Lieberman Backed Medicare Buy-In This Fall

Greg Sargent makes an excellent catch, finding that not only did Joe Lieberman support in the somewhat distant past the type of Medicare buy-in proposal he is now promising to filibuster -- he spoke out in favor of such a proposal just three months ago. Take a look:

The Beltway press is beginning to take note that Lieberman's position isn't really principled, and this video evidence isn't likely to help the Connecticut Senator convince anyone otherwise. Given that Lieberman's power stems from his cachet with the establishment, the potential that he will lose this cachet as more realize that his positions are less about principle than politics might actually be the way to get him to back down.

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Backing Dem Bills Is Not Necessarily Bad Politics

Nate Silver has an interesting post up tonight disputing the contention by Chris Bowers that while the Democrats are in electoral trouble, progressives are not. To prove his point, Nate examines how the 39 most vulnerable House members -- as determined by the Cook Political Report -- voted on the three major votes of the year: the stimulus package, the health care bill, and the climate bill. Nate surmises:

On all three issues, the vulnerable Democrats were more likely than average ones to have voted against their party. Nevertheless, solid majorities were in support of each of these agenda items. The Most Vulnerable Democrats (MVDs) voted for the health care bill 22-17, the climate bill 24-14, and the stimulus package 34-4. Only 12 of the 39 voted against at least two out of the three initiatives, and only three of the 39 (Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith of Alabama, and Walt Minnick of Idaho) completely struck out.

It's clear that, with the exception of the three conservative members listed by Nate, all on Cook's list of most vulnerable Democratic members voted for at least one of these key measures. Indeed, 26 of the 39 voted aye on two of the three measures, and nearly half (19) voted in favor of every single one of the measures on which they voted. Nate is thus entirely correct that Cook's list of vulnerable members is replete with progressives, or at least with members more likely than not to side with their party on key House votes, rather than simply stocked with conservatives from conservative districts.

But that, in part, is the point of Cook's list. The reason why a number of these Democrats are listed among Cook's most vulnerable is precisely because they have voted as they have under the presumption that supporting the Democratic agenda is bad politics. While this may be true, it also may not be true; it's a hypothesis, one that isn't going to be proven until election day next year (or at least until we are a lot closer to next election day).

This isn't to say that progressives are necessarily immune in the 2010 House elections, or that voting in favor of the Democratic agenda will inoculate otherwise vulnerable members. But the opposite isn't necessarily true, either. Voting the conservative position does not give Democrats a "get out of losing your reelection bid" card -- just ask Jean Carnahan or Max Cleland, both of whom were turned out of office on election day 2002 despite having taken the purportedly safer vote in favor of the Iraq War one month earlier.

So I'm not ready to buy into the notion that it is bad politics for Democratic House members to back the Democratic legislative agenda, or at least not only on the basis of Cook's most vulnerable list.

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Health Reform Backers Getting Swamped in TV Ads

Chris Cillizza has the numbers:

In the first week of November, the opposition spent $12 million to just $2.5 million for the those who support the package. That margin narrowed to a $600,000 edge for the opposition in the second week and widened again to a $4.5 million advantage in the third week.

Overall, supporters of healthcare reform have spent nearly as much money as have those opposed to the measure -- $73.5 million to $75 million. But coming down the stretch, supporters are running clearly behind the opposition, investing $13.6 million less so far during the month of November.

Money isn't everything, and credit or responsibility for the success or failure of healthcare reform will likely lie at the White House rather than on outside groups. That said, those hoping to see a near universal system of healthcare enacted soon might be well served to figure out a way to come closer to parity on the airwaves so that public sentiment does not shift to the point that reform becomes less attainable on a political level.

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Healthcare Reform Passes Major Test in Senate

Moments ago, the Senate voted by a 60 to 39 margin to invoke cloture to bring healthcare reform legislation to the floor. The outcome of the vote was expected, yet monumental. More procedural hurdles remain, and the leadership still must round up 60 votes in favor of reform (not just the 60 votes to bring the legislation to the floor). But there's no getting around the fact that tonight's vote was an historic moment in this country.

Update [2009-11-21 20:20 EST by Nathan Empsall]: The roll call isn't up on senate.gov yet, but according to The Hill, the one missing vote (39 nay instead of 40) was the "moderate" and retiring Republican George Voinovich of Ohio, who was absent.

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CBO: Health Reform Reduces Deficit by $777B/20yrs

Breaking now from MSNBC, the Senate healthcare reform bill comes in below the President's threshold of $900 billion over 10 years -- at $849 billion, to be precise -- and will reduce the deficit by $127 billion. The bill reportedly will cover 94 percent of Americans. More as we hear it...

Update [2009-11-18 17:17:35 by Jonathan Singer]: The Senate legislation will also reduce the deficit by a whopping $650 billion over the second decade of the bill, in total bringing deficit reduction to $777 billion over 20 years -- a number that will make it significantly more difficult for the Republicans to credibly claim that healthcare reform is in some way imprudent.

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