March 5, 2010

Well There's Yer Problem! part III

Hatched by Dafydd

Let's check back with the minions of Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%); the Squeak insists she'll either pass the bill, or she'll pass the bill. It's in the bag -- no need even to vote on it. (I wonder if -- maybe she'll... would even San Fran Nan have the huevos to try to rule that the Senate bill has passed the House by acclamation? Nah, even she wouldn't have that much chutzpah.)

But what do said minions themselves min? There are two main dissenting groups, plus one unnamed revolutionary mob that may well be larger than the other two put together.

Abort! Abort! Abort!

Let's start with the Stupakians, who have stooped to stupify the Squeaky stooges in Congress:

A dozen House of Representatives Democrats opposed to abortion are willing to kill President Barack Obama's healthcare reform plan unless it satisfies their demand for language barring the procedure, Representative Bart Stupak said on Thursday.

"Yes. We're prepared to take responsibility," Stupak said on ABC's "Good Morning America" when asked if he and his 11 Democratic allies were willing to accept the consequences for bringing down healthcare reform over abortion.

"Let's face it. I want to see healthcare. But we're not going to bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about," he said.

Oh, well they can always pass the Senate version of the bill (with no aboriton restriction), then just fix it in reconciliation, right?

Wrong: Reconciliation must follow the "Byrd Rule," which means (among other things), it's only available for clauses and sections that are primarily intended to reduce the budget deficit, either by cutting spending or raising taxes. There is no possible way that the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, or anyone else Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) names to that position in a fit of pique, is going to say that the primary purpose of banning federal spending on abortion coverage is simply to reduce the budget deficit.

That means the Stupakians must accept in advance of their vote the solemn assurances of liberal, pro-choice Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer that they will vote against funding abortion, even when they have the chance to implement what they have always dreamt of: Full funding of abortion with taxpayer money, so that every woman can get one!

I'm sure Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI, 90%) and his likeminded colleagues have absolute trust in the Senate Left.

Green is the color of my true-love's eyeshades

The second group that has begun grumbling comprises the fiscal... well I wouldn't exactly say hawks; they are Democrats, after all. But at least fiscal woodpeckers, who might insist upon hammering off bits and pieces here and there to bring the cost down somewhat -- and who already voted against the House bill because it was too costly:

But perhaps the most overlooked section of [Barack H. Obama's] speech was his insistence that the Democratic bill will take sufficient steps to control the rise in health care costs for individuals, families and the federal government.

“We have now incorporated most of the serious ideas from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care -- ideas that go after the waste and abuse in our system, especially in programs like Medicare,” the president said. “But we do this while protecting Medicare benefits and extending the financial stability of the program by nearly a decade.”

Whether the legislation will tamp down rising health care expenditures is controversial; even experts who support the Democratic legislation say it could do more to control costs. Nonetheless, the president’s remarks sent a clear message to a crucial group of Congressional Democrats who voted against the health care legislation citing cost concerns: the White House and Congressional leaders will not be taking any big new steps to win them over.

This is the group that the Squeaker must target for more votes, since her coalition has already dropped to a minority due to the loss of four votes (one reversal, two retirements, and one demise). At this point, Mrs. Pelosi has only 216 from her previous 220-vote majority... and she needs 217. (I think we should at least count Bart Stupak as another defection, dropping the current count to 215, two less than she needs now.)

The only place to troll for new votes is, quite obviously, among those who voted Nay last time; and that means Nancy Pelosi must persuade the fiscal woodpeckers to switch and support the bill this time.

The problem for the Democrats is... why? Why should they switch? What can the Democratic leadership offer the 39 Democratic Nay-sayers that they didn't offer them last time? How can the deal be better, now that they're voting on the Senate bill, rather than the one they helped craft in the first place?

Nothing in the Senate bill, vice the House bill, sweetens the pot for the fiscal woodies:

  • The Senate bill adds many more taxes and "fees" on the middle class and on the medical community than the House bill.
  • The Senate bill loots Medicare for considerably more than does the House bill, $438 billion vice $396 billion over ten years.
  • The House plan raises revenues by putting a big tax on "the rich" (individuals who earn more than $500,000 per year, households which earn more than $1,000,000), perceived as being primarily Republican; contrariwise, the Senate plan raises revenues by taxing "Cadillac" health-care plans, a tax that falls disproportionately on union members, perceived as primarily Democratic.
  • Although the Senate bill supposedly spends less than the House bill ($871 billion vice $891 billion over ten years), it (equally supposedly) reduces the deficit by less than the House bill does -- $132 billion vice $138 billion over ten years.

    (This is all a fiction, of course; as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 84%, demonstrates: The CBO counted ten years of tax increases but only six years of spending, so it's hardly surprising that looks good on paper; think how good your own bottom line would look if you counted a decade of your salary, then subtracted six years of your spending.)

The distance between the bills is not great; but what few discrepencies remain tend to make the woodpeckers less likely, not more likely, to vote for the Senate bill. Certainly the gap was wide enough that the two chambers never did come to a meeting of the minds.

Pelosi might get a few votes by twisting arms; but will it be anywhere near the dozen Stupakians she's going to lose, plus the four other votes she has already lost? That drops her 220 down to 204; Speaker Pelosi needs to scavenge 13 of the 39 Democratic Nays -- a third of them! -- for a bill that is certainly no better than the last time and arguably worse... up for a vote in an undeniably worse political environment than last time.

Lotsa luck, lady.

Red state menace

Finally, we have the "hidden" group: Those representatives who actually voted for the bill the last time... and then got mugged by their own constituents with a sock full of sand. I refer here not just to congressmen from Republican-leaning districts but even the moderate or "swing" districts -- which have swung rather decisively against ObamaCare.

Remember, the House Dems must vote for the entire Senate bill; not a word, not a comma or semicolon, not a jot or tittle may be changed -- else the "new" version has to return to the Senate and be voted upon, with 60 votes required and only 59 available.

Nothing, nothing can be changed before that first vote. That means that, in addition to voting for a bill that the president pretends costs $1.3 trillion over ten years, but which everybody knows really costs closer to Ryan's estimate of $2.3 trillion; in addition to voting for a bill that allows the federal government to use taxpayer money to fund abortion; in addition to raiding Medicare of half a trillion buckaroos, increasing the cost of health insurance, drastically raising taxes, and rationing health care (yeah, "death panels"); in addition to voting for all that, our hapless Democrats must must also vote for the Louisiana Purchase, the Kornhusker Kickback, and the Gator Aid.

If those poor reps suffered howls of anguish after the first go-round, imagine the shrieks of hysterical outrage when those same clods return for Easter break with a new black mark on their record -- just as their reelection campaigns kick off in earnest!

Doom is nigh!

Michael Barone has suggested (based upon a comment by Mark Tapscott) that the Democrats may be a little shorter than folks realize:

Clever liberals in the blogosphere are still urging House Democrats to pass the Senate health care bill, with the Senate then making changes through the reconciliation process requiring only 51 votes and the Senate going along. Sounds like a clever idea. But as my Examiner colleague Mark Tapscott writes, an anonymous quote from a House Democratic leader suggests that they are 100 votes short of passing the Senate bill. I wouldn’t take that 100 votes as a precise number, but as an approximation.

Whether a particular Democratic representative is a fiscal woodpecker and voted against the bill, or a pro-life Democrat and voted for it because of the Stupak Amendment, or a scared moderate Democrat from a moderate to right-leaning district -- or even a tie-dyed liberal who thinks that without the "government option," the whole bill is worthless -- he is asked to gamble his entire political career on the desperate hope that the Senate rides to his rescue, approving all sorts of things that it rejected the last time.

...Despite the fact that many of those clauses, such as the restriction on abortion coverage, cannot possibly be shoehorned into reconciliation; therefore they would be subject to filibuster, and any 41 Senators -- liberal, conservative, or a left-right alliance -- could block their implementation.

Barone's last line sums up this entire post, explaining in a nuthouse why all the momentum is with those switching from Yea to Nay, not the other way around:

The House Democratic leadership’s problem is that it cannot credibly promise that the Senate will keep its part of the bargain.

And I would add, so what if it did? It's still a lousy bill in a lousy year. The idea that there are handfuls of Democrats in the House just itching to pass an unpopular government takeover of health care and get themselves thrown out of office as reward is just... surreal.

How many high-paying ambassadorships and top-level adminstrative positions does anyone think Obama can find -- given that he needs those open slots to bribe campaign donors?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 5, 2010, at the time of 3:57 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Ken Hahn

I do not doubt your analysis for a moment. But I think you underestimate the capacity of Pelosi, Reid and Obama to corrupt the process. They are willing to spend the entire GDP and then some to buy votes. They are willing to use every tactic, from promises of appointment to office to Chicago style gangster politics to gain their objectives. At this moment, the bill would fail in the House. The extreme left leadership of the Democratic Party can't allow that. They have bet everything on passing this. They will never rest. We cannot either.

I am encouraged by Pelosi's problems but I am not convinced that she, or her allies, have finished yet. When this monstrosity is dead and buried, we can relax. 'Til then.. eternal vigilance and all that.

The above hissed in response by: Ken Hahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2010 8:46 PM

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