Yesterday, TPM Live Wire had a post titled “Dem Lawmakers Begin Backing Away From Health Care Reform“. I thought the title was a clear over-reach, since the post only referred to one single Democrat, and that too a no-name member of the House, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota.
But we have now seen at least three name-brand Democrats backing away from healthcare reform.
Yesterday afternoon, Senator Russ Feingold opined thusly to a Milwaukee TV station:
If Coakley wins, there’s a good chance we’ll be able to get our health care reform bill through in some decent form, and get it to the President. If she doesn’t win, it’s a serious problem and it’s probably back to the drawing board on health care, which is unfortunate, because everybody agrees we have to do something about health care and so it would be unfortunate to lose this whole effort.
Then, Rep. Anthony Weiner offered up this last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
If we wake up tomorrow and there’s only 59 Democratic votes, I don’t see how we get this done. Now I think we’ve made some crucial mistakes along the way, by making this more complicated than it needs to be.
Barney Frank, of all people, followed that up with this statement on The Rachel Maddow Show:
I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform. Because I do not think that the country would be well served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the senate rule which means that 59 are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of this process.
I’m not sure any comment is necessary. But there is only one possible comment, I think: WTF?
*** Update, 6:39 a.m. ***
Ah, I forgot Senator Jim Webb, didn’t I?
“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,” Mr. Webb said. “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.”