Monday, January 18, 2010

The Democrats' back-up plan if Scott Brown wins

They're like the Energizer Bunny. They keep on coming, even if it means marching over a cliff. They're scrambling to figure out how to pass health care if Scott Brown wins tomorrow. Mickey Kaus has been touting what he calls the "Sudden Victory" plan in which the House would pass the Senate plan in its entirety and voila! it would all be done. Both the New York Times discusses this same possibility. The House would pass the Senate bill and then plan to smooth out all their objections in the budget reconciliation process.

Such a tactic would mean that the House would have to vote for the Senate bill with all the elements that are stumbling blocks for House members. They would have to vote for the tax on the expensive health care plans with no exemption for labor. They'd have to vote for abortion language that is quite a bit weaker than the House bill's language. They'd have to vote for the Nebraska kickback. Remember, the House bill passed with only 220 votes when it passed originally. Since then Robert Wexler of Florida resigned and he won't be replaced until April. That brings them to 219 and one of those votes was the Republican from New Orleans. Republicans in the House report that he won't be the sole vote to put health care over the top.

So that means that Nancy Pelosi would have to hold every single supporter of the Stupak abortion amendment or bring in some representatives who voted against the bill the first time to vote for a bill that there are so many more reasons not to like. That seems a very tough row to hoe. Especially in an environment where a senatorial candidate won in Massachusetts campaigning explicitly on voting against the Democratic health care bill and despite Barack Obama traveling to Boston to make his last ditch appeal.

With polls showing a really tough battle for many Democrats in November, do they really want to join hands and jump off the cliff together just to pass the Senate bill that they already have so many objections to in the hope that behind-the-scenes negotiations in the budget process would alleviate all their concerns? Do they feel strong going before voters to explain how they voted for it before they voted against it?