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House, M.D.: Congress passes historic health care reform

Let’s see, did anything significant happen this weekend? Oh yes; Congress passed the most sweeping reform of health care since the creation of Medicaid in 1965, an act so opposed by the American right wing that not a single Republican voted for it and Rush Limbaugh threatened to leave the country if it passed — to Costa Rica, specifically, where they already have nationalized health care. He is back-peddling a bit now, although we at the Daily Glean are not clear on what his actual plans are. Maybe he will continue to get health care in Hawaii, where they have near-universal health care.

How did our representatives vote? There are not many surprises here. Keith Ellison has been merrily tweeting about the session, saying, “Let’s extend health care to 32 million Americans,” and cheerleading every twist and turn, such as when he tweeted, “Ds all stand and applaud the best Speaker in American history, Nancy Pelosi.” MinnPost’s Derek Wallbank has the remaining tally.

Bachmann, of course, voted against it, but who knows what she thought she was voting against? Not to put too fine a point on it, she has been stunningly, publicly antigodlin about many aspects of the bill, including promoting what PolitFact dubbed the “Lie of the Year“: The nonsense about death panels, as reported by MediaMatters. She’s been a favorite of the Tea Party, even appearing at the rally this past weekend in which attendees hurled racial and homophobic epithets at members of Congress and openly threatened gun violence if the bill passed; Barney Frank singled her out when he complained about the slurs that had been directed at him, saying, “You know, Michele Bachmann’s rhetoric is inflammatory as well as wholly baseless.”

Further, her understanding of the abandoned “Deem and Pass” technique that Democrats considered using to pass the bill was so faulty that, as Hotdish Politics reports, even she admitted she was wrong about it. Heck, she even spells America wrong on her own web page, which has got to be a little embarrassing. It may be impolitic to say, but there is very good reason to think that the bill Bachmann thought she was voting against bore less than a passing resemblance to the bill she actually voted against.

But, then, who actually knows what the bill says? You can view the bills online (here’s one!), sure, sure, but who does that? Thankfully, FOX9 offers a handy summary, but, then, there are two different bills, one in the House, one in the Senate, and they must be reconciled. The New York Times offers a useful infographic on the likely changes once the two bills are reconciled, and it will be interesting to see how Senate Republicans respond to reconciliation. There has been some accusations that they decided to be relentlessly obstructionist, starting before Obama was even sworn in, the most forceful of these accusations coming from Carl Hulse and Adam Nagourney of the New York Times. The reconciliation process promises to address many of the issues that Republicans complained about, including backroom deals and unfunded mandates. But will they play ball?

We’ll see. There is already a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on. This was, after all, one of the most significant planks of Obama’s presidential campaign, and passing health care reform has stymied every president since Theodore Roosevelt (including, it should be noted, Richard M. Nixon). Despite the fact that nobody seems very satisfied with the current bill (even Obama confessed the bill left a lot of people unsatisfied), the Republicans might have handed Obama a very big win — Conservative journalist David Frum called it the GOP’s “Waterloo,” saying, “We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

In fact, it is Bachmann herself who will first find herself in the cross hairs as a result of this bill’s passage: Paul Schmelzer of the Minnesota Independent informs us that Americans United for Change already has an ad prepared slamming Bachmann for her vote on health care reform, and will start airing it Tuesday. The text includes the following: “Michele Bachmann made a different kind of history by voting to deny giving Minnesotans access to the same kind of insurance she enjoys very much as members of Congress. If it’s good enough for her, shouldn’t it be good enough for the people of Minnesota?”

Of course, health care reform wasn’t the only news this past weekend. The Associated Press was kind enough to tell us that the Red River has crested and begun to recede, leaving behind much less damage than it caused when it flooded last year. Gregory J. Scott of the Downtown Journal tells us that bikes will now be allowed on Nicollet Mall, a concessions to cyclists who have lost bike lanes as a result of the rejiggering of traffic downtown. Oh, and a naked man was Tased on I-35 near Forest Lake after rushing at the police and claiming he was the devil and had killed God. And, who knows, maybe he was, but it’s a bit surprising that a Taser could stop him. Elizabeth Mohr of the Pioneer Press has the story.

Anything else? Oh my goodness, yes. As MinnPost’s own David Brauer relates, while health care reform found a place on the front page of both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, it was another tale that really got the primo treatment from both papers. Specifically: The Twins have given Joe Mauer an eight-year contract extension and will be paying him $184 million.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/22/2010 - 03:13 pm.

    The second bill passed last night by the house, the reconciliation bill, makes a collection of changes, using financial additions and subtractions and making changes to the terms of the bill that will directly affect its monetary effects.

    Therefore it is a “budget reconciliation bill.” As such, it can be passed by the senate using a simple majority vote. All Republicans will prove their fealty to themselves and their “that’s my story and I’m sticking to it” obstructionist attitudes by voting no, even thought in doing so they will be voting against removing many of the “special deals” and various provisions to which they were screaming their opposition prior to the house’s passage of the original senate bill.

    I believe this is what’s known as “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

  2. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 03/22/2010 - 08:33 pm.

    Would those “special deals” have been approved by our own two Senators and four of our Representatives? Of course. It is a tremendous victory for the President and the majority party but I’m not sure that Senator Nelson considers it such a victory. Nor the people making under $250,000 that thought that they were tax increase free, or the people who thought that Rep. Ellison was serious when he said that he’d never vote for a bill without the public option, or…

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