An American Cry For Help

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment, An American Cry For Help. Video above and full text under the fold.

“The Republican Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.” — Rep. Anthony Weiner

Video of Representative Anthony Weiner in the House of Representatives.

Far Right Shocked To Find Scott Brown Is Not One Of Them

Tea baggers united in support of Scott Brown without realizing that he was not one of them. While in other states they tend to reject moderate Republicans and demand ideological purity, a path likely to lead to loses such as in the New York Congressional race, the prospect of winning Ted Kennedy’s old seat led them to ignore Brown’s record. Now they are surprised and upset after he voted against the filibuster on the  jobs bill.

Brown is a moderate by Republican standards. Supporting such a moderate was clearly the sensible move in a liberal state such as Massachusetts, but in this case many conservatives did the right thing out of ignorance as opposed to following a rational strategy. Considering the problems with the Democratic nominee and considering the amount of corruption in the state’s Democratic party, I very well might have voted for Brown over Coakley if I lived in Massachusetts and if this wasn’t during a year when there was such major national ramifications from the vote.

Gawker has collected enraged Scott Brown fan comments from Facebook. Michael Tomasky quoted Glenn Beck’s attack demanding “a chastity belt on this man.” He pointed out that “Beck’s longer remarks above show that he actually understands little about politics.”

The Los Angeles Times reports on how conservatives were upset after Brown announced he would join four other Republicans in blocking the GOP filibuster of the jobs bill:

Cries of “letdown,” “betrayal,” “sellout,” and “RINO” — “Republican in name only” — flew around Twitter. By late Tuesday afternoon, more than 4,200 people had left comments on Brown’s Facebook page, most harshly negative. (And liberals engaged in some cyber-schadenfreude at the same time.)

Just five days earlier, Brown had been cheered loudly by conservative activists at a gathering in Washington. He was so warmly received that some in the crowd began suggesting he could be another Ronald Reagan and help usher in a new era of conservatism.

Tea party and other conservative activists felt particularly let down by Brown’s Monday vote because many of them had poured money and manpower into his underdog bid to capture the Senate seat long occupied by liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy.

By Monday night, many of his Twitter followers had concluded that a White House run had become out of the question — even as he entered Day 19 of his Senate tenure.

It appears that if Brown is voting based upon the political ramifications he is looking more at his prospects for reelection in Massachusetts than he is looking at national support. Besides, if he were to turn into a viable national candidate there is plenty of time for him to still pander to the far right as Mitt Romney did.

Not all conservatives were surprised, including a writer at The American Conservative, had actually looked at Brown’s record. Sean Scallon writes that the Tea Partiers were misled into supporting Brown:

Brown, to his credit, never claimed to be a conservative anything, just an “independent voice in Washington.” The people projecting the image of Jim DeMint on Brown were the Tea Partiers themselves and the Republican hacks  encouraging them to do so.  That they feel betrayed is understandable but they cannot blame Scott Brown for this. They were misled and fooled because slick political rhetoricians knew exactly how to take advantage of them.

Scallon is correct that the tea baggers were misled but we differ in that Scallon advises them to support true conservatives. In contrast, I believe the real place where the tea baggers are being misled is in following the conservative movement at all. The conservative movement is the cause of the problems faced by those in the Tea Party movement, not the solution.

Reconciliation Commonly Used For Health Care–Not The Nuclear Option

Despite the talk that health care reform is dead, the Democrats have at least a 50:50 chance of passing the Senate bill and fixing it by use of budget reconciliation. Republicans are trying to counter this by falsely claiming this would be using the “nuclear option.” Steve Benen provides a good summary of what the “nuclear option” proposed by Senate Republicans in the past really consisted of and how it differs from what the Democrats are actually considering.

Budget reconciliation has been used many times in the past to pass a variety of measures. Today NPR’s Morning Edition had a story on how reconciliation has been used to pass health care measures. This includes COBRA and creating CHIP. Reconciliation has also been used several times to make changes in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The story concluded with a discussion of using reconciliation for changes in Medicare:

Budget reconciliation has also been an important tool for changing the Medicare program.

“Going back even close to 30 years, if you start say in 1982, the reconciliation bill that year added the hospice benefit, which is very important to people at the end of life,” says Tricia Neuman, vice president and director of the Medicare Policy Project for the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Over the years, budget reconciliation bills added Medicare benefits for HMOs, for preventive care like cancer screenings; added protections for patients in nursing homes; and changed the way Medicare pays doctors and other health professionals.

Because the point of budget reconciliation was usually to cut the deficit, the huge Medicare program was nearly always on the chopping block. But there’s another reason it became the bill of choice for other far-reaching changes.

“This happened primarily because it was the only train leaving the station, so if policymakers wanted to make a change in health policy, the only way to do it would be to amend a reconciliation bill, and that’s really why it happened,” says Neuman, a former congressional health policy staffer.

In fact, over the past three decades, the number of major health financing measures that were NOT passed via budget reconciliation can be counted on one hand. And one of those — the 1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act — was repealed the following year after a backlash by seniors who were asked to underwrite the measure themselves. So using the process to try to pass a health overhaul bill might not be easy. But it won’t be unprecedented.

It also must be remembered that similar health care bills passed the House by a majority vote and by the  Senate by a super-majority. Now all we are talking about is using a simple majority vote to make adjustments to two separate bills which have already passed in order to prepare the final bill. This is not anything which is either radical or unprecedented.