Scott Brown has just defeated Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race by what looks like a 51.8-47.2 margin. (That's only 0.6 points away from Nick's estimate of a 4 point Brown win.) A week ago I was worried that an outcome like this would be the end of health care reform. It isn't.
Passing a bill is still totally within the power of House Democrats. They just need to pass the Senate bill, and then make whatever further changes they want through the budget reconciliation process, which requires only 50 votes in the Senate. Most of the changes they want, like the increases in subsidies for poor people to get coverage, are things that can be achieved through reconciliation. There's no need for them to be affected by a Senate defeat in the one state that is the least positively affected by health care reform. Massachusetts passed its own universal health care bill several years ago, and Scott Brown actually announced himself in this election as a supporter of the Massachusetts health care reform, despite opposing the legislation currently before Congress. So taking this as some kind of referendum on health care is really silly.
Nancy Pelosi blocked Social Security privatization in early 2005, just after Bush got re-elected and our friends were talking about moving to Canada. If anybody can get people to vote the right way when things look dark, it's her. And what's she saying tonight? "We're right on course, and we will have a health care reform bill." She's passed a health care bill once, and once the freakout associated with this news cycle ends, she'll be able to do it again.
You can help. If you haven't done it yet, it's time to call your Congresscritters and tell them that yes, you still want health care reform to go through. Everything is in their hands now. Calls to vulnerable Democrats in conservative districts are the most valuable, of course, but making your feelings known to Democrats in more liberal districts is great too, as it may embolden them to be more vocal in support of the legislation during crazy times. Just put your Zip+4 into the box at the upper left of the House of Representatives site, and you'll be directed to your Congressman's page where you can get the phone number.