Martha Coakley was almost a shoe in , the Democrat candidate in the By Election for Ted Kennedy‘s open seat after he had sadly succumbed to his cancer. However for some unfathomable reason, she antagonised Massachusetts voters. She insulted Boston Red Sox fans by scorning handshakes outside Fenway Park. The faux pas created a seismic shift in the power of the parties within the senate giving Republicans 41 votes, enough to stop the health bill in the upcoming vote.
All of a sudden two things would become integral, Legislative manoeuvres to get the house to pass the Senate Bill, and the role of the Pro-Life lobby.
The only way was for the House to pass hated Provisions in the Senate bill that would never be supported by House Democrats. This could be immensely Costly to Nancy Pelosi who had to consider her re-elections in the Mid Terms. She knew it was more than likely going to be harmful. Some Big Hitters were considering a Piecemeal approach. But Pelosi was not for backing down.
Pelosi came up with an Ingenious plan, Special bills that saved the Government money could be passed by 51 Senate Democrats, so a number of the objections were taken out of the Bill and placed on a list. If fifty one people agree to pass those provisions on a signed document, the Bill would pass.
Harry Reid promised the letter with fifty one names on it pledging to pass the thornier elements, but they would remain anonymous. The letter was never made public, but taken on faith the group agreed.
Obama took the fight right to the Republicans and appeared in a televised speech at the Republican Party Retreat. Retreat leaders walked him in but body language made it clear they were exceptionally uncomfortable to have him in their midst.
Frank Luntz , the author of the “Government Takeover” sound bite cited in my last blog that had so severely damaged the early attempts to pass the bill was called out. The President read him accurately and turned his Taking notes about how to respond the President’s Speech to show the way that Partisan point scoring had overtaken good policy development.
Two hundred and Eighteen House Democrats were needed to pass the bill Bart Stupak was against abortions and led a small group of pro lifers who agreed that all government funding should be banned from Abortions.
Obama had categorically stated at the very outset that no government dollars would be used for this, but they had hoped to keep abortion completely out of the health debate. The Republicans were more than happy to join the fight. John Boehmer was at pains to speak about his Eleven Siblings at meetings. Bart Stupak had penned an Amendment to the bill that effectively would stop private abortion coverage even if not funded within the terms of the bill. Obama's advisors knew he Needed to be seen to accommodate the concerns of the pro life contingent.
Obama was convinced to meet the head of the Catholic Health Association, Sister Carol, who was ultimately convinced by the President on his intent for the bill and agreed to help and began talks with the Catholic Priests represented by Cardinal Francis George to broker a deal that would help the bill be passed.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops were not so moveable, meeting with Archbishop she had wanted a joint letter uniting the church behind the bill. Help the Poor, George deliberately delayed so the letter did not get to her.Then a tiny column in A church periodical caused a massive furore.
The media played nuns of the CHA (who had empirical experience of the problems in healthcare provision and who were on the sharp end when it came to measurable assistance) against Priests whose lofty Proclamations seemed archaic to all other than committed Catholics ,creating an artificial rift in the church and making it untenable for Bart Stupak who supported the bill as a democrat and knew that the Bishops ultimatum that he veto the bill entirely would leave him out in the cold meaning he would have no health bill or a guarantee on life issues. His coalition had dwindled to six souls
On vote day John Boehner declared the coming of Armageddon, that passing the bill would destroy the country. The Bill passed with 220 votes. Obama states it was the proudest day of his life, surpassing even the day of his election, saying that you seek Public Office for what you can DO with it, not for it’s own sake.
The Backlash from the Galvanised Tea Party element of the Republican Party meant a drastic shift in the House of Representatives and the resulting Gridlock on many issues has proven massively damaging to the Democrats ability to actually get a lot done.
The “cross hairs” advert advocated by Tea apart Stalwart Sarah Palin, that put Gabby Giffords and other Democrats in the” firing line” from Tea Party candidates proved Darkly Portentous .
Three days after John Boehner took up his oversized Gavel as Speaker in Congress,Gabby Giffords was shot in the head, losing mobility and much of her speech and Six other people tragically died.
Since then Republicans have tried six times to repeal “Obamacare”