The only congressional body that was mildly responsive to populist pressure is now irrelevant. Evidently you can forget about any efforts to influence your member of Congress, because corporatist Senators who write all our laws say the House no longer exists:
Democratic centrists have informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) they will accept few changes in the final healthcare bill negotiated between the House and Senate.
Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) have made clear there is little room to deviate from the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve.
They have also threatened to vote against the bill if it includes a government-run health insurance program, a proposal that liberal Democrats in Congress acknowledge has little chance of winning inclusion in the final bill.
Darren Hutchinson notes remarkably inconsistent language coming out of the White House when it comes to Senate intractability:
Although centrists have continually dug their heels in the sand and threatened to kill the reform process unless their demands were met, the White House has not described their muscularity as “insane” or “irrational.” Instead, these labels seemingly apply only to liberals who demand a tough posture during negotiations.
Someone reminded me yesterday of a post I wrote in early October called “Countdown to Lieberman,” where I said it was only a matter of time before Lieberman stepped forward to tell us all that he and his “centrist” pals would do us the honor of writing the bill for us.
But I got it wrong when I said they wouldn’t explicitly threaten to join a GOP filibuster. That turned out to be the way that they sold this piece of glaring corporatism as “centrist.” By triangulating against the “liberals,” they made it “sensible” by definition in the knee-jerk left/right continuum of our elite media.
As David Sirota reminds us, this can only happen if members of the House consent, according to simple math.
And if they don’t take a stand?
Well, it’s Joe Lieberman’s world now, you’re just living in it.
Image courtesy of Tammra McCauley via flickr