Howard Dean seems to be sick of Democrats’ bipartisan attitude.
In sharply worded comments Tuesday night following the loss of former Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) Senate seat, the former chairman of the Democratic Party asserted that party leaders needed to bypass their quest for sixty Senate votes.
“We’ve got to be tougher,” Dean quipped. “I’ve said the Democrats are not tough enough. Bush would have had the health care bill done a long time ago. He would have gone through reconciliation.”
Under reconciliation, Democrats can move to pass parts of their healthcare reform bill with a simple fifty vote majority, evading the need for a 60-vote filibuster-proof supermajority. Liberals lost their sixtieth vote with the defeat of state attorney general Martha Coakley in Massachusetts to Republican Scott Brown.
Brown has promised to vote against a healthcare reform bill. The bill has passed both chambers of Congress but would need to pass both again after the House and Senate versions are combined.
Some Democrats have proposed a House-only vote on the Senate’s version of the bill, which would obviate the need for it to pass the Senate again. But House Democratic leadership seems reluctant to take up the idea anytime soon.
Dean says Obama should start by simply proposing a bill that allows all Americans over 55 to buy into Medicare. Such a bill could be passed through the Senate with 50 votes, a margin the Democrats can easily muster.
There’s not much “real” reform in the Senate bill either way, Dean said.
The former top Democrat added that he believed it would have been better had Democrats only had 59 votes from the start, since it would have forced his party to make tougher choices and push the bill through reconciliation in the first place.
“I think we would have been better off if we had had 59 senators to start with,” Dean remarked.
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Jan. 19, 2010.