approved healthcare bill without changes.

If Coakley wins, Democrats will retain their 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Leaders will make a final decision when results of the election are known, but sources close to the Democratic leadership in both chambers say a speedy vote is the best option.

The plan could backfire if a single Democratic senator, such as Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) or Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), objected on grounds that it would violate the will of voters in Massachusetts.

Rushing the final bill through the Senate before Brown could take a seat would be difficult.

The president and Democratic leaders must reach an agreement, receive a cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and give lawmakers and the public 72 hours to review the final language. Finally, they must pass the bill through the House and wade through the final Republican procedural objections in the Senate before clearing the bill to President Barack Obama.

On Friday, Reason Senior Editor Michael Moynihan noted the incredible incompetence of Martha Coakley's campaign. And over the weekend, he talked with pro-Scott Brown protestors outside President Obama's Coakley-support speech at Northeastern University:

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  1. Fingers crossed for a Brown victory.

    1. Shit in your soup much?

      1. That was for Freddie. Senility sucks.

    2. It may only be a one inch gain, but in this day of the Rouseau-Marx Democrats being in charge, an inch our way is better than a foot their way. claysamerica.com

  2. Yes, closure and symmetry, and despair for the millions of Americans desperately suffering because they lack health insurance. But hey– this blog has made a habit of never acknowledging their suffering. Why start now?

    1. Why start now?

      The dems’ version of healthcare sucks ass. That’s why.

      1. Try to imagine a “reform” after “healthcare.”

    2. despair for the millions of Americans desperately suffering because they lack health insurance

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      Hyperbole much?

      1. What part of that statement is hyperbole? A significant chunk of those without insurance are the very ill, who can’t buy insurance.

        1. I didn’t give you permission to address me, Choad.

          1. It’s nice to see that the children are still well represented on this website.

            1. It’s nice to see that over-serious douchebags are also still well represented on this website.

            2. Actually, no it isn’t. But luckily the nested comments naturally produce a kiddie table for them to play at while the grown-ups are talking.

          2. And I didn’t give you permission to dodge my question, which you likely don’t have an answer to.

            Thanks for conceding my point.

            1. I support Chad Reform.

            2. The hyperbole was the suggestion that the mere lack of health insurance is a cause of suffering and the related assumption that heath insurance will make suffering go away.

        2. cheaper ways to do that.

          Also the bill that passed the senate as well as the bill that passed the house would make medical care more expensive in the long run not less.

          From what i heard of the Republican bill it would.

          So yeah your bullshit that we should support a shitty bill to help poor people is bullshit.

    3. Yes, yes. Because we oppose a massive government take over of health insurance under the guise of “reform”, libertarians don’t care about anyone.

      Question: Why doesn’t the “reform” bill include tort reform or the ability to buy insurance across state lines? Answer: Loss of government control.

      1. bleek obummer,question: Why doesn’t the “reform” bill include tort reform or the ability to buy insurance across state lines?

        Answer: Loss of control by the insurance companies. Do you really think the government is in charge?

        1. @put up or shut up

          Who makes laws – either on their own or with lobbying of insurance companies? Either way, the “reform” bill does nothing to change the playing field regarding tort reform or sale of insurance across state lines.

          As for the control that insurance companies currently have, where is it written that they have the right to force you to buy insurance? The “reform” plan will force you to buy insurance. You know – force – with the power of jail time behind it.

          Your attempt to blame insurance companies and not government doesn’t answer the basic issue. Taking control from the individual and putting it in the hands of government solves nothing if it doesn’t address basic flaws in the current system (lack of price transparency, tort, sale across state lines, existing mandates in coverage, etc).

          1. bleek obummer, I’m not against tort reform, price transparency, sales across state lines, and any other plan that truly would help the consumer but we disagree on who is in control. You are blaming the government (both the R & D have had a chance to make changes) and I blame greed. Do you know why we can’t compassion shop using medical codes? Do you know the amount of cash pharma & insurance have donated? Do you know that Texas has tort reform and it has made no difference? All games aside, I truly believe we need healthcare to change and I don’t see how that can happen with the present system.

    4. I see you believe in fairy tales.

      1. My last post was directed at Freddie.

    5. Many of the world’s people suffer from economic hardships; therefore, libertarians don’t know what they’re talking about.

      Wow, Freddie, your logic is irrefutable.

    6. Right. Because people need to be forced to buy overpriced health insurance to alleviate the suffering they didn’t know they were experiencing.

    7. There are more logical holes in this post than I’ve got time to document.
      Suffice to say Freddie may well have set records for faulty argument.

  3. Let’s not celebrate this awesome development yet. Dems still have plenty of time to rig this election.

    Either way, though, this does seem a referendum on Obamacare. As in it was pulled directly from the album: The Classics of Suck.

    1. The Ds don’t even have to win the election. They just need to stall long enough to ram something through conference committee, either by waiting the maximum 15 days to certify the vote or, if that’s not long enough, tying it up with lawsuits like the Rs did with Franken in MN.

      That’s assuming Brown wins, and none of the Senate Ds panics and bolts for the exits.

      This could come down to the wire.

  4. New Entry for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    Coakley (K?k-lee)

    noun
    1. A train wreck involving toxic materials or other seriously aggravating factors
    2. A`massive debacle
    “EPA officials intend to investigate a coakley outside Jefferson City this morning on the Kansas City Southern line.”

    verb
    3. To have a coakley
    “In the film ‘The Fugitive’ Dr. Richard Kimball escapes execution when the bus taking him to prison coakleys with a train on a river bank.”

    historical
    4. (Martha b. 1953) A Massachusetts politician of the early 21st Century

    1. This is clever & gave me a good chuckle.

      But to perfect it, you need to change the verb form. “Coakley” is still a noun in “to have a coakley.” The verb form should be “to coakley,” as in “Candidate X coakleyed yesterday when he listed Vijay Singh as ‘a great role model for African Americans.'”

      1. Oops. Never mind. Read it too hastily. Stet.

    2. Oh, please. a “coakley” as a noun or a verb is synonymous with a massive dump:

      “You might wanna give the bathroom a few minutes to air out. I just dropped a massive coakley in there.”

  5. Will Health Care Reform Go Down in Massachusetts?

    Just like the chunky girl in the flag corps. Or Andrew Sullivan. Depends on what you are into.

    1. Really, I’m shocked it took this long to get there.

  6. I call on all Mass. Reasonoids to vote for Scott Brown tomorrow. I’m voting for him, too.

    My root to “Reason” magazine go back longer than any of yours do.

    The founder of “Reason” magazine, Lanny Friedlander, used to come over my mother’s house.

    Mass. Reasonoids! Go out and vote.

    “There’s no need to fear. Let’s elect Scott Brown tomorrow!”

    Check out my latest youtube on global warming, too!

    1. “…used to come over to my mother’s house.”

      You know…
      Ah, never mind. That’s just too easy.

      Just like …
      Ah, never mind.

      1. I was was going there but then felt charitable.

    2. Load to your muther

  7. Btw… outgoing Gov. Corzine legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

    Hopefully, this will bring relief for the vomiting episodes suffered by chemo patients.

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.!

    1. way to go Underzog, more props.

  8. Forget the attack ads.

    If Barry Goldwater was laid low by the vast wasteland blossoming into a little girl in a daisy field, Ms Coakley may go down because of Jack Bauer’s prime-time ressurection on election eve.

    The whole redneck underbelly of this very blue state is stoked on Colonel Brown.

  9. Let us not forget that our healthcare system is already socialist.

    Is Scott Brown going to change that? Has he said a thing about getting government out of our healthcare? To the contrary, a portion of his campaign strategy has been to turn the tables on the Dems and point to Coakley’s support for Obamacare’s Medicare reductions. IOW, he is pandering to the “seniors” and promising that he will not support a reduction in the massive transfer of wealth which flows to them.

    There are many here who argue that a vote for Brown represents a reasoned, practical decision in that (1) the libertarian candidate has no chance of winning; (2) there will be a net gain for liberty and (3) even if there is not a net gain for liberty, at least there will be gridlock and less liberty lost.

    The aforesaid argument is, at bottom, rank speculation other than the libertarian candidate having no chance. Points 2 and three are not facts-they are opinions.

    If history is any indicator, there is almost no empirical evidence to support the proposition that a vote for one major party candidate instead of the libertarian candidate results in a net gain for liberty. Is there any evidence to support that there will be a net gain for liberty if Brown is elected given his steadfast support of the income taz, the IRS, his refusal to call for an elimination of the income tax and his refusal to call for the abolition of the IRS?

    How about Brown’s support for the national security state? I did not hear one word from him regarding the spectacular misallocation of resources devoted to the national security state? I did not hear one word from him in supporting an end to the administrative state. Didn’t hear anything about privacy protections.

    YOu know what, not one word about eliminating PROSECUTORIAL IMMUNITY for those whose civil rights are messed with by district attorneys and assistant district attorneys. Sound familiar?

    Its not like this guy is even using Reagan rhetoric. IHe is not talking about government being too big, too intrusive and evil. It would be hard given that he has spent almost his whole life in the public sector.

    To be fair, I do loathe Coakley. What an absolute humorless hoe of hubris. I will not fib and deny that, between the two, I favor Brown; but that preference is more visceral, personality driven and not borne of my committment to liberty.

    1. LM,
      This is a protest vote that sends a big FU to the O and the dems.

      The fact that “slightly worse” senator will be sent to dc is secondary.

      1. Lest we forget. We have Obama and the Dems because of the last big FU vote. Which was, I must add, advocated by more than one of the contributors to this website.

        1. Your right BB and the folks who did that found out that protest votes have consequences.

          In this case I believe that the folks who get to protest and vote Brown into the senate will also get a marginally better senator.

          1. Protest votes may have consequences but I feel I will never vote for a (D) or (R) ever again. It’s quite liberating to vote your conscience and not your cynicism.

          2. I doubt that is was the reason contributors votes that put Obama over the top.

        2. Maybe it’s time to check out another website, this website seems to enjoy dabbling in the lesser of two evils, protest votes, or let’s talk up certain Republicans because…..

          Maybe beltway libertarians are really republicans.

        3. The last FU vote gave the Dems 59 votes. Back room deals with Spectraitor gave them 60.

          Keep this in mind the next time an Obamatron claims that the people wanted the Dems to have a filiburster proof majority.

    2. Is there any evidence to support that there will be a net gain for liberty if Brown is elected given his steadfast support of the income taz, the IRS, his refusal to call for an elimination of the income tax and his refusal to call for the abolition of the IRS?

      Because the only important measure of libertarianness is your stance on the income tax. Repeatedly.

      1. Or the gold standard.

      2. Is there any evidence to support that there will be a net gain for liberty if Brown is elected given his steadfast support of the income taz, the IRS, his refusal to call for an elimination of the income tax and his refusal to call for the abolition of the IRS?

        LOL

        Would Libertarians really have that much of a problem with it if it was under say %5?

      3. Hazel-

        Do you think that your assertion that, for me, the only measure of liberty is whether there is an income tax, is suuported by the facts?

        Or that the existence or not of an income tax dwarfs all other issues of liberty?

        Me thinks that your assertion is without factual support given (a) THE CONTENT OF MY POST and (b) THE CONTENT OF THE ENTIRERTY OF MY POSTS.

        Do you suffer from a reading comprehension disability?

    3. I don’t trust Brown. Coakley is totally despicable, but that does not justify a party hack like Brown. Unfortunately, people only know the two parties.

      1. Given the Libertarian Party’s lack of ability to influence most any election, often enough we’re simply stuck with the better of two statists.
        No, I didn’t vote for Obama; Barr got my vote but Brown would get it in MA.
        I’d like my nose firmly attached to my face…

        1. Why do you think you should have much influence, when you preach a vapid religion that clashes with reality? No one but you guys believes the market is godly.

          1. The only group who puts faith in the market is the group who puts faith in the market.

          2. Hahahahahahahaha…Choad, you’re killing me, brutha….

          3. Actually, Chad, nobody believes the market is God – YOU believe there are people that believe this.

            What libertarians believe is that freedom is paramount – this principle may be alien to you, somebody who believes in State worshiping.

            1. What libertarians believe is that freedom is paramount

              Actually this libertarian believes results are paramount…we just happen to live in universe and have a specific nature that produce the best results when people are free.

              If it didn’t we would would be antpeople and the atomic weight of carbon would be 15….in which case freedom would not matter.

              Not all of us are Randians

              1. “results”?

                LOL! This has to be the funniest thing I have read today (ok, it is 6:30am). Libertarians don’t even bother to acknowledge the numerous countries that are doing just fine, or arguably better, while having less libertarian policies. China is making fools of us, despite being highly anti-libertarian. Western Europeans are as productive as us and have far higher levels equality and social mobility, using far less resources…yet eschew libertarian policies in general (though they are every bit as “free” as we are).

                Libertarians are wedded to a childish logic that defines freedom in a hyper-narrow manner, and then pursues this definition off the cliff. No wonder you are ignored.

            2. OM, as long as your definition of “freedom” logically leads to the conclusion that a lone man starving on a desert island is more “free” than a multi-billionaire Wall Street banker, your definition is worthless. Freedom is not simply the abscence of restriction by law. That is the critical error in your thinking.

              1. So your definition of freedom is freedom from want, pain, need, etc ? and the government basically should provide that freedom.

                Right?

              2. Re: Chad,

                OM, as long as your definition of “freedom” logically leads to the conclusion that a lone man starving on a desert island is more “free” than a multi-billionaire Wall Street banker,

                But that’s the problem for you, Chad – it does NOT logically lead to that conclusion. A person starving in the desert is JUST AS FREE as a banker in Wall Street. The difference is that they have different WANTS AND NEEDS, but having wants and needs does not preclude being free.

                Freedom is not simply the abscence of restriction by law.

                Of course it is not that. Freedom means the ability to act without undue restrictions – does not matter where they come from, if from legislated regulations or from some asshole busybody . . . you know, like a socialist.

    4. There are more registered independents in Massachusetts than either registered Democrats or Republicans. Why isn’t the independent candidate considered viable? He’s even named Kennedy.

      Brown voted for Romney-care, and has suspect limited government credentials at best. Kennedy would be a much stronger force for liberty in the Senate. He’s even been endorsed by the actual Boston Tea Party.

  10. Tony said: No one deserves to be better off than others. The purpose of a progressive state is to drive people towards equity and fairness.

    And there is only one way toeards that: DOWNWARDS.

    1. OM,
      Can’t see where tony said that but hard to believe that anyone could subscribe to the notion of unequal in-puts and equal results – united states of haiti?

      1. Schempf,

        It’s from another post. I placed it here because it puts Progressive thought in a nutshell perfectly, even if Tony did it unwittingly.

    2. To be fair, that quote was from someone pretending to be Tony. But it’s probably what he would be saying anyway.

      1. and you wouldn’t know anything about that.

        1. Nope. Wasn’t me.

          1. Heller, I know you would never be so silly as to post under another name.

  11. Where’s the Obamatarians with the battered-wife analogies? C’mon Team Losertarian punish those Republicans one more time.

    1. I blacked out after you used -tarian twice.

      1. I blame the Rotarians for getting that ball rolling, or maybe the Turks.

  12. Breaking News (Reuters): Massachusetts Election Upset Leads Teddy Kennedy to Fall of Wagon, Breaking 19 Weeks of Sobriety

    1. Drinking while deceased, new meaning to D.U.I. – Deceased and Under the Influence.

  13. Coakley is one of the worst possible democrats that could be running for the Senate in MA. I’m not sure if I’ll end up voting for Kennedy or Brown (probably the former), but I think Brown is more appealing than Coakley, if only barely.

    1. Coakley is symptomatic of a disturbing trend I’ve noticed here in NC, a faceless Stasi of cold professional women gaining status and rank in the political system. I suppose except for the gender part, Obama fits that description as well.

      I don’t know enough about Brown to say how bad or good he would be in comparison, but I do remember reading Dorothy Rabinowitz’s reports on the Coakley convictions. May Coakley’s stilettos trip through the eye sockets of the skulls she climbed to power on.

      1. alan,”a disturbing trend I’ve noticed here in NC, a faceless Stasi of cold professional women gaining status and rank in the political system.” WTF, are people thinking? Women belong in the kitchen.

      2. …as opposed to the warm and tender-hearted men who usually rise to the highest levels of power, I suppose?

        I’m no feminist, but there’s definitely some truth to the complaint that female politicians are judged against a much more demanding standard.

        1. tulpa, we had a meeting of the Faceless Stasi Cold Professional Political Women club and we have decide to let you live when we take over the world.

  14. Nate Silver is picking Coakley.

    “Overall, while I would probably take Coakley’s side of a 3:1 wager, her situation looks to be increasingly difficult.”

    Last paragraph before the Addendum, first sentence. =)

    1. He’s picking her given 3 to 1 odds though, no? He’s not picking her outright is he?

      1. Sure sounds like he’s picking ATS – which seems kinda pointless in a winner-takes-all two candidate election.

  15. The only thing worse than having a two-party system, is having a one issue election. Exactly how did these two end up on the ticket?

    Do they have primary elections in Mass. for Senate, or were they chosen by the state’s R and D committees, respectively?

    1. Perhaps you should have tossed your hat into the ring to make it more interesting?

  16. I guess this is all part of the show for a blog that thinks the TeaParty Nation is nonrepublican.

    1. Getting lonely these days in the land of donkeys?

      1. More like dumb asses.

  17. The president and Democratic leaders must reach an agreement, receive a cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and give lawmakers and the public 72 hours to review the final language.

    Is that a “must” as in “is required by law” or a “must” as in “Obama’s campaign promises”. Because we know the latter is worth less than the dollar bills I wiped my ass with this morning.

    1. Looks like we’ll have 72 hours to strangle this one in the crib, eh? That’s not a lot of time to kill a Godzilla-sized toddler.

      1. This is one case where I hope to increase the US infant mortality rate.

    2. The former ain’t all it used to be, either.

  18. One would hope that the Democrats would realize that such a cynical move (push the bill through before allowing a new (R) to be seated) would be perceived as a haughty “Fuck You” to anyone with the slightest question about health care legislation. One would hope further that they would recognize this as a politically suicidal ploy.

    1. I thought they were all off humming “Suicide is Painless” and laughing at Alan Alda jokes on the way down.

      1. Great movie.Alan Alda would have fucked it up.

  19. I also am continually confused by the fact that people are surprised by the fact that MA would display animus against a universal health care plan. The people of MA know firsthand what a clusterfuck such a plan can become due to their experience with RomneyCare.

    1. You’d think so, yes. If they ram ObamaCare through, there won’t be another state to bail out to.

  20. Eventually, even the Obama administration will figure out just how unpopular their health care reform plan is.

    1. Do you really think it will make any difference at all? He has to know already and it’s not slowing him down.

    2. Nah…I don’t think he has the mental dexterity Bill Clinton has.

      I think this will destroy him.

      1. We can only hope for such a change.

    3. I would note that most of what people will find unpopular about ObamaCare happens either at the tail-end of a possible second term or after he would be out of office if he got a second term. This is pretty par of the course for genesis of new government programs.

  21. True Story: I met a couple who moved from MA to PA. Both well-to-do professionals, I asked them why they were down here. “We got universal care and we got out of there”.

    1. My favorite Mass. health insurance tale

  22. Don’t exaggerate the health care vote, the truth is Coakley is just awful. Just for her role in prosecuting the Amiraults she should be barred from public office for life. I think Pagliuca or Capuano would have wiped the floor with Brown – it just shows how corrupt and dysfunctional the Democratic Party is.

    ComradeZero – that story sounds like bullshit – healthcare reform in MA is still pretty popular even with the well-to-do, which is why Scott Brown is on record as SUPPORTING it.

  23. To clarify – I mean the Mass. program is popular, not Obama’s.

    1. Since ObamaCare is pretty much federalized MassCare, what’s the thinking behind loving MassCare and hating ObamaCare?

      1. Scott Brown’s argument is that Mass already has MassCare, we don’t need ObamaCare.

  24. Re: Chad,

    OM, as long as your definition of “freedom” logically leads to the conclusion that a lone man starving on a desert island is more “free” than a multi-billionaire Wall Street banker,

    But that’s the problem for you, Chad – it does NOT logically lead to that conclusion. A person starving in the desert is JUST AS FREE as a banker in Wall Street. The difference is that they have different WANTS AND NEEDS, but having wants and needs does not preclude being free.

    Freedom is not simply the abscence of restriction by law.

    Of course it is not that. Freedom means the ability to act without undue restrictions – does not matter where they come from, if from legislated regulations or from some asshole busybody . . . you know, like a socialist.

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