Kagro X. explains Senate Parliamentary Procedure:
See what I mean? Without an unanimous consent agreement imposing a 60 vote threshold on a public option amendment, the leadership will have to prevail on wavering Dems for their cloture votes on the amendment, then again on final passage of the Senate bill (assuming the public option amendment is adopted, and causes Republicans to force a cloture vote on the whole bill), then maybe a third time on the conference report. But with an unanimous consent agreement and a 60 vote threshold, conservadems get to vote no on the public option amendment and defeat it even if there's a majority for it, and then won't be asked to cast a procedural or substantive vote involving the public option again until the measure before them is the conference report. They may be asked along the way to vote for cloture on any number of other issues, but not the public option.
So, is that a reason to swallow a strategy that entails keeping the public option out of the bill brought to the Senate floor, and OK-ing an unanimous consent agreement imposing a 60 vote threshold to add it? Well, it's a plausible explanation for it, anyway. But boy, is that ever going to require a sales job. And it had better include some ironclad guarantees from the Dems who get pampered by it. Because you're asking a majority of the Senate Democratic Caucus, not to mention grassroots supporters across the country, to sit on their hands while events look for all the world like the public option is going to its death, all for the political comfort of a very few nervous, conservative Democrats. And those Democrats will have the power to sink the whole thing in the end, if they think it suits them. The conventional wisdom may be that no Dem wants the blood of the health bill on their hands, but the Democrats we're talking about are busy running away from the party as fast as they can (or at least as fast as they can look like they're running, anyway). And those aren't people I feel all that comfortable trusting with that much power over such an important bill.
How will you be able to tell -- if the public option isn't in the Senate's version of the bill and a public option amendment goes down under a 60 vote threshold -- whether there's a secret deal to bring it back in conference, and an agreement from troublemaking Dems to buck up for one key cloture vote in the end, if necessary?
You won't. You'll be asked to believe in the eleventy-billion dimensional chess Tooth Fairy again. But could there really be one? Yes there could.
Italics mine. This doesn't make the slightest sense unless you read the whole thing over there, so I'll wait while you do that....
OK, done? Now, here's the thing. This *still* doesn't make the slightest sense. In no realistic way, shape, or form does a given Senator not know how they will or won't vote on something as big as "My Party's Signature Bill and the Public Option." The actual voting procedure is not really a set of strategic choices in which the vote is always up for grabs. In reality the Senator has some goals--which may or may not conflict with the party hierarchy and what it wants--and the Party leaders have some goals and some tools to compel compliance. If the Party isn't using its tools that's another matter. But that is merely to say that they are abdicating their responsibility to get the best legislation, or at any rate the legislation they want, out of the process.
We have exactly the 60 votes necessary under all the arcane rules. We have 60 Senators who should be completely under our thumb and committed to the good of the party and the country which, in this case, is arguably the same thing and certainly from their perspective has to be the same thing. In the real world all our Senators stand or fall with the fortunes of our party, and our party stands or falls with the fortunes of our legislation. This weird calculation of individual Senatorial interests is based on some notion that there's some legitimate separation between a Senator's interests and that of the national party platform. But even weirder, its based on the totally fake argument that there is a legitimate fear, on the part of those wavering Senators, that minor portions of their voting record will be known and remembered against them by their constituents. Its an utter and complete head fake. No one in the real world--and no one in their states--is watching to see whether a given Senator voted against their party on a key piece of legislation. Most people have no idea what each step entails. They simply don't care. If they like the end piece of legislation they won't know who supported it, and if they don't like it they still won't know. And as the Republicans have demonstrated with their recent volte face on Medicare even if you opposed the original legislation and voted against it you can always come around and champion it later to great effect. Everyone loves a reformed whore. Or you can say you were lied to. (Just don't try Kerry's moronic "I voted for it before I voted against it." Really, just don't bother.)
I've been saying this for a while and so its not new but what the hell. There is simply no excuse for Reid and Obama and Rahm and the Democratic Donors to have allowed Lincoln, the Nelson's, or anyone else to think that going against the Party and its signature legislation could ever have any payoff for them. The votes should have been in Reid's pocket before Obama started us down this road. And they could have been. Of course they could have been. Each one of these assholes has his price.(Lincoln, Carper, Nelson, Nelson, Baucus, Conrad, I'm looking at you.) They have done everything up to and including hanging a tag with a dollar sign on every orifice. And I can't exactly blame them. Obama and Rahm with their backroom Pharma Deal have made it clear that there wasn't enough money in the General Fund for in house bribery. They've allowed the Democrats to continue relying on outside funders, as it were, for their needs. If you want to call the tune, you've got to pay the piper. This aint no eleventy eleven dimension chessety chess game. Its a straight up "when good government is for sale money talks and bullshit walks" same as it is when bad government is for sale.