Senate Whip Count Update

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Aug 27, 2009 at 22:03

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From Blue Virginia, I think we had a major breakthrough tonight on the whip count, with Senator Warner indicating that he will not vote against a health care bill with a public option in it:

Well now, after just getting off the phone with Senator Warner's office, I can confirm that this is correct information - in the end, the public option is not a "make or break" for Warner one way or the other and he WILL vote for a health care reform bill with a public option in there. Good news.

So far in the Senate whip count, we had been looking for Senators who would had statements or votes in favor of a non-trigger public option.  This statement is not as strong, but given how close we are to 50, I think it is just as useful.

At this point, just finding another six Senators who will not vote against a health care bill with a public option is just as good as finding another six Senators coming out in favor of the public option.  We should have enough supporters of the public option in the Senate to force a vote on it.  If we can just find another five Senators who might not advocate for the public option, but who will not vote against it when the time comes, then we still have enough support to pass it through the Senate.

After reaching 45 supporters last week, not only had the whip count stagnated, but the death of Senator Kennedy actually moved it back to 44.  With Senator Warner's statement, we can consider ourselves back to 45. I will put Warner in a new category "won't vote against," showing that he is not exactly a supporter, but that where he is will be good enough for now.

Perhaps most importantly, I think that the way Blue Virginia got Senator Warner on the record can be replicated for other wavering Senators, allowing us to get to 50 as early as next week.  At this point, instead of looking for supporters of the public option, maybe we should just be asking Senators to say they won't vote against a bill with a public option in it.  Not only is that an easier statement to make, it is very close to what Senators like Baucus, Carper, Tester and Wyden have already said. With those four votes, we would really be on the brink.

Of course, before making these changes, I would like to hear your thoughts on this new strategy. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Chris Bowers :: Senate Whip Count Update

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I think the category is logically valid (4.00 / 4)
But worry that "I won't vote against a bill with a PO" will turn into, "I had to vote against it because of some other stuff in it I didn't agree with..." or managing to be absent for the cloture vote, or some such shenanigan.

Still that any of them are now grudgingly admitting they won't vote against a PO is progress.  Making moderates unwilling to verbally oppose liberal policies is really an improvement.

Chris (0.00 / 0)
From fladem in Quick Hits:
"It occurs to me that there needs to be two whip counts, one who will vote for the public option and another for those who will not vote for public option, but will vote for cloture."

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

Or to put it somewhat differently: (4.00 / 8)
"will you join a Republican filibuster to frustrate health reform"?

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
yeah, (4.00 / 2)
like he said.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Better put (4.00 / 1)
and phrased appropriately for a Democrat.

There are really two counts, though, that need to be watched.

[ Parent ]
Holy Joe (0.00 / 0)
Getting all the Democratic maybes is not enough.

Lieberman is the only "Demcrat" who is voting No on the public option so far.  Even with Dukais or some other MA replacement, one Republican might be needed for 60.

That leaves us with a) Snowe (I seriously doubt Isaakson would cross over) or b) reconciliation.  The fall back is Voinovich who is in his 70s and may really be retiring rather than looking for a lobbying job.

Would Hatch or one of Ted's other buddies vote one for Ted?  Again, I doubt it.  Possible, though.

[ Parent ]
Is there any way to do this w/out reconcilliation? (0.00 / 0)
Every Republican is going to vote against any bill that Obama favors, so there is 40 votes against it immediately.  Its hard enough to get to 50 for reconcilliation, how are we ever going to get 60?

Schumer thinks that they can... (0.00 / 0)
If we can get a Kennedy replacement in quick, then it makes our case stronger.  Byrd will not screw over his friend on the work of his life...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
Absolutely (4.00 / 1)
because you can vote no on the bill and yes for cloture.

I don't think Snowe will vote to uphold a filibuster.

[ Parent ]
"not vote against" vs. "vote for" (4.00 / 1)
No offense, but this is a very wishy-washy statement.  They could just abstain from voting and still fulfill their end of the deal.  Yeah, it's cowardly, but I wouldn't put it past any of them.

At a minimum, we need them to say they'll vote for a bill with a public option.  They literally need to say, "I will vote for a bill with a public option."  That has to be part of their statement.  They don't have to say they'll require the public option (though that's what we'd really like them to say), but they have to at least say they'll vote for it if that's what's presented.  Until then, it's not a lock.  (Well, they could still betray us in the end, but there's only so much anyone can do about that.)

I don't know if there's anything else I can do as far as this line of attack goes.  My guys are Harkin and Grassley, and we know where both of them stand, already.  And my deepest apologies for Grassley.  I didn't vote for the prick, but he's still my Senator.  He's not listening to us.  Don't expect him to change.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.

Tester officially wishy-washy... (0.00 / 0)

He could vote for a public option, he could vote against a public option... it depends on who tells him what to do, apparently... blech!

hopefully, Schumer has some clout with him still... seeing as how he helped get him elected... we should have some clout with him, too... since, he was a netroots candidate, but I wouldn't hold my breath!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

Oh, and it's nice to know that he's "OK" if HCR fails... (0.00 / 0) its no big deal for him... nice!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
He said he won't vote against a bill with a public option. (4.00 / 2)
But he didn't say he wouldn't vote against a public option by itself. What if an amendment is offered to remove it? He might vote for that.

Still at it, I see. (0.00 / 0)
Chris, why are you shilling for something that won't cover even half of the uninsured and that won't lead to what most if not all of us say we really want: single-payer?  Did you not read what Nick Skala had to say about this weak and ineffectual scheme?

The "public option" preserves all of the systemic defects inherent in reliance on a patchwork of private insurance companies to finance health care, a system which has been a miserable failure both in providing health coverage and controlling costs.


On two separate occasions last month, physicians and nurses were dragged from the Senate Finance Committee in handcuffs for demanding that single-payer be considered in our nation's health reform debate. These were American doctors and nurses, people who care for patients, people who want to practice medicine, not protest and disrupt Congress.

But these professionals risked their careers and their freedom. They did this not because they thought that the "public option" was "good" and single-payer "better." They did it because they are firmly convinced, by well-established health policy science, that the so-called "public option" has no hope of remedying the systemic defects that cause their patients to suffer and die, sometimes before their very eyes.

Skala goes on to give three major reasons the so-called public option, as is, will fail:

First, because the "public option" is built around the retention of private insurance companies, it is unable - in contrast to single-payer - to recapture the $400 billion in administrative waste that private insurers currently generate in their drive to fight claims, issue denials and screen out the sick. A single-payer system would redirect these huge savings back into the system, requiring no net increase in health spending.

In contrast, the "public option" will require huge new sources of revenue, currently estimated at around $1 trillion over the next decade. Rather than cutting this bloat, the public option adds yet another layer of useless and complicated bureaucracy in the form of an "exchange," which serves no useful function other than to police and broker private insurance companies.

Second, because the "public option" fails to contain the cost control mechanism inherent in single-payer, such as global budgeting, bulk purchasing and planned capital expenditures, any gains in coverage will quickly be erased as costs skyrocket and government is forced to choose between raising revenue and cutting benefits.

Third, because of this inability to control costs or realize administrative savings, the coverage and benefits that can be offered will be of the same type currently offered by private carriers, which cause millions of insured Americans to go without needed care due to costs and have led to an epidemic of medical bankruptcies.

And the states that have tried this miserable failure of a "public option" (on which the federal bill is modeled), according to Skala, have given the following results:

Virtually all of the reforms being floated by President Obama and other centrist Democrats have been tried, and have failed repeatedly. Plans that combined mandates to purchase coverage with Medicaid expansions fell apart in Massachusetts (1988), Oregon (1992), and Washington state (1993); the latest iteration (Massachusetts, 2006) is already stumbling, with uninsurance again rising and costs soaring. Tennessee's experiment with a massive Medicaid expansion and a public plan option worked - for one year, until rising costs sank it.

Do us all a favor, Mr. Bowers.  Stop pushing your readers to rally around something they know will fail.  Push them instead to fight for something that will work: single-payer.  It's got to be that or nothing, and I guarantee you that this weak "public option" is the nothing with which we will be saddled if you and others help it to pass.

Right - the public option, as it stands, will ultimately defeat the Democrats (4.00 / 1)
If H.R. 3200 is what eventually passes it will only maintain the status quo, even with a public option.

Everyone in the U.S. will be required to purchase health insurance. The poor will get subsidies to comply with the mandate, but the amount of money won't be enough because whenever those in power give anything to the poor it is never enough. The subsidies will increase the deficit.

Private insurance companies will continue to reap profits and health care costs will not go down.

Democrats will be blamed. Obama may go on to serve another term because he's very savvy and we've reelected many bad presidents, but the balance of power in Congress will probably change.

The GOP and the right win again!

[ Parent ]
Warner said he was against single-payer (0.00 / 0)
This is from MARK WARNER, dtd Aug 20, 2009.

Thank you for your recent letter regarding reforming our nation's health care system.  I share your concerns about the need for comprehensive health care reform, especially during this challenging economic time.

Although I do not support a government-run single-payer health care system, I believe we need comprehensive reform to achieve a competitive, cost-effective, and efficient system.  This effort should be primarily focused on ensuring that all Americans can get adequate health coverage, and the coverage must be cost-effective and based upon data-driven medical standards.  We must ensure that competition remains among health care providers because it is precisely that competition that drives innovation and cost reduction in the industry.  Any final reform should also include measures to promote prevention and wellness, senior navigation through the health system, health information technology ("health IT") and telemedicine.

How can they screw us--let us count the ways. (0.00 / 0)
Reading the entry, I thought Chris had some good ideas.  Reading the comments I see the pit falls.

I'm a single payer advocate, however it ain't happening.  Medicare as the public option is a step towards medicare for all.  Congress and Obama are all about incrementalism.

The bill needs to go through reconciliation. Trying to get 60 votes for cloture is a waste of time.  Does Obama have the balls to do that?  His balls are necessary because Reid has none.

The bill needs 50 Senators, then Biden will break the tie.  Schumer has clout with most newly elected senators.  He needs to break arms to get this done.  He is certainly capable of doing so.  

I live in a true blue state--I will have a choice in November

And here's why it's not happening: (0.00 / 0)
You're not advocating for it.  You accept "no" for an answer far too readily, so you give up any notion of pushing for single-payer without ever really bothering to try.  As a result, we on the left demand nothing and therefore receive nothing.  Please stop making excuses for the enemy.  You aren't going to get single-payer unless you demand it and then push Congress to pass it.  Anything less is unacceptable.

[ Parent ]

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