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Scott Brown and Buyer’s Remorse

Scott Brown was elected to be the final vote against ObamaCare but he never got the chance.  Now, some of his erstwhile supporters are having second thoughts.

scott-brown-expiredRepublican folk hero Sen. Scott Brown is being taunted by triumphant Democrats – and slammed by irked conservatives – after the historic health-care bill he was elected to kill was signed into law by President Obama yesterday.

“If he were a milk carton, he would be expired,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman John Walsh.

[...]

In fact, Democrats now say Brown’s election as the so-called “41st vote” to block Obama’s health-care overhaul inspired them to seek procedural means to bypass GOP efforts to derail the bill.

“Scott Brown’s election actually delivered health-care reform, because we didn’t need the 60 votes to make it happen. He delivered a significant victory in that,” Walsh said.

[...]

Bill Whalen, a former Republican operative and research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, likened Brown to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling both a “political novelty.”

“The luster has worn off,” Whalen said, adding that Brown staked his campaign on health care and many Republicans don’t know where he stands on other issues.

I wrote a post two months ago titled, “Scott Brown’s a Liberal. Why are Conservatives So Enthusiastic?” and was bemused when he was, for example, given rock star treatment at CPAC — a group that would boo the likes of John McCain.

Yet the particular criticism of Brown here is idiotic.  He campaigned quite reasonably expecting to be able to vote on health care reform.   Instead, the Democrats conspired to use a parliamentary trick to get around the inconvenience of having lost a seat in an honest election.  That ain’t Brown’s fault.

And Walsh’s crowing is absurd, too.  The Brown election was seen as a mini-national referendum on ObamaCare. In the days after, several prominent Democratic Senators were publicly opposed to ignoring that outcome by either rushing through a vote before Brown could be seated or using the reconciliation process to ratify the prior vote and get around the need to have another cloture vote.   The fact that the Democratic leadership was willing to do it nonetheless was a testament to their desperation to pass the measure, not a reaction to Brown’s win.   It wouldn’t have been “necessary” with Martha Coakley in the seat, of course, but the outcome would have been the same.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. kth says:

    The Brown election was seen as a mini-national referendum on ObamaCare.

    Wrongly, as it was a localized election with local variables, most notably a lackluster Democratic candidate.

    The fact that the Democratic leadership was willing to do it nonetheless was a testament to their desperation to pass the measure, not a reaction to Brown’s win.

    That’s a funny way to put it, as at the moment of the Brown win the desperation was all on the side of the Dems who wanted to chuck the bill. The cool heads among the Democrats (most notably TNR’s Jon Chait) were the ones insisting that very little had changed regarding the bill’s prospects. Ironically, Scott Brown’s election, by slamming the door shut on a public option, was probably most effective in resolving the divide between Senate Dems and liberals who wanted a more ambitious bill.

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  2. Jack White says:

    kth sounds like a religious nut quoting from a catechism

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  3. kth says:

    ah, I see, because it has kind of an antiphonic call and response look to it. Whatever, glad you don’t actually take issue with the assertions I made.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. Steven Donegal says:

    Instead, the Democrats conspired to use a parliamentary trick to get around the inconvenience of having lost a seat in an honest election.

    Just for clarification purposes, the House passed an identical bill that was passed by the Senate. This bill was signed into law. The House passed another bill that will be taken up by the Senate. I assume your reference to “parliamentary trick” means that you are disappointed that due to the existing rules of the Senate that the Republicans will not be able to use a parliamentary trick–the filibuster–to prevent passage of this separate bill. Or maybe I’m confused as to which of the existing Senate rules you believe is a parliamentary trick. I think you need to tag this one “IOKIYAR”.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    I assume your reference to “parliamentary trick” means that you are disappointed that due to the existing rules of the Senate that the Republicans will not be able to use a parliamentary trick–the filibuster–to prevent passage of this separate bill.

    The filibuster is a time-honored practice of using debate to delay or alter very controversial bills. Reconciliation is a newer practice designed for a limited purpose which even prominent Democrats were saying as recently as three weeks ago was inapplicable to this legislation.

    The Dems did it, anyway, because Brown’s election meant they couldn’t stop a filibuster.

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  6. Grewgills says:

    reconciliation is a newer practice designed for a limited purpose which even prominent Democrats were saying as recently as three weeks ago was inapplicable to this legislation.

    I thought that they said that it was inapplicable to passage of the initial bill and could only be used for budgetary changes. The initial bill passed without resort to parlaimentary tricks. It got 60 votes in the Senate and an identical bill got the required 216 in the House. No parlaimentary tricks required.
    Making budgetary changes to the bill after the fact will make use of reconciliation, but that is a different matter is it not?

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  7. PJ says:

    “The filibuster is a time-honored practice of using debate to delay or alter very controversial bills. Reconciliation is a newer practice designed for a limited purpose which even prominent Democrats were saying as recently as three weeks ago was inapplicable to this legislation.”

    While the filibuster is a lot older than reconciliation, the way to break a filibuster, which is tied closely to the filibuster, isn’t as old. Reconciliation is from 1974.
    Cloture was first used in 1917 and back then 2/3 of the present senators was needed to break a filibuster. In 1949 that was changed to 2/3 of all sworn in senators, then in 1959 back to 2/3 of the present senators and the current rule, 3/5 of the all senators is from 1975.

    The current rules with the two-tracking system added in the 60’s makes it a lot easier for the minority to stop things and get away with it.

    2/3 of the present senators would have meant that the filibusters would have needed to be present at all time, instead of how it now works, and if we went back to pre cloture and pre two-tracking system, the use of filibuster would have meant that the senate would grind to a halt when the filibuster was used.

    My point being that the filibuster of today really isn’t that old.

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  8. Steven Donegal says:

    Time-honored versus new is what you want to hang your hat on here, Jame? I think that straw is just a little bit out of your grasp. Your side lost, fair and square. I’m sorry you don’t like it.

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  9. Rick Almeida says:

    I just hope James will acknowledge that there was nothing “tricky” about the House passing a bill that received 60 votes in the Senate.

    Good people can debate the appropriateness of reconciliation, but the passage of the main legislation was straightforward.

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  10. tom p says:

    Sorry James, just tried to search the OTB website for your ealiest complaint concerning “reconciliation process” and got directed to “Ligit” (or some such) who wants me to sign up so I can get even more spam… sorry, no can do.

    So maybe you can enlighten the rest of us as to when you first complained about the “unfairness” of the reconcilliation process?

    I have a bet with myself (which I would most happily pay off to you)(in the amount of $1.00)(sorry, I am a cheap MF’er) that your first post on this subject was post 2008 (even tho the Repubs used it 13 times in the last 8 years) (I think)

    If I am wrong(and I half expect to be), contact me off blog with a snail mail address and I will most happily send you one crisp dollar bill (suitable for framing)

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  11. Sirkowski says:

    What’s more anti-democratic than a filibuster? Nothing, that’s what.

    And for the record, I was for the Republican’s nuclear option.

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  12. nice strategy says:

    Instead, the Democrats conspired to use a parliamentary trick…

    Democracy is a parliamentary trick. Great. I suppose we might as well be governed by Rassmussen.

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  13. Houston says:

    Maybe some of the senate historians here can remind the rest of us when is the last time the House passed a Senate Bill *as is* without need of a Committee to reconcile the different versions…

    I’m not saying it’s been forever, but I honestly don’t know when’s the last time this workflow was applied.

    Either way, for Dems today to deny that this bill was passed through anything other than the usual means is just dumb.

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  14. PJ says:

    If a bill that passes one of chambers aren’t changed before it’s put up for a vote in the other chamber, then there’s no need for a Committee to reconcile any differences, since there aren’t any.

    I’m guessing there’s a lot of bills that passes both chambers without having to go through a Committee, but I’d say that these bills are likely to be simpler than ACA.
    But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not unusual.

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