PTDB calls reaching Capitol Hill

PTDB CALLS REACHING CAPITOL HILL…. For those who haven’t seen his post yet, Mark Kleiman called his senator today with a “pass the damn bill” message, and had an interesting exchange.

Despite an initial tendency in Blue Blogistan to debate whether the recent reverses should be blamed on (1) progressives (2) centrists or (3) Barack Obama, a healthy consensus seems to be developing that we should (1) blame the Republicans and (2) do something about it, namely demand that our legislators Pass the Damned Bill. That would mean having the House pass the Senate bill under assurances that various points of dispute will be resolved satisfactorily to the House under the budget reconciliation process.

Today I called the Washington office of Sen. Diane Feinstein. (I’m reliably told that, for those without the time to make a personal visit either to Washington or to the local office of a legislator, faxes are best, calls second-best, and emails nowhere. Snailmail is effective — more effective if handwritten — but now very slow due to screening. There’s a logic to this: the more effort a communication takes, the more impressive it is.)

The polite young man who answered the phone said that he could take a comment about a legislative matter, listened politely to about three polite sentences of Pass the Damned Bill and an expression of displeasure about DiFi’s “slow down” comment, assured me that the Senator had voted for the bill and was eager to see it pass — and then gave me the first ray of sunshine I’ve seen since the catastrophe in Massachusetts. He said that they’d been getting a lot of Pass the Damned Bill phone calls and wanted to know whether my call was part of an organized effort. [emphasis added]

I was curious to see whether, in the wake of last week’s developments, reform advocates just threw up their arms in disgust and walked away. If Kleiman’s experience is in any way similar to the norm, it suggests proponents are still willing to put some effort into making reform a reality.

I’m also curious to see whether there’s a cumulative effect to all of this. Since, say, Wednesday or Thursday, Democratic policymakers have been urged to finish the deal by leading reform advocates, major union leaders, health care policy experts, and the nation’s most influential progressive pundits, all of whom emphasized the exact same thing, giving Dems the exact same advice.

But at the end of the day, lawmakers are probably more likely to be influenced by their own constituents than anyone else. The more congressional Democrats hear PTDB, the more likely it is to happen.