There are lots of conflicting stories floating around today as to the health of Harry Reid’s 2,074-page monstrosity of a healthcare bill, and clearly all is not well on the Democrat plantation.
Evidence of the trouble with the bill, for which Reid has seemed completely incapable of getting 60 votes and for which there is increasingly scant support among the American populace, is that the president has summoned all 60 Democrats to the White House to presumably harangue them in an effort to wrap up a majority. Not a single Republican senator has been invited.
Or perhaps it won’t really be a harangue. “The White House is not pushing (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid in any direction,” said spokesman Dan Pfieffer. “We are working hand in hand with the Senate leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible.”
Regardless, for the past 48 hours the Washington conventional wisdom has it that Reid can’t herd all the Democrats together for a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority to force the bill home. Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman said Sunday that in its current form the bill is unsupportable. Florida’s Bill Nelson called Reid’s attempt to replace the “public option” with an expansion of Medicare to 55-to-64 year-olds a “non-starter.” Missouri’s Clare McCaskill said that she can’t support the bill if it “raises costs and the deficit.” And Nebraska’s Bill Nelson has steadfastly refused to vote for anything that funds abortions.
The narrative coming from the White House, which began Sunday when Obama claimed that “seven presidents have failed” to provide America with socialized medicine, has become largely one of desperation – Obama is reportedly going to present this as a “last chance” to his 60 senatorial guests today. As Pfeiffer told the Politico, “If President Obama doesn’t pass health reform, it’s hard to imagine another president ever taking on this Herculean task. For those whose life’s work is reforming health care, this may be the last train leaving the station.”
Vice President Joe Biden chimed in on MSNBC this morning with a similar statement: “If health care does not pass in this Congress … it’s going to be kicked back for a generation.”
From Biden’s lips to God’s ears. The closer this bill has come to passage, the more the American people stand against it. CNN found that 61 percent of the public is opposed to Reid’s bill, and the RealClearPolitics.com poll average on Obamacare sits at 53.3 percent opposed, 38.0 in support. As Rich Lowry writes,
If he passes health-care reform, he’ll depend on a series of historic “firsts.” It’d be the first time Congress had passed a major new entitlement program without bipartisan support; it’d be the first time it passed such a program without popular support; and the first time it passed such a program without knowing or particularly caring what’s in it.
That situation, and the evident arrogance and pigheadedness it displays, is further brought to light in a Washington Examiner story by Byron York explaining why the Democrats are bound and determined to ride through such a strong headwind.
York has the story from a prominent Democrat strategist who wishes to remain anonymous. There are three actors in this play, and they all have their separate reasons to push Obamacare despite a growing knowledge that the American people will savage them next November for doing so.
“In the House, the view of [California Rep. Henry] Waxman and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi is that we’ve waited two generations to get health care passed, and the 20 or 40 members of Congress who are going to lose their seats as a result are transitional players at best,” he said. “This is something the party has wanted since Franklin Roosevelt.”
“At the White House, the picture is slightly different,” he continued. “Their view is, ‘We’re all in on this, totally committed, and we don’t have to run for re-election next year. There will never be a better time to do it than now.'”
“And in the Senate, they look at the most vulnerable Democrats — like [Christopher] Dodd and [Majority Leader Harry] Reid — and say those vulnerabilities will probably not change whether health care reform passes or fails. So in that view, if they pass reform, Democrats will lose the same number of seats they were going to lose before.”
York quotes his source as explaining the reason why Democrats are willing to sacrifice themselves rather than do things the American people want them to do, like cut spending and taxes, improving the healthcare system rather than trashing it and take steps to grow the economy like promoting proven domestic energy sources…
“Because they think they know what’s best for the public,” the strategist said. “They think the facts are being distorted and the public’s being told a story that is not entirely true, and that they are in Congress to be leaders. And they are going to make the decision because Goddammit, it’s good for the public.”
Meanwhile, lefty blogger Nate Silver makes a virtue out of this nightmare:
Liberals have tended to underestimate what a significant political achievement it would be for Democrats to pass such a major bill that has become rather unpopular with the public. It would be going too far to characterize the Democrats as courageous for passing health care reform (if they do), because at the end of the day, the political case for passing health care reform is probably stronger than the case for failing to do so. Moreover, the handling of public option debate is not completely exogenous from the bill’s popularity or lack thereof. Nevertheless, Democrats have been negotiating into a stiff political headwind for months now, and have been rather resilient in the face of it.
It’s a political achievement to get all 60 Senate Democrats to agree, you see, and the persistence in flouting the will of the American people shows resiliency.
All of this has the makings of a severe house of cards, and you’d think the longer this goes on the greater the chance the Mary Landrieus, Blanche Lincolns, Liebermans, McCaskills and Nelsons of the world will flake out rather than put themselves in position to be blamed by their constituents for being the deciding vote in socializing medicine.
But Obama and Reid are throwing deep. Both Redstate.com’s Erick Erickson and Michelle Malkin are reporting that Lieberman is caving in because Reid is throwing out the Medicare expansion, Ben Nelson is caving in because he’s getting a blank-check bribe as a carrot and, in the alternative, the closing of Offutt Air Force Base as a stick and the lefty senators are being told not to make a stink about losing the public option because they can’t blow a chance of a lifetime.
Back to York’s piece, this crew is uninterested in the opinion of the American people. They think they know what’s best for you better than you do, and they’re bent on forcing their views down your throat whether you like it or not.
To date, the Republicans have pursued a rather low-key strategy aimed at picking off Democrats here and there to slow Reid’s bill down without appearing openly obstructionist – and those tactics have been criticized as too passive by Erickson and others.
If Obama and Reid are on the verge of succeeding in roping in their entire Democrat delegation, however, it’s going to be time for open revolt on the part of minority leader Mitch McConnell and his people. The end of “unanimous consent” on the legislation, for example, as individual senators can simply say “I object” every time there aren’t 51 senators on the floor and thus forcing Senate business to a halt for lack of a quorum. Objecting to ending debate on each amendment offered to the bill can drag things out forever. Constitutional points of order on the bill can gum up the works even more. And so on.
To engage in this behavior is to invite the wrath of the left-wing media, and the GOP is notoriously squeamish about getting bad press from the Democrat propagandists at ABC, CBS, NBC and the New York Times. But when anywhere from 53 to 61 percent of the American people are on your side, and when you know that what’s at stake is a $2.5 trillion infringement on personal freedom and individual property, the time for squeamish is long past.
We’re about to see, hopefully, a fight to the death on this bill. The Democrats seem happy to break the country and its government in pursuit of something they can call a political accomplishment. If the rest of us aren’t willing to go to the same lengths to stop them, we deserve our fate.
But should Obama get his legislation, the battle isn’t over. Repealing every aspect of Obamacare must be the GOP’s prime platform plank for the mid-year elections next year – accepting less than that would be the type of half-a-loaf approach which lost the Republicans their majority in the first place.