In Wake of Brown Victory, Democrats Back Off Push For Health Care Reform


The usual suspects are arguing that, despite losing today's Massachusetts special election—and thus their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate—Congressional Democrats should press forward with health care reform, presumably by convincing House members to vote for the Senate bill as is. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has signaled her desire to go forward with the bill. But numerous Democratic legislators are already expressing wariness at the idea.

The biggest surprise comes from New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, up until now a stalwart reform supporter. According to Politico, Weiner gave the following cautious statement: "The only way to go forward is to take a step back. If there isn't any recognition that we got the message and we are trying to recalibrate and do things differently, we are not only going to risk looking ignorant but arrogant."

Politico also quotes Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth as saying "I cannot imagine, from one person, one member from Indiana, that this House would accept the Senate bill as is."

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News reports New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney saying that "If [Coakley] loses, it's over."

And according to TPM, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb released the following strong statement:

"In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated."

Given that the House initially passed health care reform with only two votes to spare, this suggests that, regardless of their stated determination to move forward with the bill, Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership may have no choice but to throw in the towel.

Update: IBD's David Hogberg has more. As does Real Clear Politics' Tom Bevan, who writes that MSNBC political correspondent Norah O'Donnell "reports that just about every Democratic House member she's talked to says they do not have the appetite to pass the Senate bill as is."

Update 2: And here's Barney Frank: "Our respect for Democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened." Philip Klein thinks this may be ObamaCare's deathblow.

NEXT: An Old Post: Polls Closed, Republicans Confident, Doug Flutie Playing Drums

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I can’t wait to see Obama’s SOTUS in a couple of weeks. It was supposed to be his grand night celebrating healthcare and explaining how Hopey was going to pivot and talk about jobs. Not so much.

    1. Maybe he’ll renege on his promise not to pre-empt the season premiere of “Lost” with the SOTUS just to pay those ungrateful, socialized medicine-hating Massachusetts voters back. 🙂

      1. Are you saying our president is a reneger? RACIST!!!

        1. For The Win!

          1. “No, Dagnabbit, I said the sheriff is a [DING!]”

            1. Dr. Samuel Johnson: Olson Johnson is right. What kind of people are we anyhow? I say we stay and fight it out!
              Gabby Johnson: [indistinct]
              Howard Johnson: Dr. Samuel Johnson’s right about Olson Johnson being right. And I’m not giving up my ice cream parlor, that I built with these two hands, for nothing or nobody.
              Sam Johnson: Howard Johnson is right!
              Van Johnson: Right!
              Howard Johnson: Thank you, Van.

    2. Obama = pivot man? Racist AND homophobic! Sweet.

  2. There’s a lot I don’t agree with Jim Webb on, but if he actually released that statement that’s a principled stand that should be commended.

    As for the race itself, I can’t help but wonder if Democratic candidates are going to avoid like the plague having Obama stump for their campaigns. The man’s starting to look like electoral poison for anything he touches.

    1. He didn’t help the Governor of New Jersey and the Senate Candidate in Massachusetts. Where can he help? Chicago?

      1. Nope…he failed them too by not scoring them the Olympics. 🙂

    2. Go Jim Webb. He’s got some real principle.

      1. Nah, that was the plan.

        1) Get an extra R so the R’s can sink healthcare reform bill.
        2) Voters can blame nonexistent, hypothetically awesome reform on Rs, instead of blaming actual, disastrous POS reform on Ds.
        3) You get to keep your phoney baloney job.

    3. One of the viewer emails on the local Boston news this morning: “Can Obama endorse the Yankees?”

  3. In Wake of Brown Victory, Democrats Back Off Push For Health Care Reform

    The Big O: “So, Rohm, what’s plan B?”

    The Ballerina: “Uh, put the brakes on HCR?”

    The Big O: “Uh? What kind of plan is that? You have to think of something else! Now, tip toe your ass back to your office and think of something!”

  4. A RINO won. yay.

    1. <waves limp pennant>

    2. Sweet, sweet gridlock.

      1. The gridlockier, the better…

  5. There must have been some Mass. Reasonoids who voted for him.

    Great work!

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

    1. Don’t you have a Gefilte fish jar to raid, underschmuck?

      1. Racis… Antisemitic!

        1. Damn…Underzog wasn’t doing his usual schlock and you still took a shot at him.

          1. Damn, did I say “schlock”? I meant “schtick”.

          2. Underputz brings out the Nazi prison guard in me, what can I say.

            1. What can you say, R?hmite?

              t?tten alle Juden?
              ich\’m ein homosexualle nazi?

              I can picture you saying that.

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

            2. At least you admit it’s there….

    2. I’ve lived in this state for 25 years and this was first time I’ve felt like I actually got to vote. There was a real sense of excitement at the polling place in my little (usually R-voting)town.

  6. Maybe Obama can help the New Orleans Saints since his “magic” worked for Corzine, Deeds and Coakely. If he can produce the same result for Brees and Co. as he did for the former three, then my wife who is a die hard Vikings fan will be very happy.

    1. Fuck the Vikings.

      Go Saints!

      1. What Zoltan said. I don’t even care so much if they win, I just want to see them play. I never thought I”d see the Astros in the World Series or the Saints in the Super Bowl.

        And I was very, very, very disappointed last night that Keith Olbermann’s head did not explode.

  7. They’ll pick a few chunks out of the bill to give Webb & Co. electoral cover, pass it, then stick that shit back in the “jobs” heap Obama’s been threatening to unload on us. Everything is “jobs.”

  8. I hope that someone more tech savvy than me makes a compilation of Maddow, Matthews, and Olberman losing their shit tonight and posts it on YouTube? I want to enjoy this moment for days to come.

    1. Matthews just said he’s never seen another election where the winner’s campaign was based on saying “no” to something as Brown’s was based on opposing health care.

      He must have forgotten all the anti-war campaigns back in ’06.

  9. As does Real Clear Politics’ Tom Bevan, who writes that MSNBC political correspondent Norah O’Donnell “reports that just about every Democratic House member she’s talked to says they do not have the appetite to pass the Senate bill as is.”

    Yeah, it was a shit-in-pants moment there . . .

    1. “Ding, dong, the bill is dead…the wicked bill is dead…”

      Flee, cowardly socialist Dems…flee from the wrath of a voting public that loves their money. 🙂

    2. Is it now time the to play the “Brown Note”?

  10. Wow. We might live to see another day yet, economically.

    I for one and ready to vote for Obama in the next presidential election, and anything but Democrat across the board for congress.

  11. “The only way to go forward is to take a step back. If there isn’t any recognition that we got the message and we are trying to recalibrate and do things differently, we are not only going to risk looking ignorant but arrogant.”

    I think that ship has already sailed and sunk.

  12. Dems have it made. The just have to sit back for 10 years, watch rates skyrocket 79% (the industry’s own number!), and watch voters come begging when everyone and their brother loses their employer-based coverage.

    No, your boss is not going to pay $20k a year for your medical benefits.

    1. If you were a real person, Choad, I’d say that you’re in denial, but I don’t think sockpuppets experience psychological trauma.

      1. Hey, look, Chad crawled out of his Zima bottle long enough to post more of his dangerous nonsense. Let’s pretend to care!

    2. Chad, if people were forced to buy this there is no incentive to reduce price. QED

      1. Or do you think that someone with a gun to your head (or just someone who can use force against you and you are forbidden by law to defend yourself – which amounts to the same thing) is going to be sporting enough to make things easy on you?

        1. But that’s the only way to force people to do what they don’t want to do! Chad said so!

      2. How can an insurance company “cut costs”?

        1: They can quit covering things.

        2: They can jack their out of pocket charges.

        3: They can find ever more inventive ways of dropping sick people.

        Which do you prefer?

        1. That applies to your government run health care as well.

          1. Note how Chad sidestepped that little fact…

          2. Chad should check out the BBC articles on the British NHS. All three alternatives appear there regularly.
            They just announced on BBC yesterday that England was ahead of Scotland in health care because now, no person will have to wait more than six months for a needed operation in England while the wait is much longer in Scotland.

        2. They can negotiate lower prices with the hospitals.


    3. Yeah, keep thinking that way. That’s the same bullshit rope-a-dope stuff that kept people believing in Bush for 8 years.

      And somehow, and this might just be me, but just somehow, I doubt a bill backed by the health industry was going to cut prices. At the end of the day. Nagging suspicion. But then, I don’t believe in the magic price drop that won’t negatively impact anything else.

    4. Your boss shouldn’t be paying your health care, anyway. That’s YOUR duty.

      1. Comrade Chad wants you to pay for it, even if you can’t afford it.

        Oh, and you’ll need to make an extra tend grand a year to earn your keep. Otherwise, you’re just leeching off the same welfare system Chad loves, oddly enough…

        1. My boss can’t afford his OWN health insurance, let alone pay for mine – which I wouldn’t take anyway, but that’s beside the point…

    5. Chad, do you really think any of these libertarians actually have insurance? No they have a master plan: never get sick

      1. I have a do-not-resuscitate order and a will, Finish Line. At least I won’t be a burden to the pocketbooks of total strangers when I die… which I would be with universal health care.

        I’m that principled. Are you?

    6. And you think employers would provide medical coverage, when the government is doing so as well?

      1. And you think employers will continue to provide medical coverage, when insurance companies are constantly raising rates ?

        1. Please, let them stop. If we all bought our own insurance we mgiht actualyl pay some attention to how much we are spending.

          1. Yes, and the adverse selection issue would completely destroy the market, and every sick person would be screwed.

            You do realize that our employee-based group system is what keeps this from happening, don’t you?

            Oh wait. You are a free market worshiper and just assume that it would somehow solve the problem because, well…that’s just the way it is! Everyone will just run a hedge fund that speculates on their future health, and set up wildly complex financial dealings to cover and hedge all the possibilities. Wasn’t that your plan?

            1. Yes, and the adverse selection issue would completely destroy the market, and every sick person would be screwed.

              Right, Chad. Just the way every person who has a car accident is alerady screwed, because our auto insurance market isn’t run by the gummint, and everyone whose house burns down is like totally screwed these days, because our homeowner’s insurance isn’t issued by Uncle Sam, and the same way no one’s kids ever really collects on life insurance — and who can afford it anyway? — because New York Life hasn’t been replaced by the US Treasury.

              Here’s a thought! Since you are fully convinced you can’t figure out how to cover your life’s expenses on your own, or in cooperation with other people, and you really need Authority to make your really important decisions — why don’t you give your vote to me? You don’t really seem up to taking charge of important decisions for yourself. I’ll vote for you, and I’ll take your income, and in return I’ll give you an allowance and pay for your medical care.

              Just like when you were 10. Er…assuming you aren’t, still. Which isn’t totally obvious, come to think of it.

              1. Carl, only a 10 year old is silly enough to compare the complexities of caring for a human body to an automobile, building or a cash value policy.

              2. Chad is one of those self-admitted one-worlders. He is beyond redemption.

            2. Chad, adverse selection doesn’t happen without community rating.

              In a free market, if someone is high risk, they just pay more for insurance.

              Unless by “adverse selection” you mean “we don’t take people who already have cancer”. Oh those evil greedy insurance companies!

    7. No. Now maybe we can address real reform. You know, reform that will actually solve the issues at hand. Like, state-to-state competition and decoupling insurance from employment.

      Or… those who really, really, want government-offered health care can move to Massachusetts. Just don’t move back when taxes are hiked 75% or the system goes bankrupt… as its headed for in the next 5 or so years.

      Come to think of it though … that kind of care hasn’t really taken off at the state level since Mass instituted it, huh? Wonder why such a great and obviously beneficial program hasn’t set the world on fire?

  13. At least Palin & Co. didn’t fuck this one up.

    1. To say that she’s even remotely capable of fucking something up represents a gigantic mistaken presumption.

      Why else do you think she got a job on a talk show? She doesn’t have the sheep skin (or the wits) to teach and she’s too old to win any more beauty pageants.

      1. I did say “& Co” didn’t I? You’re right though. How about “Far right purists”?

        1. Well, okay. I came off kind of harsh there, but it actually wasn’t aimed at you.

          Was just expressing my opinion of one Sarah Palin.

    2. Palin’s “death panels” rhetoric is the reason the bill took so long to pass. Without her, it would have been passed by Labor Day 2009.

  14. “The usual suspects are arguing that…Congressional Democrats should press forward with health care reform”.

    Every time I read that I picture the last scene of “Gallipoli”.

  15. i’ve said it before, i’ll say it again: ted kennedy’s death has been the only positive political development in the past several years.

    1. I beg to differ. The Ron Paul campaign was an enormous positive; thousands of people now know how the fed is robbing us, and Bernanke’s on the defensive, trying to avoid an audit.


  16. All the MSNBC nitwits are in agreement, that the solution is to force ObamaCare down our throats, through any means necessary, or possible.

    1. They don’t have to run for re-election.

      1. No, but they do have to maintain an audience of hundreds of loyal viewers.

  17. Uh-oh…my Facebook friend count just dropped after my celebratory status update. Someone’s got a thin skin.

    1. Think of it as darwinism.

    2. Yeah, mine too…and my gloating was pretty reserved. Which is fairly hypocritical if it’s one of the liberal friends I didn’t de-friend when they constantly whined in posts about how “health care must be done now or all the poor people will die”. If they can’t take opposing viewpoints occasionally winning out, good riddance as far as I’m concerned.

  18. Does this mean we don’t get any death panels? There’s no estate tax in 2010, so we really need them now!

    1. Who could have known that the actual death panel was Massachusetts?
      Sweet, sweet irony.

  19. If there isn’t any recognition that we got the message and we are trying to recalibrate and do things differently, we are not only going to risk looking ignorant but arrogant.”

    God this guy is a fucking slimy shitball. He isn’t worried about being ignorant or arrogant, he’s worried about his fucking image so he can get reelected. Those stupid citizens need a show because they are too stupid understand what isn’t ignorant and arrogant. He’s like Bawny Frank Jr. or Douchebag jr.

  20. While I am glad that the giant douche beat the turd sandwich, it wasn’t until I saw how visibly livid the MSNBC 3 were and heard them talk about ramming their agenda down our throats no matter the cost, that I got kind of excited.

  21. “Health care, dead! Stimulus 2, dead! Cap n’ Trade, dead!”

  22. Thank You Teddy Kennedy for hanging on as long as you did.(private healthcare) The timing couldn’t have been better. It gave Obama enough time to screw up the country more then his predecessor and leave more than sour taste in their mouths. There is a gnashing of teeth in the White House. So much for Obama stumping for Cloakley. Same class warfare rhetoric Every time Obama speaks He weekens the Nation.
    Government run Health care is dead as it should be.

  23. Mass isnt going republican so dont kid yourselves.Dems could have run Jesus and repugs could have run a janitor with aspergers missing a chromosome and he would have won.

    We liberals in Mass have sent a message to the corporate Dems.NO ROMNEYCARE…..we already have that private insurance boondoggle.WE wanted single payer….then a strong public option.To watch a dem majority cave to corporate interests and bend over for republicans was too much.Enough is enough.Listen to the people or get out of the way.

  24. ‘We the People’ have spoken…..
    The voters in Massachusetts sent a message loud and clear.

    To the politicians….
    It isn’t IF you are a Democrat or a Republican….
    The politicians need to represent the voters… not the lobbyists and big business.
    This IS a ‘wake-up’ call for politicians…….. for the people you have ignored are fighting back.

    If the politicians think that this is a coincidence… wait till the next election… it will be a shocker.

  25. What happened in Massacuhetts is what happens whenever anybody takes anything or anybody for granted, just like is suggested in this song:

    Everything 4 Granted
    Dr BLT
    words and music by Dr BLT copyright 2009

  26. Israelis often feel a sense of inferiority when comparing their country with the big, rich and powerful US, from which our prime ministers yearn to get invitations to the Oval Office. Thus it is refreshing to hear that our health insurance system is more humane, comprehensive, equitable, accessible and efficient than America’s.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.