Tuesday, February 16, 2010

4 + 47 = 51

So progressive senators Mike Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have written a letter to maj. leader Reid suggesting that a public option be introduced and passed in the Senate by reconciliation. Certainly it would be nice if such a motion could pass, but we still need 47 more votes. This is the kind of thing that a forceful president and majority leader might be able to pull off using behind-the-scenes arm-twisting. But I emphasize might. No source I have seen suggests that the votes are there. That's why we need arm-twisting. In any case, it still looks like we need some Democratic hardball. Why aren't the Dems reminding people that reconciliation is a time-honored technique to make the Senate more responsive and democratic (small "d").

Of course, this is mainly a Senate problem. The House, being more representative of the people and not having a filibuster rule, is actually quite progressive. But nothing, just nothing, is coming out of the Senate's event horizon.

Meanwhile Obama is off in cloud cuckoo land, trying to woo the PTR with promises of new nuclear power plants. Note that no one has yet solved the problem of what to do with spent nuclear fuel and other highly dangerous and long-lived radioactive waste. Nobody wants it, Republican, Democrat or Independent. If this problem could be solved, I'd be all for nukes; maybe if we build 'em, the problem will simply go away.

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