Blanche Lincoln

The Reviving Influence Of Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton has had his ups and downs in political influence since he left office nine and a half years ago.

Often seen as a burden on his wife, Hillary Clinton, during her run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008, his stature has risen since she became Secretary of State!

He scored a great public relations victory when he fought against the labor unions and in the Arkansas Senatorial primary, being a strong supporter of moderate to conservative Senator Blanche Lincoln.

Now that he has triumphed on that front, the former President is attempting to influence the Nevada Senate race, promoting the reelection of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid!

The nomination of Sharron Angle, backed by the Tea Party activists, and holding weird views on many issues, should make the Reid reelection effort a whole lot easier! But it cannot hurt to have Bill Clinton on your side, and Harry Reid is happy to have his strong support!

Arkansas Primary Results Disillusioning But Also Important Statement About Democratic Party!

The defeat of Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter by Senator Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas yesterday is disillusioning to liberals and progressives, but also an important statement about the Democratic Party nationally!

While labor unions and progressive organizations such as spent a lot of money trying to defeat Lincoln as too conservative, her narrow victory leads to two conclusions!

First, since Arkansas is basically more conservative than much of the nation, Lincoln has a better chance of defeating her Republican challenger for the seat, Congressman John Boozman. It will not be easy, so under the circumstances, her seniority and experience and the fact that no one considers her a liberal, should help her.

Secondly, the nomination of Lincoln demonstrates that the Democratic Party is one that has a “big tent”, and can contain within itself liberals, moderates, and even some conservatives. That is more than the Republican Party can claim, as it becomes more right wing and extremist by the day! 🙁

The Democrats Who Stand In The Way Of Health Care Reform

As things now stand, the health care legislation being debated in the Senate has four Democrats preventing a real reform package, and we could call them the “N and Three L’s”–Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and Blanche Lincoln of Nebraska.

Without these four votes for the “public option”, the only way conceivable that the Democrats can overcome a filibuster is to utilize “reconciliation”, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would prefer to avoid, but can use if necessary, just as it was under the GOP control of the Senate during the Bush Administration.

This means 51 votes, or even 50 plus the Vice President, would be enough to accomplish health care reform. This has been broached before by myself and others, and certainly is not preferable, but we have reached a point where we cannot allow a few rebellious Democrats to block necessary reform that has never reached this stage legislatively.

To allow health care reform to fail at this point would be a tragedy on the level of the Afghan War escalation about to begin! 🙁

The Senate Health Care Debate Begins!

With the courageous decision of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln to support the beginning of debate on health care, the Democrats have succeeded in keeping their party caucus united, including independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders.

Now a long period of weeks of debate begins, and there are many torturous steps to go before a final vote, including the debate over abortion and over the “public option”. Votes in the Democratic caucus will be lost on these issues, including Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Landrieu and Lincoln among others.

So the question is whether it will be possible to pass a substantial health care bill without causing a filibuster. Since that seems unlikely, the concept of “reconciliation”, requiring only 51 votes to pass legislation, may have to be put into play.

While it would be preferable to avoid “reconciliation”, the likelihood is that it will have to be utilized in order to bring about the most significant legislation since 1965 when Medicare passed into law.

Senate Democrats And Health Care: Major Lack Of Courage By Some

As the Senate is about to begin debate on the health care bill, the Democrats are divided on the public option and on the abortion issue.

Already, independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has said he will block any bill with a public option.

But it is not just Joe Lieberman who presents a problem. There are also the difficulties that moderate Democrats have with the legislation, and the danger that a few of them will block any action on health care.

These include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska in particular. But what many do not understand is that their home states are among the poorest in the country, particularly the states of the two women senators, and there is such a dire need for a public option, and yet all three seem reluctant to do what is best for their states.

Basically, they all lack the courage to do what is right, and that is very disturbing, as the failure to bring about health care reform, if that occurs, will do great harm to the Democratic party in Congress, and also to President Obama, as this is his biggest issue, and it requires success for him to be in a strong position for 2010 and beyond!

Time For Use Of “Reconciliation” To Enact Health Care Reform

The tactic of “reconciliation”, requiring only 50 votes if the Vice President breaks the tie, or 51 votes majority in the Senate to enact legislation, is ready to be utilized if the conservative Democrats, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Max Baucus of Montana, refuse to be loyal to their party and complicate the passage by not cooperating to overcome a filibuster.

The “reconciliation” tactic has been used before, as for instance to enact the two Bush tax cuts, so there is no reason why it cannot be used now to bring about the most important legislation in at least a generation.

Statements by Senator Nelson and Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that such a tactic would be wrong is pure hypocrisy, and it is time to make it clear to both the GOP and the conservative Democrats that the party will ignore them and pass legislation over their heads if they refuse to cooperate!