September 16, 2009

The Utlimate Democratic Failure

Hatched by Dafydd

The Hill reports that not a single Republican supports the version of ObamaCare crafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%)... not even Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME, 12%), Chuck Grassley (R-IA, 76%), and Mike Enzi (R-WY, 96%), the three "moderate" Republican Finance Committee members (Grassley is Ranking Minority Member) who form the Republican half of the "Gang of Six," set up by Baucus to try to find a bipartisan alternative to the House ObamaCare bill. (Hat tip to Paul at Power Line.)

(Actually, Mike Enzi is fairly conservative with a 96% rating from the ACU; for some reason, Baucus chose to include him in the pod.)

Baucus' failure to get even one of his three Finance Committee pals to go along with his "bipartisan compromise" augurs badly for the Democrats' ability to pick up even a single Republican in the full Senate to gain the 60 votes required for cloture; thus, the only way they have a chance of passing ObamaCare is to resort to the despicable maneuver of abusing reconciliation -- whose purpose is to hold down spending to reduce the deficit -- to jam through a wholesale rewrite of the entire relationship between doctors, patients, insurers, and government bureaucrats... and to blow the budget deficit through the roof, to boot. We discussed the unlikelihood of success in As the Byrd Rule Flies.

Even more humiliating than not being able to win a cloture vote (and then deciding not to try to ride reconciliation into passage) would be if they did try the reconciliation route -- then actually lost the vote, not being able to get even 50 Democratic senators to vote for it. What are the odds of that happening?

On paper, it's not plausible; the Democratic caucus in the Senate is much more liberal than the Republican conference is conservative; there are no Olympia Snowes or Chuck Grassleys on the left. Even Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85%) is far more liberal than most Senate Republicans are conservative.

The lowest ADA rating for a Democratic senator is 65% -- Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Other than she, there are only four Democrats with ratings in the 70s... and one of them is Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%), whose defection to the Republican side is dubious at best. Even if Sens. Robert Byrd (D-WV, 78%), Ben Nelson (D-NE, 75%), and Evan Bayh (D-IN, 70%) all flip, and even assuming that Lieberman votes against the bill, that would still leave the Democrats with a 55 to 44 majority in favor.

But there is also the possibility that some liberal Democrats might vote against it, on the grounds that it lets a good crisis go to waste by not cramming true single-payer, government-run health care down America's esophagus. For example:

[Baucus'] effort to woo Republicans, however, has alienated liberals. At least one prominent liberal on his committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), plans to vote against Baucus’s plan.

“There is no way in its present form that I will vote for it,” Rockefeller said during a conference call.

But of course, if no Republican is going to vote for it anyway, why not make it full-blown ObamaCare -- perhaps by simply introducing the House version of the bill into the Senate? That would certain resolve the leftist rebellion... but at what cost? I can see even quite liberal-voting Democrats voting against a bill that (a) is a wild, liberal, tax and spend monstrosity in a era of mounting opposition among ordinary Americans, doctors, and townhall attendees; and (b) was brought up for a vote in such a cynical way. It would also make it easy for the three moderate Democrats plus Joe Lieberman to vote against the bill.

All it would take is six more Democrats voting against for varying reasons to drop the vote down to 49 yea, 50 nay, and the bill fails.

What a dilemma for the not quite so liberal Democrats: Either they suck it up, vote for ObamaCare under reconciliation, and have a very good chance of being voted out of office at the next opportunity... or else getting frisky, voting against the bill (and killing it), and then seeing their entire side the aisle taking a walloping in November 2010.

The best outcome for the Democrats would probably be for the bill to fail to break cloture, and then get spiked by Reid. That would be embarassing -- but at least it wouldn't be humiliating, and it wouldn't be enraging.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 16, 2009, at the time of 12:06 AM

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