April 29th, 2009
09:00 PM ET
14 years ago

A filibuster-proof majority - not a lock

(CNN) - President Obama said Thursday evening that he was under "no illusions" that he now has a "rubber stamp" in the Senate for his policy agenda just because Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter had switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Assuming Democrat Al Franken is finally declared the winner in the Minnesota Senate race, Specter's decision to leave the GOP would appear to give Obama the 60th vote needed to help him overcome Republican-led filibusters. But as the president noted, it is not just Specter who he needs to lobby to support his legislative goals, but also a handful of Democrats who might not always agree with him.

Obama didn't name any names, but it is safe to assume that he means the handful of centrist Democrats who hail from the South and from Middle America. Keep an eye on Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, all of whom could wield considerable influence in this Congress.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Mike

    Its amazing to me that people don't see the destruction of entire segments of a trillion dollar industry by the move to a public health plan. No before people scream I'm not a health insurer executive. I'm a small health insurance broker who will be phased out with about 100,000 other insurance brokers that spend their days helping ensure claims are processed properly for clients, doctors do what they're supposed to when it comes to billing and negotiate premium rates to keep costs in line as much as possible. Oh wait i'll bet when the public plan is in place people actually believe all claims will be processed correctly right? Because the government never makes a mistake, ya right! Not to mention doctors going out of business becuase they can't afford the medicare reimbursement levels from all their patients. Do people not realize that a main reason healthcare costs increase is because hosptials and doctor groups must require additional from insurance companies due ot reduced medicare reimbursement levels? Where will this money come from President Obama? Oh and when the pandemic is going on years from now that is worse than the swine flu how will it be handled when there's not enough medical resources due to rationing???

    Why not give the Massachussets model a try?

    Oh and do people not realize that a portion, not all but a portion of the uninsured are uninsured for a reason? Young people don't want to pay for coverage becuase they feel its a waste. They'd rather spend it on a car, or an IPOD or whatever else. Health insurance should be a requirement to spread the risk around.

    April 29, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. bill

    In addition, there's Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the democrats, may decide to cause some problems by jumping ship at an inopertune moment.

    April 29, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  3. SFC Ret. Raymond Thibault

    My fellow Americans. Read the Constitution. Congress works for us. E-mail make a fuss make them earn their money. Partisan Business as usual needs to be eliminated. Put them on notice.

    April 29, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  4. Tommy

    I don't understand your argument, Mike. There is simply one more competitor in the market – the Government.

    If capitalism is all its cracked up to be, the existing players will simply have to innovate to compete with the Government's health care offerings – and some may already beat what the government has to offer. Having an additional option on the table for consumers will help the industry by increasing the transparency surrounding the health insurance premium/risk/cost relationships that are at the core of America's health insurance woes.

    April 29, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  5. Thomas, South Georgia

    Term Limits are needed for the future of this Nation.

    April 29, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  6. Pam

    Great item to discuss. I'm glad to hear that Spector was forthright in his statements that his votes will not be rubber stamps. As a patriot, one who loves this country, and served in the U. S. Navy for 23 years, I do not want a Congress on EITHER side who 'rubber stamps'. I want reasoned and well discussed decisions, that address what the real issues are. I want Congressmen and Congresswomen who will vote for what they believe is 'right' ALL information considered. The problems we have now in Congress are, in part, the result of such strong ideological/partisianship positions that they don't leave room for 'new information'. THAT kind of thinking is dangerous and in my opinion, led to some of the problems we now have. I'm officially a Democrat, but a Centrist. I have never voted party ticket, and do not support 'hard right' OR 'hard left'. I welcome input/ideas that are contributions from BOTH sides. THAT is what this wonderful country is founded on.

    April 29, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  7. Mike


    I appreciate you not blasting me like many for my views. The reason private insurance can't compete is that if reimbursement levels for the public plan are not regulated to match what all insurance companies pay the cost structures will put the private insurers at a disadvantage. If for example a public plan pays $50 for an office visit but a private insurer can't negotiate better than a $100 cost for the same visit eventually the private insurance plan's costs will increase at a greater rate than the public plan and the private insurance plan will lose enrollment until it goes away, OR if all private insurance companies would be allowed to pay what medicare reimburses (which would likely match what a public plan would pay it could possibly work but again if everyone paid medicare rates doctors would revolt. Do you realize that medicare reimbursement is 20-30% less than what private insurers can negotiate because medicare is a single payer system for those over 65 and there is no competition in that market? Also private insurers are forced to compete for market share and advertise. When was the last time anyone saw an advertisement for medicare as compared to an advertisement for Blue Cross or Aetna for example?

    Again I'm not defending insurance companies and there is plenty they do that is wrong including not covering things like autism treatment and some other things they consider still experimental long after they aren't, but not enough is being said abou them that pre-existing conditions should be gone and most insurance companies are willing to do that as long as it also comes with requiring all americans to be covered so the risk is spread to all. As I said before I'm a small insurance broker that sells to small companies and most every client I have their 25-35 year olds that are single waive coverage due to any cost, even $20 per paycheck. They'd rather spend it elsewhere.

    April 29, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  8. better chance at a healty U.S. than without it

    if the GOP is given a chance, the govt. will come to a standstill

    so as much as I don't think filibuster proof is a good idea, the alternative of the GOP being able to stop on their whims is a darker choice that will lead to nothing done

    April 29, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. Michael Arnaud

    With the majority in the House that the Democrats have,and now in the Senate, nobody really needs to worry about Obama. It's Pelosi and Reid. The Democrats now have a veto proof Congress. It doesn't matter what Obama wants to do or not. If Pelosi and Reid want it, it's going to happen whether Obama likes it or not.

    Another reason why we need more parties at the national level. No one party was supposed to have this much power. The Congressional Democrats talk a good line about the best interests of the country. With what happened during Bush's first term in the Republican controlled Congress, the Democrats are out for revenge.

    The more parties involved, the easier it would be to stop this cycle of vengance that happens when either the Democrats or Republicans take control of Congress. Get ready for socialism America. With this much power, watch for the Democrats to take control of everything. God help the United States.

    April 29, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |