Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Most Stunning Ironic Political Development In My Lifetime

Scott Brown's election has to be the most stunning and ironic political development that I've ever seen. Jesse Ventura becoming governor of Minnesota was stunning. Sonny Bono becoming a serious politician was stunning. Sarah Palin for VP was stunning. But none carry the irony of this election. Congress is consumed in passing a health care bill, the dream of the late senator Ted Kennedy. All the talk since passage of the Senate bill on Christmas Eve was whether the Democratic controlled Congress could reach an agreement (somehow it probably would because failure was not an option given the Obama administration's prioritization). Nowhere on the radar was the possibility that the Senate Democrats might lose their fillbuster proof 60 member majority. Ten days ago I never heard of Scott Brown. Now he has taken the former Ted Kennedy Massachusetts seat in the U.S. Senate. This leaves three alternatives for health care reform. The House can approve the Senate bill intact (with its Cadillac health care excise tax intended to hit at wealthy individuals but which more greatly affects union members) exactly as is, avoiding further Senate votes. They can try to pass a new bill in two weeks or less before Brown is certified. Or they can start all over again. The first two alternatives sound too much like dirty pool and I'd be surprised if they went down that road. So is that the end of health care reform for now?

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