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TPM Reader JB gets his call back from Barney Frank and learns about the “new reality” …

Congressman Frank called me and I had the opportunity to speak with him. He was very annoyed by my characterization of his statements as chickening out, chastising me for not communicating as an adult. I told him that I thought that as a senior member of the delegation, as the first statement out, he set the tone for the health care bill discussion and set it in a negative direction. He told me that it didn’t come out of thin air, but from discussions with other members. He told me that being a single-issue voter is not a smart way to be. I told him that I work in health care and saw what it was like when patients didn’t have insurance and suffered for it, so I feel strongly about it. I asked him when the democrats would have a more favorable congressional position than now and he had no answer.

I asked why we should elect democrats and why should the base support democrats when they can’t get their signature issue done. He cited a list of important issues, including clean energy, financial reform, etc. When I asked how any of these will get done in the face of a 41-59 majority, he said there is more flexibility in the Senate on these issues. I told him that Chris Dodd was already watering consumer protections and nothing has moved on clean energy or financial regulation for more than a year. He said they would be moving on these soon. After we spoke for a few minutes the tone (on both sides) was better, but clearly he doesn’t think it will happen, and I think he wanted me to understand the “new reality” of the situation. He told me it would be wrong to push the bill through now that new senator would vote the opposite of the current occupant. I said this is occurring because of the very long delay in getting this bill done. He told me that it was very complicated and the Speaker had been working on it continuously and there was no intended delay. He also told me that it is very unlikely that the house will vote for the current Senate bill. I know he wants it done, but he doesn’t believe the current congress can do it. He thinks the fillibuster rules need to be changed. I told him at the end that respectfully disagreed with giving up, because now that he has voted for the bill he owns it and the democrats will have nothing to show for the vote. He reiterated the new reality.

I am so depressed.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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