Fighting Back: Rep. John Lewis: “I will fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time.”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

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In a floor speech yesterday in opposition to the Republican Party’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) spoke of health care as a right not a privilege – and vowed to fight any repeal.

Rep. Lewis, rising:

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend for yielding. Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose this bill.

As elected representatives, we have a mission, an obligation, and a mandate to fight for each and every American. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, who will stand for the American people? Who will speak up for those who have been left out and left behind?

Mr. Speaker, I have said it time and time again — health care is a right. It is not a privilege reserved for a wealthy few. For what does it profit this body to pass this bill and lose our soul? This bill is a shame. It is a disgrace.

Mr. Speaker, today my heart breaks for the disabled, for women, for seniors, and working families. My heart aches for those who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. My heart mourns for innocent, little children whose very life depends on if their families can pay the bills. This is the right and wrong of it. This is the heart and soul of the matter. We cannot abandon our principles. Mr. Speaker, we cannot forget our values.

I have fought too hard and too long to back down now. I will fight any bill that turns the clock back to a darker time. I will fight every single attempt to turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, and a cold shoulder to the sick, to our seniors, and to working families. Mr. Speaker, I will fight every day, every hour, every minute, and every second. I will oppose this bill with every breath and every bone in my body.

We must not give up. We cannot – I will not — give in. Not today, not tomorrow, and never ever. On this bill, there is only one option – and that option is to vote NO. You can do better. Mr. Speaker, you must do better. Vote no on this bill!

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) delivered the Weekly Democratic Party Address

“Last summer, a foreign power intervened in our presidential election in an effort to influence the outcome on behalf of one of the candidates.

“That power was Russia, and the candidate was Donald J. Trump, now President of the United States. This is not a story made up to discredit Mr. Trump, but the consensus conclusion of the entire U.S. intelligence community.

“More ominously, the intelligence community has concluded Vladimir Putin ordered this meddling and will do it again.

“Congress launched an investigation into how the Russians intervened, how we must protect our democracy in the future, and whether persons affiliated with the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in this effort to undermine our democracy.

“During this week’s hearing, FBI Director Comey revealed for the first time that he is conducting an investigation into whether Trump campaign personnel coordinated their efforts with the Russians, or acted as agents of a foreign power.

“The FBI investigation began in July of last year, based on credible information or evidence to warrant that extraordinary step. That timing is significant.

“It was in July that Paul Manafort was Trump campaign manager, that Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page travelled to Moscow, that the Trump campaign intervened to defeat a provision in the Republican party platform hostile to Russian interests in Ukraine, and most significant, it was July when Russia began weaponizing the information it had stolen in an effort to attack Hillary Clinton.

“Congress should establish an independent commission that has the staff, resources and single-minded focus necessary to investigate this matter.

“Most important, as the events of this week demonstrate, an independent commission will be able to conduct its work insulated from any political interference.

“The President believes this investigation as an attempt to undermine his legitimacy or credibility. It is not. Only the President is capable of doing that, and regrettably, he is at great risk of doing so.

“During our hearing, Director Comey also testified that there was absolutely no basis for the President’s startling accusation that his predecessor had wiretapped him in Trump tower.

“This was revealed to be utter nonsense.

“When a President of the United States makes claims that are proved baseless, it weakens the Presidency and undermines our security and standing in the world.

“Presidential credibility, once squandered, may never be fully regained.

“If the President should one day assert that North Korea has placed a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile and action is necessary, it will be an enormous problem should that be untrue.

“If it is true, it may be an even bigger problem if the President has lost the capacity to persuade our allies of the facts, let alone the American people.

“Mr. President, I implore you, the country implores you, you have chosen two superb people to guide you, in General Mattis and General McMaster.

“Seek their counsel. Listen to what they have to say.

“And cherish the trust and hope that was placed in you by virtue of your office, by never again advancing claims that you know – or should know – are simply not true.

“Thank you.”


Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:

Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference

Leader Pelosi. Good morning, everyone. I was hoping that my grandson Thomas and his brother Paul could shadow me into this room today as they are shadowing me on the Hill. We have many young women from Spelman College also shadowing Members on the Hill today.

What a day for them to come because today marks seven years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. It was a great day for our country because the Affordable Care Act stands there strongly with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, as pillars of economic and health security for the American people.

This historic law made immense progress in expanding coverage and lowering costs for hard-working American families. Improving quality, the ACA instituted landmark protections for every American: no annual lifetime limits; no discriminating on a preexisting condition; children allowed to stay on their parent’s policy until 26 years old; no charging women more for health coverage, being a woman is no longer a preexisting medical condition; and it guaranteed coverage for essential health care, including maternity care, mental health, and addiction rehab.

More than 20 million people, previously uninsured Americans, now have health coverage. The percentage of uninsured Americans is at its lowest ever, a very important point. Since enactment of the ACA, health care costs have been increasing at the lowest rate in the 50 years that this measure has been taken. So it has lowered costs, improved quality, and expanded coverage.

Today, the Republicans are trying to push millions of hard-working American people off of their health coverage and to make health care more expensive for everyone else. Here’s what TrumpCare means for the American people:

Higher cost. TrumpCare forces families to pay higher premiums and deductibles, increasing out‑of‑pocket cost. Higher premiums. That’s a message of the Freedom Caucus, higher premiums, and they are right on that score. Less coverage. TrumpCare will take away health care from 24 million hard-working Americans. A crushing age tax. TrumpCare forces Americans age 50 to 64 to pay premiums five times higher than what others pay for health coverage no matter how healthy they are.

It steals from Medicare. TrumpCare shortens the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 3 years and ransacks those funds of Medicaid that seniors depend on to get the long‑term care they need, whether in a facility or to stay in their own homes.

It also affects people with disabilities or addiction, et cetera, especially meeting the needs of America’s children who need that assistance.

As bad as TrumpCare was, Republicans have been up all night trying to make it worse. They are scrambling to find a bill that they can pass on the floor. I don’t know if you want to call this, on Trump’s part, a rookie’s error, but you don’t find a day and say ‘we’re going to pass a bill.’ You build your consensus in your caucus, and when you’re ready, you set the date to bring it to the floor.

But so eager were they to, I don’t know, to be mean‑spirited, to say we are going to bring up this bill on the same day as the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, rookie’s error, Donald Trump. You may be a great negotiator. Rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready.

And how are they moving to get ready? Here’s how they’re moving. Now we hear Republicans are planning changes to destroy the protections of more than 155 million Americans who get coverage through their employers, eliminating essential health benefits.

You’ve probably seen – I don’t have it here – but essential health benefits that were something we’re very proud of in the Affordable Care Act, I’ll just say that the essential health benefits means Republicans are making being a woman a preexisting condition again. Stripping guaranteed maternity care is a pregnancy tax, pure and simple. Stripping guaranteed maternity care is a pregnancy tax, pure and simple. Pure and simple.

Worsening the addiction epidemic and making it harder to access mental health care, making it more expensive to be sick in America, well, that’s their goal, to Make America Sick Again. Speaker Ryan has called this bill an act of mercy. An act of mercy. There is no mercy here. TrumpCare is a moral monstrosity that will devastate seniors and hard-working Americans.

I talked about what they had been talking about in the essential health benefits. Now, in order to get votes on the far, far right, they are looking at other items, including at Title I in the Affordable Care Act. You probably have this list. These are some of the things we are very proud of that are in the Affordable Care Act that they are now looking at. This will all hurt America’s working families.

And it’s a remarkable thing. It’s clear that this is not a health care bill. This is a tax bill. This is once again Republicans never missing an opportunity to give a tax break to the high end. This is about the biggest transfer of wealth from working class families and those who aspire to the middle class to the richest people in America.

It’s amazing. More than $600 billion transferred upward at the expense of working families. Ironically, some of these families are people who voted for Trump. In some areas, 57 percent of the people who voted for Trump are on the Affordable Care Act. That will be taken away from them, those red areas. That money will probably go with blue areas. Interesting, isn’t it? All terrible.

So in any case, I’ve told the Republicans, and we worked for several hours in the Rules Committee last night, Republicans vote to destroy health care coverage, especially in this brutal form, well, that vote is going to be tattooed to their heads. They can’t say, “Donald Trump made me do it.” He’s not their boss. Their constituents are their bosses. And this vote, as I say, will be their tattoo.

As you know, yesterday, in another diversionary tactic, the Deflector-in-Chief created some kind of a scenario where he either duped or the Chairman of the committee was a willing stooge, he committed a stunt with the White House yesterday raising questions about Chairman Nunes’ impartiality, especially given his history as a part of the Trump transition team.

The Republicans are grasping at straws after their embarrassing performance on Monday, a place where FBI Director Comey confirmed that President Obama did not wiretap President Trump, affirmed an FBI investigation to links and coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign and into whether there was any coordination or connection between the campaign and Russia’s effort to undermine America’s election.

The necessity of an independent investigation is increasingly being recognized. I think that when Chairman Nunes acted the way he did, outside the circle of respect for his committee and his Members and his Ranking Member, outside the circle of just, again, respect for the responsibility that he has as chairman of the Intelligence Committee by being a stooge for the President of the United States, going to him, going to the Speaker, and going to the press before he even went to the Ranking Member of the committee, I think he has demonstrated very clearly that there is no way there can be an impartial investigation under his leadership on that committee. It speaks very clearly to the need for an outside independent commission. As Senator McCain said, no longer does Congress have the credibility to handle this one.

Chairman Nunes is deeply compromised and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. As I said, Congress must create a comprehensive independent bipartisan commission to expose the full truth about the Trump‑Russia connection. I’ve said it over and over again: What is it that the Russians have on President Trump, politically, personally, or financially, that they would go to such lengths, such lengths to hide these connections? What are the Republicans afraid of? The truth and an investigation?

And it’s very serious because this has an impact on our national security. When a President‑elect comes into office and flirts with the idea of lifting sanctions on Russia, questions the new START Treaty, praises Putin as some kind of I don’t know what and compares him favorably at the expense of the United States of America, it’s a remarkable thing.

And now – I’m not going to go into it because it’s all unfolding – but we see further connections between his campaign chairman and money connections to Russia and to Russian sympathizers in the Ukraine.

As you probably now, Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer who was to be a key witness in U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s Russia probe, he fell four stories. This week he fell from a four‑story building. He’s injured very seriously. And then Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian Member of Parliament, was killed in the city center of Kiev. He was to testify in the trial of the former pro‑Russian Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

So it’s a stunning set of facts that need to be reviewed for our national security, for the security of our nation, for the security of our democracy, and this needs to go outside.

With that, I’d be pleased to take any questions you may have.

Press questioning followed (see transcript)




  1. The RepubliCareNOT bill was pulled when it was obvious that it would go down in defeat.

    Democratic House leadership reaction:

    Nancy Pelosi:

    “Good afternoon. I’m very proud to be here with the House Democratic Leadership. The unity of our House Democratic Members was a very important message to the country, that we are very proud of the Affordable Care Act. Yesterday, as you know, was the 7-year Anniversary of the President signing the bill. And the American people expressed their support for it. That message became very clear to our colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle.

    “Today is a great day for our country. It’s a victory. What happened on the Floor is a victory for the American people – for our seniors, for people with disabilities, for our children, for our veterans. Also, it’s not just about the 24 million people who now won’t be off of health insurance, it’s about the 155 million people who received their health benefits in the workplace, who will not be assaulted by some of the provisions that the Republicans put in the bill, especially last night when they removed the essential benefits package.

    “So again, this is pretty – it’s pretty exciting for us. Yesterday, our anniversary, today, a victory for the Affordable Care Act, more importantly, for the American people.

    “Tomorrow is the 51st Anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. saying in a speech that Mr. Clyburn quotes often to us, that ‘Of all of the forms of inequality, inequality in health care is probably the most inhumane and can sometimes lead to death.’ That was the spirit in which we came into this debate, honoring the vows of our founders of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A healthy life, the liberty to pursue our happiness.

    “So, it’s about our country and the vision of our founders, it’s about our faith and it’s about the unity of the Democrats, united by our values.

  2. In the News: Senate Democrats planning to filibuster Republican SCOTUS nominee …

    Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer

    Schumer sets up showdown

    In a speech on the Senate floor, Chuck Schumer said Gorsuch “will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation,” setting up a showdown with Republican leaders who may attempt to change Senate rules.

    If Gorsuch “cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules,” Schumer said. “It’s to change the nominee.”

    Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): “Why I Cannot Support Judge Gorsuch

    The stakes don’t get any higher. Some argue that if a nominee has a stellar legal resume, he or she is qualified to sit on the bench and our job is done. I disagree. As U.S. senators, we have an obligation to also examine a nominee’s legal approach and ask whether he or she considers the impact of those decisions on our society and the daily lives of our people.

    President Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, certainly has a paper resume that would impress legal scholars. But his rulings repeatedly have failed to achieve justice for all Americans.

    So far a third of Democratic Senators have came out against the nomination:

    To date, 16 of the 48 Democratic senators have publicly backed their leader, Chuck Schumer, who said on Thursday he opposes confirming appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch. Others have yet to announce their intentions.

    Gorsuch is headed toward a Senate Judiciary Committee vote, likely on April 3, on his nomination to the high court after a marathon four-day confirmation hearing this week.

    After that, it is not yet clear how much of a fight Democrats will put up when the nomination is due for a final vote in the 100-member Senate, where there are 52 Republicans. […]

    Senate rules enable Democrats to insist on 60 votes to overcome a procedural move called a filibuster to allow a final up-or-down vote on confirming Gorsuch, 49, to the lifetime job on the nation’s highest court.

    But the Senate’s Republican leadership could adopt a rule change allowing a vote that would only require a simple majority of the chamber

    Chuck Grassley, who refused to even have a hearing for President Obama’s nominee Judge Merrick Garland NOW wants Senate comity:

    [Sen. Grassley] encouraged a return to “normalcy,” which he described as “dispassionate regard to making a decision on people for the Supreme Court.” Grassley said earlier this week that he hopes to hold a committee vote on the nomination next Monday.

    I hope that the Senate holds firm. There can never be a “normal” until Merrick Garland gets his hearing and an up-or-down vote. The well has been poisoned.

  3. From the Democratic Party Wing of the Democratic Party … unity matters:

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s skill at keeping Democrats unified was a key factor in the failure of Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Despite a caucus representing districts across the country with differing priorities and interests, no Democrats crossed the line to give the Republican assault on health care a helping hand.

    Even before the Congressional Budget Office determined that “Trumpcare” would strip 24 million Americans of health insurance, Democrats had made clear that they would not be voting for the bill. As a result, all of the votes in favor of passage would have to be found within the Republican Party. […]

    Pelosi has long demonstrated her skill at keeping her party members together, providing key votes for former Speaker John Boehner to raise the debt ceiling when his own party pushed the country close to default. When Democrats had a majority in the House from 2006 to 2010, as House Speaker, Pelosi shepherded the passage of key legislation, including the aforementioned Affordable Care Act, as well as the economic stimulus that was so vital in moving America from recession to recovery.

    Trumpcare was dangerous and unpopular, but Republicans have overcome those types of obstacles before to pass harmful legislation. What they could not overcome was Pelosi’s keen ability to keep Democrats in line, squeezing Republicans to move from obstruction to governing. They failed, miserably.

    The resistance – the Womens March, Moral Mondays and their offshoots – filled the townhalls and peppered Republicans with phone calls and faxes and letters. But it all boils down to the votes in Congress. With strong leadership, and people like John Lewis providing the inspiration, we force the fractured Republican caucus to find votes for their damaging bills – and find voters in 2018 when they return to their home districts to answer the question: “why are you voting to take away my health care?”

  4. In the News: Gorsuch vote set for April 3rd …

    The argument of SCOTUS watchers claiming that the Democrats need to “keep their powder dry” and save the filibuster for a REALLY BAD nominee, is nonsensical. Nina Totenberg at NPR is the latest one finger wagging at the Democrats:

    The majority party can change the rules with a majority vote, and thereafter, it will only take 51 senators to move to an up-or-down vote on a Supreme Court nomination. Gorsuch would sail through with at least the 52 Republican Senators voting for him, and the filibuster option would be gone. If there is a political Armageddon, the Democrats would have disarmed themselves—wasting a fight over the filibuster on a nominee who already seems to be guaranteed confirmation.

    The argument goes like this:
    1. If the Democrats filibuster Gorsuch, Republicans will remove the filibuster for SCOTUS and Gorsuch gets in because all Republicans will vote for him (plus probably a few Democrats). The filibuster is gone, forever!!
    2. So Democrats should not block the vote for the “not that bad” nominee and keep their powder dry, trusting that the filibuster is there as protection.
    3. When a “really bad” nominee comes up, then they can filibuster.

    First, the hyper-partisanship in the country right now guarantees that there will never be agreement on what a “really bad” nominee looks like. Most liberals think that Neil Gorsuch, a guy who puts corporations above people, does not respect the rights of women and minorities – and who has no beating heart – is “really bad”.

    Second, even if there is a more offensive nominee than Neil Gorsuch (something I don’t doubt!), if he or she is the nominee of the Republican president they will be supported by the Republican majority – what’s to say that the filibuster won’t be nuked if Democrats resist that one? Quick answer, there is no guarantee.

    So let’s end the suspense. If there is now a defacto majority vote for SCOTUS, let’s find out now, in 2017, and not keep our powder dry only to find out that there was a hole in the bottom of our powder keg and the powder leaked out and is gone.

    • Here is another one, Rick Hasen, whose is essential reading for court watchers.

      Democrats hold a pair of twos. They don’t have much they can do. Triggering a fight over the filibuster will gain attention, but Democrats can only do it once. The Gorsuch nomination restores the balance of power on the Court to the position it was in before Justice Scalia’s death.

      Imagine if in a year or so Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, or Kennedy leave the Court. Then things get MUCH worse from the point of view of progressives. Then Roberts becomes the swing voter and there goes affirmative action, abortion rights, etc. If you think things with the Supreme Court are bad for progressive now they can get much, much worse.

      Better to save the firepower for that fight. It is possible that Senators like Susan Collins would be squeamish about such a nominee, and they might not vote to go nuclear. At that point, people can take to the streets and exert public pressure. At that point, the left will perhaps realize what they lost when they lost the 2016 election and how bad things will be.

      Professor Hasen assumes that we have enough “firepower” to do it once. I see his point about the possibility that something would make Susan Collins “squeamish” but to rest the future of the Supreme Court that she would do what she has never done, defy Republican leadership, seem ill-advised.

      If you pull the trigger next year and find that the chamber is empty, you are going to be sad that all you can do is throw the gun at the person who will destroy the rule of law and democratic elections (which Hasen agrees is a strong possibility). Let’s find out now.

    • Bob Bauer, from his blog, states that the term “deference” is quaint considering the power play that Republicans made – and won – to get their nominee:

      Surprise is expressed that a nominee so well-respected and “mainstream” as Judge Merrick Garland would be denied a hearing or vote. And, yes, this move was one of a kind, a disturbing development in Supreme Court power politics: But it was not unpredictable. For Republicans, even a modestly unfavorable shift in the Court after the passing of Scalia was worth fighting. The chances that they would do still better with victory in November was a bet they were fully prepared to make, and they are now trying to collect on it.

      The failure to face up to or acknowledge the fact that Supreme Court nominees are not like any other has meant nominations and confirmations processes that too often ring false notes from beginning to end. The race is on to attack or defend a nomination with reference to a supposed “mainstream,” and the question is whether the nominee falls well outside, or comfortably inside, of it. It is not enough that the nomination would create a conservative or progressive majority, and that either one party or the other, and the electorate to which it answers, will come away with a big win or a big loss–and with consequences to last for many years. The nominee has to be categorized as a dangerous left-wing lunatic, or a cold-hearted right-wing robot; and the nominee tries to keep out of the line of fire by professing to have no ideologically tinged views and, by golly, to be only interested in calling them as he or she sees them. […]

      Being realistic about what is involved in these fights, which means abandoning the fantasy that a Supreme Court nominee is like any other presidential nomination to which deference is due, would be refreshing and a small step in the right direction.

    • Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick interviewing Ron Klain: The Democrats Must Filibuster Neil Gorsuch

      Ronald Klain, who served as senior White House aide to presidents Clinton and Obama and assisted in shepherding the last four Democratic-appointed justices through the Supreme Court confirmation process, believes that Senate Democrats are right to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination. On this week’s episode of Slate’s Supreme Court podcast Amicus, Klain told Dahlia Lithwick why it’s “time to draw the line in the sand.” (Klain’s answer has been condensed and edited.)

      First of all, I think Justice Kennedy may well leave this summer, and I think that we’re talking about perhaps two nominees this year.

      The idea that we would not filibuster Judge Gorsuch because Mitch McConnell is threatening to take our right to filibuster away, and save it for the next nominee, when Mitch McConnell will surely take our filibuster rights away—I just don’t see what we get out of abstaining in that circumstance. You know, this is a little bit like Charlie Brown and the football.[…]

      The only argument against filibustering Judge Gorsuch is, if you really believed that when Justice Kennedy retired and we wanted to filibuster that nominee that because we failed to filibuster Judge Gorsuch, Mitch McConnell would for some reason not go nuclear on the court-bending choice of Justice Kennedy’s replacement. And I don’t see any reason to believe that.

    • Joan Walsh wants to put the whole thing on hold until the FBI investigation is done:

      A growing number of Senate Democrats want to pause confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch while the FBI probes alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere with the 2016 election. […]

      [Some Senate Democrats] are now vowing to block Gorsuch, in the wake of the FBI’s Monday confirmation that the Trump campaign is under investigation for possible ties to Russia. “You can bet that if the shoe was on the other foot—and a Democratic President was under investigation by the FBI—that Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances,” Schumer said in a statement. “After all, they stopped a president who wasn’t under investigation from filling a seat with nearly a year left in his presidency.” […]

      The combination of McConnell’s blocking Garland, and his refusal to participate in warning about evidence that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic campaign e-mails, shows that he was on high alert throughout 2016 to fulfill his ultimate goal: defeating Hillary Clinton and snatching back the empty SCOTUS seat from Democrats. […]

      Congressional Democrats should argue that a compromised president should not be able to appoint a Supreme Court justice who might sit on that bench for 40 years. Especially since McConnell blocked the moderate Merrick Garland, age 64 to Gorsuch’s 49, who was chosen by Obama specifically to win GOP support. It didn’t work. Republicans argued last year that “eight is enough” on the Supreme Court (some even threatened to keep Clinton from making a pick for the coming four years). Democrats should officially agree, for now.

  5. Scott Lemiux at LGM points out that the Senate Democratic coalition that passed the Affordable Care Act in December 2009 was a veritable “rogue’s gallery” of disparate interests. But they came together to pass a law that has – now – endured for 7 years and survived a Unified Republican Government’s attempt to kill it:

    It is ever more remarkable, in retrospect, that much of the discussion on the left following the passage of the ACA consisted of complaints about how Obama/Pelosi/Reid could “only” pass the ACA. This is, on one level, understandable, given that the ACA is unmistakably inferior to the baseline established by other liberal democracies. But this collection names should make clear than when evaluating the work of the Democratic leadership this baseline is irrelevant. The question is not why Obama/Pelosi/Reid couldn’t nationalize the American health insurance industry. The question is how they were able to get this rogue’s gallery — each and every one of whom had a veto — to agree to the most important progressive social welfare legislation passed since the Johnson administration. […]

    The coalition that passed the ACA included three senators from the Dakotas, one each from Indiana and Arkansas, and two each from Montana and West Virginia. Glib “BE MORE LIBERAL!” exhortations don’t really help you to get liberal governing majorities in an institution that heavily favors conservative rural interests.

    Comprehensive health care reform is brutally hard, as Truman and Johnson and Clinton can tell you. In addition getting the list of legislators above, the Democrats also needed to keep in the fold every liberal who was well aware that the ACA was substantially suboptimal. […]

    The Republicans just completely failed with a more homogeneous coalition in the more top-down chamber. What the Democratic leadership pulled off in 2009 is remarkable, and we now know that it is an enduring accomplishment.

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