None of those Democrats is feeling the heat as intensely as Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), who has become emblematic of the improbable distance that health-care reform has traveled, and how far it still must go before becoming law.A vote to end debate should not be of concern, it is the final vote that matters. There is no reason these folks can't support caucus procedures and then be allowed to vote their conscience or constituency on the final ballot.
Her vote and that of two other Democrats expressing serious reservations about the legislation -- Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (La.) -- will determine whether it will garner the 60 needed to break an all-but-certain Republican filibuster.
As for Lieberman:
one, independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), has threatened to join a GOP filibuster if the final bill contains a government insurance plan, or "public option.". . . he should simply should be given an ultimatum. His 60th vote is key, and as a former member of the Democratic Party he has been allowed to retain his chairmanship and the perks that go with it. If it turns out his vote means nothing, then there is no longer any reason to allow him to keep his seniority. It may have been different when it meant the choice between majority and minority status, but if we can't count on him for key procedural votes, there is no reason to consider him a member of the caucus.
But, Sen Lincoln is a different animal, as she is the one whose electoral future is on the line. However, large numbers of her constituency needs this bill:
Hundreds of thousands of Lincoln's constituents are low-income and lack insurance, the very kind of voters expected to benefit under the Senate bill. Lincoln, a second-term senator, helped write some of the legislation's key provisions as a member of the Finance Committee, and her sometimes uncomfortable role near the center of the debate could cost her in culturally conservative Arkansas. Despite the potential benefits for many in her state, polls show her support weakening, and constituents are expressing doubts about the proposed overhaul.Sen. Pryor of Arkansas sums it up nicely:
The low-profile centrist is being pressed by both sides. Democratic activists are incensed that she has turned against the public option, an idea she once supported. Republicans are casting her cautious approach to the health-care debate in starkly political terms, saying that she is unwilling to put local interests above those of a president who lost the state by a resounding 20 percentage points.
"In some ways, there's not a good vote on this," said Sen. Mark Pryor (D), Arkansas's junior senator, who coasted to reelection last year. "You're going to have detractors on either side, no matter what you do. So I think in the end you have to what you think is right. And I think that's what we're all going to have to do."It is unfortunate that politics has to play such a major role in peoples' lives, and I mean there physical mortality, not just their everyday lives. There is much to be concerns about in the bill, but there is a vast majority of items that are desperately needed.
I wish the obstructionist opposition would negotiate in good faith so we could find common ground and get this deal done. But there are too many who are only concerned about self interest, and not the interests of the American people. That is a sad commentary on where our political system is at.