Our government at work

January 22, 2010

With the Republican pickup of Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat, health insurance reform is on the ropes. Numerous experts and commentators agree that
since the Senate Democrats no longer have the votes to pass a revised
bill, the way forward is for the House to pass the existing
(underwhelming) Senate bill as is—and then improve it via the budget
reconciliation process, which doesn’t require filibuster-proof
supermajorities. (Ron Pollack has advocated doing this in reverse order.) But House Democrats might not have the votes to make this happen, because of trouble from both the right and left wings of the caucus.

In
short, although the country’s left-leaning major party has control of
the White House and large majorities in both houses of Congress, it
might not be enough to pass a moderate, common-sense bill—a bill full of ideas that right-of-center folks used to support, a bill that represents compromise after compromise by liberals.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc used its one-vote majority to roll back campaign finance reform by reducing restrictions on political donations from corporations and unions. Steve Woolley speaks for the moral outrage many are feeling, while fellow CCblogger David Lewicki highlights a root philosophical problem: the alleged personhood of corporations.

James Fallows points out
the not-so-delicious irony: “In the least accountable branch of
government, the narrowest margin prevails; in our elected legislative
branch, substantial majorities are neutered.”