When the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, the working theory in the majority party was that they had to get Republican votes to pass health care reform. Now that the Democrats have 59 votes in the Senate, there is a new working theory: that the Democrats must get Republican votes to pass health care reform:
New Senate Democratic talking points, distributed in response to last night’s special election in Massachusetts show the party pre-emptively placing the blame for a lackluster agenda moving forward on Republicans, who Dems say they now need to pass legislation.
“Republicans have an obligation to the American people to join us in governing our nation through these difficult times and to help clean up the mess they left behind,” reads the memo obtained by TPMDC. “It is mathematically impossible for Democrats to pass legislation on our own. Senate Republicans to come to the table (sic) with ideas for improving our nation and not obstructionist tactics.”
Sure, it’s mathematically impossible for the Democrats to pass legislation on their own — as long as there are no Democrats in the Senate with the arithmetic skills to know that if there are 100 U.S. senators, a majority is 51.
It is this astounding loss of will and nerve over losing one Senate seat that will defeat Democrats in the midterms. Ezra Klein has some much-needed tough love for the Democrats:
Reader MK writes:
I’ve voted for Democrats all my life. I’ve campaigned for and donated to the Democratic Party. But if they say they can’t or won’t go any further on health care because they only have 59 votes in the Senate, they deserve to lose.
I’m hearing a lot of this. Last night, I was talking to a committed Democrat. A Massachusetts Democrat, in fact. And her despair was persuasive. “I didn’t vote for a party that would abandon my agenda because it lost one seat in the Senate,” she said. “The party I voted for, and want to be part of, would recognize political opportunity in the waning days of its supermajority and pass what it could pass, and then keep coming back for more.”
The loss in Massachusetts was a terrible disappointment to Democrats. But it can be explained away. Martha Coakley was a terrible candidate. Scott Brown ran an excellent campaign. These things happen.
But the reaction congressional Democrats have had to Coakley’s loss has been much more shattering. It has been a betrayal.