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The Kamakazi Option: On health care reform, the action is in the House

Forget reconciliation for the moment, if the Senate version of the Health Care Reform bill doesn’t make it out of the House, reconciliation is moot.  As we talked about on last night’s podcast, the action to be watched is in the House where Nancy Peolosi is trying to gather enough votes to pass the bill into law.  If and when that should happen, and that is an extremely iffy prosepect at best, then reconciliation comes into play, with the Senate promising to pass “fixes” to the Senate bill/law to satisfy House Democrats.

So the effort in the House is two-fold: 1) put a legislative package together that will be passed after the Senate bill is signed into law that will satisfy wavering House Democrats and 2) then get enough votes among Democrats (remember they don’t need a single Republican vote to pass this bill in the House) to pass the Senate bill.

As of this writing, Pelosi doesn’t have enough votes to pass the bill. So, in the face of increasing public disapproval and skitish House Democrats, she’s reduced to calling on Democrats to become political kamakazis in order to pass this monstrosity of a bill into law.

“Our members, every one of them, wants health care,” Ms. Pelosi said. “They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.”

“But,” Ms. Pelosi continued, “the American people need it. Why are we here? We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress. We’re here to do the job for the American people, to get them results that give them not only health security, but economic security.”

Ms. Pelosi, holding a fairly safe seat from the liberal San Francisco area, is willing to spend the careers of every Democrat in the House to get her way. The question is, are enough of the Democratic members of the House willing to go along?

My sense is the answer is no (if they were, the bill would be law right now, wouldn’t it?) and she’s going to have a very tough time selling her “package” to Democrats – especially those among a group of 40 headed by Bart Stupak who are pro-life Democrats and don’t at all like the abortion language in the Senate bill. Reconciliation can’t fix that. And even if only half the Blue-Dogs go for her package, that leaves more than enough to defeat the bill.

As every day passes and we get closer to the mid-term elections I think it becomes less and less likely that Pelosi will get the votes she needs. There are few “courageous” politicians when it comes to jeopardizing their careers. This is one time that actually works for the people’s best interests. And I’d also guess that once the members of the House understand what reconciliation can and won’t fix, the bill’s fate is sealed.

I’m saying the bill won’t pass. That’s a guess. But it is a guess as valid as any other out there since it factors in the vast differences between the two bills in the first place, the fact that reconcilation is a very poor substitute for a normal congessional markup session and the belief that human nature will win out over party kamakazi politics with the desire to retain their jobs winning out over what Nancy Pelosi wants.

~McQ

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17 Responses to The Kamakazi Option: On health care reform, the action is in the House

  • Must be nice for her, in her nice safe seat, to sit there and tell the rest of the party to take one for the team.

  • I said a few months ago that this abomination would get really, really close but was ultimately DOA.  It was always the compromises required to pass it in the House versus the compromises required to pass it in the Senate.  All the Republicans have had to do was stay out of the way of the Dems, for the most part, and let them tear themselves apart over this bill.

    The upcoming elections are looming very large in the back of their minds, and I imagine that to many of them it is more important to get to their local election and saving their job than it is to continue to work on the Speaker’s and the President’s pet legislation.  By my estimation they’ve got to the end of March/mid-April (huh, a month to 6 weeks, where have we heard that?) before they have no longer have the will or attention to move forward.

    Not to mention the Climate Bill that they still need to make a few gestures towards having paid attention to and try to slam the Republicans a bit more on that front as well (strategically an error, I might add).

  • The Democrats need health care reform to pass to: a) mobilize their base; and b) take this issue off the hot burner.   Now Republicans will campaign saying they’ll stop health care reform.  If it’s passed, new issues can easily be put forward and there isn’t as much mileage in going after something from half a year earlier.   Politically, the Democrats need to: a) get their base energized (that’s how you do well in midterms); and b) use the President’s ability to set agendas to create a set of issues in the fall that will shape the debate.   If they pass health care reform they can do that and minimize mid-term loses.   If not, the Republicans will win big.

    • No, the GOP will run on stopping this health care bill and instead instituting more limited reforms that don’t bust the budget. See Ryan’s constant “I agree with you Mr. President that we need to lower costs” etc.

    • Except the base isn’t mobilized by this bill, and making it go away now surely takes the issue off the front burner, no?

      You’re right (amazingly so, but even a broken clock is right 2x a day) on one thing – the Dems need to make this issue go away, the longer it stays the longer they bleed

    • I don’t know how to break this sad news to you, Scott, other than giving it to you straight.

      When Obama demanded last summer that Congress give him a health care bill that he could sign before the August recess, that became the issue until Obama is gone from office.

      Just as it was then, it is  now: He wants to ram this thing down the throats of Americans.

      And they ain’t havin’ it.

      The one opportunity he had to drop the matter, after the voters elected a Republican to the Senate seat in Massachusetts held by the very champion of universal health care, has come and gone. He was a failing president with the opportunity for a fresh start. He passed on it, and by doing so now confirms everything that has ever been said about him by his opponents, starting with arrogant and radical Leftist and moving on to elitist and dishonest. Right out of the front pew at Reverend Wright’s church.

    • Scott, I still do not understand the mantra that passing health care will “mobilize the base”.  At the last poll only about 23% of likely voters want this monstrosity.  About 75% oppose.  It is hard to see how those 23% consists mostly of the base that needs “mobilizing”.
       
      Second, you seem pretty unclear as to how these bills implement health care.  They start by increasing taxes w/o an iota of care being provided.  So, the Republicans have until about 2013 to pound on the increased taxes and no benefits at all.There will be a lot of mileage available for attacking increased taxes and an increasing deficit.   It is easy to see a 2012 campaign that hinges on repealing any health care bill that is passed and replace it with a different one.  You seem awfully content to assume, once passed, the health care bill is inexorable.  That seems a lot like whistling past the graveyard.

      • Rick, Scott isn’t whistling, he’s hired the U of M marching band to play happy tunes as he runs by the graveyard with blinders on.

  • “We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress.”
    Oh yea granny, that’s exactly why you’re there.  That and to keep the porko pipeline open to your favored constituents.

  • McQThere are few “courageous” politicians when it comes to jeopardizing their careers.

    Reminds me of “Yes, Minister” / “Yes, Prime Minister”: any time Humphrey wants to dissuade Hacker from a policy, he tells him (in a voice dripping with phony admiration) that it is “courageous”.  This is usually enough to persuade Hacker to drop the idea then and there!  As Humphrey put it, “Controversial only means this will lose you votes, courageous means this will lose you the election.”

    At any rate, it’s going to come down to some key questions for the average dem:

    1.  Do I have a prayer of keeping my seat whether or not I buck Pelosi?

    2.  If I do what she wants and lose my seat as I result, will the party machine take care of me?

    3.  If I’m going to lose my seat anyway, why shouldn’t I get even with my teabagging constituents by doing what they DON’T want me to do?

  • “If they pass health care reform they can do that and minimize mid-term loses.”
    If they do it they’ll maximize their losses, all to the good if you’re a Republican.    With your ‘base’ comments(that seems to be your magic formula mantra now “that’s how you win mid-term elections”), since the only base that wants this turkey is the left of left center base you must also believe that Imeme was elected only because blacks went out and voted in large numbers.
     
    This is not going to be a normal mid-term election where a few people wander in and vote party line, though you may not see it from your table in the lofty faculty lounge, the country is pissed and I expect it’s going to be very pissed by April if gas prices continue to climb.

  • Ms. Pelosi said. “They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.”

    Two of the biggest entitlement programs in our history(and in no small part the reason we are here today) took courage? Give me cowardice.

  • I find it amazing that the stupid old hag is using Medicare and Social Security as examples. Does she even realize that both of those are broke and are bankrupting the nation?
     
    Yeah, way to go, give us more of what already is a monumental failure.

    • Bankrupting us, yes. But their intentions were good. Who cares about $47 trillion in liabilities? Certainly not Nancy, since she wants to add some more.