I can’t make heads or tails of the various whip counts floating around. Friends who report on politics assure me that Nancy Pelosi still has plenty of leverage to twist arms . . . but what? It doesn’t seem all that likely that Ms. Pelosi is going to be in charge after November, so what exactly does she have to hand out to wavering members? And if this thing passes on some controversial procedural manoeuvre, the Republicans in the Senate will go into full meltdown mode, meaning that there isn’t going to be any more legislation to take home to your constituents anyway. (How much pork can you cram into one financial reform bill?)
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee money for their campaigns, of course . . . but if you’re in a district that hates the health care bill this hardly seems likely to save you.
Meanwhile, Pelosi and the leadership have to sound 100% absolutely sure of themselves . . . because if there’s any question of this thing not passing, their members will stampede for the exits. So their confidence isn’t really a sign of anything. On the other hand, the conservatives claiming it’s nearly impossible have equal and opposite motives. My sense is that it’s at a tipping point–at this point, many of the waverers are simply holding out for more goodies, but if she loses a couple more members, the thing becomes effectively impossible.
But I have nothing in particular to back that up . . . and as far as I can tell, neither does anyone else.
So now I’m thinking about another political problem. Assume this passes; what happens afterward? I don’t think that many people believe that the answer is “Nothing: the bill becomes law, and we sing happy smurf songs all the way to the longest life expectancy in the Western world!” Even the bill’s proponents expect it will need some follow-up work. But what will that follow-up work look like?
Worst case scenario for Democrats: a wave of public outrage like the one that followed Cat Care, aka The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 (and its step-child, the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Repeal Act of 1989). This strikes me as quite likely, actually. If this passes, yes, you will have AARP support and a wave of positive coverage from 90% liberal media. These things did not save Cat Care from a wave of angry public protest. I mean, really angry. Who knew senior citizens could be that spry?
Now see: The White House’s last-minute healthcare talking points >
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