Green Room

ObamaCare: Friday nuggets and tidbits

posted at 1:37 am on November 13, 2009 by

With Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid planning to bring ObamaCare to the floor next week, where do things stand? It depends who you ask. James Pethokoukis writes:

Just talked to a very insightful Capitol Hill Watcher who doesn’t think Harry Reid has the votes in the Senate to pass anything resembling comprehensive healthcare reform. You can count out Lieberman, Landrieu, Nelson and maybe even Bayh.


Assuming Reid can get 60 votes to proceed to the floor sometime next week, we are talking December being taken up with debate on amendments concerning the public option, abortion, taxes. As it is, Reid is reworking the Senate bill on the fly. One day it is a new version of a PO trigger, the next a hike in payroll taxes. Reconciliation? “That ship has sailed.”

On the other hand, Keith Hennessey still sees a 60% chance that the Democrats pass a partisan, comprehensive takeover of the healthcare system this Congress — though his analysis is in some ways leaning against passage.

The six largest publicly-traded health insurance companies had been taking a beating since Labor Day. They took a 3.7% jump the day after Election Day, and went up about the same as the broader market the Monday after the House passed PelosiCare. Stocks like WellPoint, UnitedHealth and CIGNA have mostly recovered.

The market does not necessarily suggest ObamaCare is in trouble, as the big insurers would still back a law requiring everyone to buy their product. It might suggest market sentiment about the odds of a “public option” making it into law, which opens the question of whether the Congressional Democrats can bring themselves to settle for a bill without a government insurance plan (the Obama administration almost certainly would).

Finally, at, Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal wonders why the red “opposition” line rose during October. His theories are: (1) more negative ads from reform opponents; and (2) media coverage focusing on process and Democratic disunity. Those are reasonable enough — and on the latter point, I would suggest that the coverage has necessarily focused on Congress, a rarely popular institution.

However, if you look at the chart, it shows approval of ObamaCare in a basic range for months, while disapproval has generally risen steadily since May. The Democrats were able to put on a full-court press in August, though not enough of one to overcome the disapproval driven by ObamaCare protesters. That phase peaked with Pres. Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress. Since that speech, it appears that the trends have simply reverted to their general trends — trends that make time the enemy of ObamaCare. The Democrats know this, which is why they are trying so hard to ram their bills through this year… but that prospect seems more unlikely every day.

Update: As if on cue, Gallup reports:

More Americans now say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage (50%) than say it is (47%). This is a first since Gallup began tracking this question, and a significant shift from as recently as three years ago, when two-thirds said ensuring healthcare coverage was the government’s responsibility.

When Bill Clinton tells Congressional Dems they are winning, do you think they remember his track record on this issue?

Update x2: Courtesy of the HuffPo:

A Goldman Sachs analysis of health care legislation has concluded that, as far as the bottom line for insurance companies is concerned, the best thing to do is nothing. A close second would be passing a watered-down version of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill.

So we can likely expect more lobbying and more anti-ObamaCare advertising.

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If you have to call in Bill Clinton to say you are winning, it most certainly means you re not winning.

rockmom on November 13, 2009 at 10:23 AM

One loser depending on help from another loser. When was Clinton rehabilitated to the point that real people respect what he says?

Kissmygrits on November 13, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Maybe some of those now against saw the “debate” on C-SPAN like I did. When Boehner read parts of the bill, I was furious.
All sorts of perks to business and a go to jail card for US citizens. I hate Congress!

elclynn on November 13, 2009 at 12:16 PM

If the reconciliation ship really has sailed, then the question is how to distributed the 20% likelihood that Hennessey gave it. It was one-third of the 60% likelihood of a comprehensive bill in “this Congress” (newly amended from “this year”).

I think that since reconciliation was a fallback position after failure to reach the most desirable outcome for Ds – comprehensive bill passed under “regular order” – then it makes more sense to add the 20% or most of it anyway to the “Obamacare fails” side. It means that the Ds will have to get 60 votes for something, and that that something would be “compromise^2” at worst – a calibrated compromise between the Full Nancy and a small compromise bill. Every day that passes would seem to calibrate that compromise^2 closer to the small bill, while reducing the whole exercise to a merely political “get something-anything done” or risk abysmal embarrassment (i.e., correct judgment of Democratic performance).

If paying attention to Republicans wasn’t considered a fate worse than death, the Dems could pass a bill with overwhelming majorities that would be quite popular at best, greeted with a nationwide sigh of relief at worst.

CK MacLeod on November 13, 2009 at 1:13 PM