Coburn's Obstruction Wins the Day in the Senate

Early today Senator Tom Coburn, a member of the Grand Obstructionist Party from Oklahoma, objected to a request to dispense with the reading of an amendment offered by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont proposing a single-payer system. Though normally a courtesy that is almost always granted to fellow senators, the petulant Tom Coburn forced the Senate clerk to read aloud a 767-page amendment to healthcare reform legislation, paralyzing action on the chamber floor as Democrats approach their self-imposed Christmas deadline. It would have taken at least eight hours to read the amendment.

Senator Sanders has now withdrawn his amendment. From The Hill:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday withdrew his single-payer healthcare amendment after Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) initiated a procedural maneuver to shipwreck the measure.

Coburn earlier in the day forced the Senate clerk to read aloud Sanders's 767-page amendment to the Senate healthcare bill in an effort to halt the healthcare debate.

Sanders, a self-described "democratic socialist," spoke on the Senate floor to announce the withdrawal of the measure.

"The day will come, although I recognize it's not today, when the U.S. Congress will have to vote to stand up to ... all those who profit every single year off of human sickness," Sanders said. "That day will come."

Sanders's decision to withdraw the amendment will stop the reading and allow debate to continue.

The amendment would have extended Medicare coverage to all who wanted it.

Their obsession with free markets, that aren't free, will destroy this country. To protect the narrow interests and profane profits of the insurance industry, they are willing to condemn thousands to an early grave. Their lack of empathy for the rights of the poor and their disregard for the decline in American living standards under their rule is beyond comprehension. Here's their record:

When Clinton left office nearly 11.6 million children lived in poverty, according to the Census. When Bush left office that number had swelled to just under 14.1 million, an increase of more than 21 per cent.

The story is similar again for access to health care. When Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million. By the time Bush left office that number had grown to just over 46.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million or 20.6 per cent.

The trends look the same when examining shares of the population that are poor or uninsured, rather than the absolute numbers in those groups. When Clinton left office in 2000 13.7 per cent of Americans were uninsured; when Bush left that number stood at 15.4 per cent. (Under Bush, the share of Americans who received health insurance through their employer declined every year of his presidency-from 64.2 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per cent in 2008.)

When Clinton left the number of Americans in poverty stood at 11.3 percent; when Bush left that had increased to 13.2 percent. The poverty rate for children jumped from 16.2 per cent when Clinton left office to 19 per cent when Bush stepped down.

It is probably pointless to note that the most effective healthcare programs in the United States are single payer systems. The best kept secret in the country is the healthcare provided by the Veterans Administration, a single payer system.  So extending a successful program that saves lives and cuts costs is a naturally an object of GOP disdain simply because it is government-run. Their love of free markets will kill us all.

Tags: Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Tom Coburn, single-payer (all tags)



Re: Coburn's Obstruction

Somehow this all must be Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Rahms fault.


by vecky 2009-12-16 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Coburn's Obstruction

Even if it isn't, to the Republicans and their allies in the Liberal Blogosphere, especially the GOP's good buddy Upstate Kent, they'll make up something.

by spirowasright 2009-12-16 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Coburn's Obstruction

Sanders was the bigger man today.  The GOP-induced delay would have prevented the Dems from filing cloture on the defense appropriations bill, which needs to pass by Friday at midnight or there's no funding for the troops.  Sanders pulled the amendment so the Senate's business could move forward and the troops would get their funding.

Sometimes you wish the Democrats were willing to demagogue this stuff in the shameless way the GOP does.

by Steve M 2009-12-16 12:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Coburn's Obstruction

The amendment wasn't going to pass. We knew that. What Coburn did was shut down debate. So much for their respect of having an open and cogent debate.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-16 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Coburn's Obstruction

They openly admit that their purpose is to delay the bill as much as possible.  We don't have to employ a lot of deductive reasoning in order to prove it.

by Steve M 2009-12-16 12:37PM | 0 recs

Grand Obstructionist Party.  Independents are just going to love them for all their derisive sabotage, I'm guessing.  How is it that the Democrats cop the blame for failing to pass health care reform in the face of this uniform intransigence?  Beats me.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-16 01:01PM | 0 recs
Independents don't pay attention

to stuff like this.  Pretty much by definition.  Though I wish I could share your optimism.

by JJE 2009-12-16 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Independents don't pay attention

I'm afraid you're right.

Q: What do you call a children's magazine feature about the political choices most Americans make and what they reject?

A: Doofus and Gallant.

by spirowasright 2009-12-16 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Hmmm...

I have always felt that "the public hates obstruction" is a nonstarter.  The Republicans broke the filibuster record in 1993-94 and look what it got them.

If independents were solidly behind the health care bill then surely they'd dislike the Republicans for blocking it, but they aren't, so they don't.

But this brings us back to a lot of the old arguments about Obama's political style.  The proof will be in the results.  If we win an election or two because Republican opposition to Obama is perceived as unreasonable, then your theory will have borne out.

by Steve M 2009-12-16 01:10PM | 0 recs
We'll See

Public opinion polling has shown a pretty healthy majority in favour of health care reform in spite of eight months of incessant demonisation from Republicans.  Who are those voters?  Surely not all registered Democrats.  It seems to defy common sense that the Democratic legislature would shoulder the whole of the blame for this failure in the face of uniform derision and intransigence from Republicans.

But your point is well taken, I'm not prepared to place any wagers on this one.  I have a hunch we're screwed, frankly.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-16 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: We'll See

There is a clear disconnect between support for "reform" as an abstract concept and support for this particular bill - or any specific bill, really.

by Steve M 2009-12-16 02:10PM | 0 recs
Well, That's a Good Point

Even among the cognoscenti there seems to be a wide variety of opinion on what constitutes genuine reform.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-12-16 02:45PM | 0 recs

everybody wants reform, everyone has a different idea of what reform is.

During this whole debate, I heard things from very education people that made me want to slam my head against a wall until I was rendered unconscious.

Stuff like "I support a public option, I just don't think the government should be running it" and "We don't need government run healthcare, we need something like Medicare" and my personal favorite "I agree that insurance companies are a problem, but government involvement isn't the answer" Like, really, what IS the answer?

by ND22 2009-12-16 07:35PM | 0 recs


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