Scott Brown, Thank You

Now that Health Care Reform (“HCR”) has passed, I want to personally thank Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.)  and the voters of Massachusetts who elected you.  By getting elected and denying the Democrats their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, I believe you actually made it possible for the Democrats to finally pass HCR.  And here is why:

On December 24, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was able to get his caucus to vote unanimously for a version of HCR that did not contain a public option, medicare buy-in, or single-payer, and had much lower subsidies for the poor to buy health insurance (as compared to a previously passed House version) but did include now famous provisions such as the Cornhusker Kickback and Gator-Aid.  Without those provisions, I do not know if Senators Bill Nelson (FL), Ben Nelson (Neb.) or Mary Landreiu (La.) would have voted for the bill.  But I do know that if Democrats controlled 60 seats in the Senate, a conference committee would have been formed to iron out the differences between the house and senate versions of the bill.

The House, last year, had passed a much more sweeping bill that included a public option and higher subsidies for the poor but did not include the infamous provisions.  The House Democrats made it clear they wanted a public option and wanted the infamous provisions out.  In a conference committee, I am almost positive the House would have gotten either a public option or those provisions removed or both.  Had they done that, I have little doubt that it would have failed to attract 60 votes in the Senate.  Senator Ben Nelson said as much on December 9, 2009. Therefore, HCR as amended would have most likely failed to pass the Senate.  By denying the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Scott Brown forced Speaker Pelosi’s hand.  She and the President knew that they could never attract 60 votes even to form a conference committee to work out the differences, let alone get 60 votes for whatever was produced.  On Sunday, she made the only move she had left–pass the Senate bill and then amend it through reconciliation.

So again, thank you Scott Brown.  Without you, this would not have been possible.


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