Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The State Of DemCare: Initial Analysis

I'm sure there will be thousands of pages written over the next few days about what happens next on DemCare, but here are a few of the initial responses that I think are worth reading.

Let’s cut right to the chase: Scott Brown’s resounding defeat of Martha Coakley demonstrates many things. Chief among these is the vulnerability of every Democrat in the current election year, the impotence of the Democrats’ current leader and sitting President to sway public opinion in any vital race (Corzine, Deeds, Coakley….), and the true unpopularity of the health care monstrosity the Democratic supermajority has been fighting amongst itself to produce over the course of this last year.

More than one analyst has observed that Massachusetts’ current “progressive” health care system, put in place under Republican Governor Mitt Romney, gave state voters little reason to go to the polls to protect Obamacare. The reason for this, those analysts said, was that the Bay State, with its individual mandate and state connector-based system, stood to be least affected by the failure of the Democrats’ national health overhaul bill. However, it may be more correct to look at this move by Massachusetts voters — including a large number of Democrats — as a referendum on their own version of health care “reform,” which has turned into such a costly, access-precluding boondoggle in the years since its passage that even the most hard-hearted of Bay Staters did not wish to see it inflicted on the rest of America by the federal government.

Upon Senator-elect Scott Brown’s seating in the United States Senate, the one-party tyranny that has plagued Washington ever since this Congress was seated, and this President was sworn in, comes to a close. This does not, of course, mean that the Democrat agenda will have been stopped in its tracks; with Republicans like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and others in the Senate always willing to flip sides on an issue in the name of “compromise,” that will almost never be the case.

However, with their 60-vote supermajority having been lost, the ease with which Senate Democrats and President Obama will be able to pass their agenda in the future will be greatly reduced.

It is very telling that the solid year in which the Democratic Party had total, unassailable, unobstructable control of the entire apparatus of lawmaking and -enforcing power in Washington, the only tangible things they have to show for it are an expansion of SCHIP, a $787,000,000,000.00 boondoggle of a “stimulus” package that has failed to provably save one single job amidst the worst unemployment numbers in decades, and hundreds upon hundreds of hours logged griping and moaning about an “obstructionist” Republican superminority that couldn’t have stopped Democrats from doing one single thing in Congress has they wanted to.

That is a record voters are sure to remember come this November, particularly if Mr. Brown’s victory Tuesday night in the deep blue electoral sea that is Massachusetts is any indicator.

So what's a radical Leftist to do? Choices, choices:

President Obama and the congressional Democrats have at least three options in their quest to pass health care legislation. Two of them don't seem very promising, but the third one might be.

One option is for the House to pass the Senate version of health care legislation. If the House were to do so, it would negate the impact of Scott Brown's election on the issue.

But the House was barely able to pass its own version of health care, though Speaker Pelosi may have had a few votes in reserve. Thus, the Senate's version, which differs in material respects (e.g., abortion and taxation of "cadillac" plans) would have been a tough sell under the best of circumstances. And with many Democratic Representatives no doubt spooked by today's election results, these aren't the best of circumstances.

A second option is to try to get the Senate to act on a new version before Brown is seated. But there doesn't appear to be enough time to accomplish this unless the Democrats contrive to prevent the timely seating of Brown. That tactic would probably consign even more Democrats to defeat in November. Moreover, certain Red and Purple State Democratic Senators will also have been spooked by today's result -- at least spooked enough not countenance the kind of abusive behavior described above. In fact, some of these characters may see Brown's election as an opportunity to attempt to save what little face they still may have.

The third option is to include a few Republicans in the process, e.g. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. This is what the Democrats should have done in the first place. The defection of Arlen Specter lulled them into the rash decision to push through this transformative legislation with no Republican support. That move has backfired.

Now the Dems have the opportunity to fix their mistake. It wouldn't even be that difficult. To my knowledge, you can't "buy" Snowe and Collins as you can some of the so-called moderate Democrats. But neither have they been "tough sells" when ti comes to cooperating with the liberal Dems.

For me right now, the five words I dread are "Obama to meet with Snowe."

I agree completely. Remember, it was Snowe who initially voted to allow DemCare out of the Senate committee in the first place. It's a small miracle that Snowe, Collins, and Voinovich have kept ranks with the rest of the GOP thus far. The potential for 'bipartisanship' is way too high here, even with Brown sitting in the Massachusetts seat.

But, this win is likely to shake up the Dems all over the country. Recall:
Regardless, if Obama is making this race a referendum on his agenda, he just may have cemented his presidency as truly 'historic' as the man who achieved lame duck status the fastest. If the people of liberal Massachusetts -- which I believe is about 3:1 Democrat -- send Brown to the Senate, especially in a big win, Obama's agenda is shot. Other Dems will see the writing on the wall, and another round of 'retirements' in at-risk seats will commence. Those who sit tight will likely tack to the center, and will be a whole lot less likely to walk the plank on issues like DemCare and cap-n-tax.
It appears that it's happening already:
Democratic leaders and the White House insisted ahead of the vote they aren’t preparing to desert health care. They admit they’ll have to come up with a new strategy to win passage, but said they didn’t want to allow one Senate race to take them off-course on the president’s top legislative item for the year.

But several House members said Tuesday night that they had no interest in pursuing the most likely scenario for moving ahead with a bill — approving the already-passed Senate version of health reform in the House – and some said President Barack Obama should step back and start over.

In fact, early signs of split emerged as the polls closed in Massachusetts – between leaders like Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who said “the Senate bill is better than nothing,” and individual members who didn’t want to swallow the Senate’s version of health reform whole…

“If it comes down to that Senate bill or nothing, I think we are going to end with nothing because I don’t hear a lot of support on our side for that bill,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.)
It's happening in the Senate, too:
Lieberman and Bayh all but warned Obama to back off earlier today. About an hour ago, just as news of Brown’s victory broke, Jim Webb chimed in: “[I]t would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”
This is getting good, and fast.

There's my two cents.

PS - by the way, public opposition to DemCare has never been higher. Oh, and President Obama's comment was, "You can't win them all." And you're about to lose many, many more, Mr. President.

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