Scott Brown, former Cosmo centerfold, is the next Senator of Massachusetts.
There’s a lot of things you can potentially say about this race. Martha Coakley was clearly a pretty terrible candidate. On the right, you’re going to hear a lot about this being a referendum on heralth care and Obama in general. This, I think, is clearly off-base. This race was never about the issues. This race was entirely about personality.
Martha Coakley comes from the Emily’s List wing of the Democratic Party. She’s just another old Dem with old ideas. In some ways I imagine this race as a small microcosm of what would have happened in 2008 had Hillary Clinton won the nomination. Alienation of independent male voters, and a squeaking Republican victory to go with it.
So where do we go from here?
Jonathon Chait paints the path forward, which basically boils down to three options.
- Stall Brown’s certification and pass an amended bill before he gets sworn in.
- Get Olympia Snowe to vote for an amended bill.
- Get the House to pass the Senate bill as-is, with a promise to use reconciliation for amendments.
#1 will not happen. There’s too many procedural hawks in the Senate and House to pull a stunt like this. #2 is really unlikely, since the dynamics affecting Snowe’s vote haven’t changed, and have actually probably moved her further in the “No” camp.
This leaves us with #3, which is actually really doable. In fact, this may be potential silver lining in this whole fiasco. The real problem with using reconciliation to pass the bill in the first place was getting 60 votes to pass the non-reconciliation compatible portions of the bill. The main question was, basically, will moderate Senators vote for the bulk of the bill if they knew they were being shut out on the other parts? For example, if Harry Reid only brought the non-reconciliation portion to the floor, Ben Nelson would know the rest would go through reconciliation, and he may chose to filibuster the bill because he’s being cut out of the system.
What this result in Massachusetts may provide is the perfect out to use reconciliation to make some pretty major portions of the bill, because the bulk of the bill has already passed the Senate. In other words, we already have the moderate Senators’ votes in the bag for the non-reconciliation portions of the bill. Now let’s go after the other parts in reconciliation.
We’ll see what happens, but reform is definitely not dead.