Does ObamaCare Teeter on the Brink of Collapse?
posted at 6:47 pm on December 6, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
There are two possible explanations for President Barack H. Obama’s sudden rush to personally lobby and exhort senators to vote for ObamaCare:
- It’s scant days from passage, and Obama wants to be there for the kill;
- Or just the opposite: The fragile coalition is breaking apart, and this is a last, desperate lunge for the brass ring, as Obama topples off the painted, wooden horse.
I vote for the latter, as the former doesn’t match the observed facts:
Democrats met throughout yesterday to seek an alternative to Senate Majority Harry Reid’s plan to create the new national program to cover the uninsured. Opposition within his party leaves Reid at risk of falling four votes short of the 60 he needs to pass the legislation, the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system in more than four decades.
Four is a lot more than opponents need to kill the bill at the next cloture vote. And if there are four, more will probably jump aboard the bandwagon; any senator worried about reelection in 2010 or 2012 because his state is more conservative than he (that’s a lot more than the usual formulation) would probably take advantage of a “free roll” to pander to the moderates. If the bill is already going down on a cloture vote anyway, it doesn’t matter under the rules whether it falls four votes short — or nine.
And the fissures are the same as they ever were: abortion, the public option, taxes, the looting of Medicare, and health-care rationing. As an example of the last, here’s news about how the bill Majority Leader Harry “Pinky” Reid (D-Caesar’s Palace, 70%) introduced in the Senate guts home health-care:
Republicans, unified in opposition, forced the Democrats yesterday to reiterate their support for cutting more than $40 billion in home health-care services funding under Medicare. It was the latest Republican effort to highlight the bill’s potential impact on the elderly….
The Senate also turned back a Republican bid to restore the home health services funding. The Republicans are trying to draw attention to the impact on the elderly from some $400 billion in proposed Medicare savings.
To boil it down, if Bloomberg is to be believed, Reid has made no progress whatsoever on persuading opponents, including some Democrats who voted to start debate, to come over to the dark side. Nobody has budged yet.
Therefore, if the Obamacle is personally involved at this late date, the only explanation that jibes with the facts is that his hands-off approach, leaving it to the Senate Democratic leadership, has not worked. But with Obama’s own lagging poll numbers, he really hasn’t the clout to bully the wavering into voting for ObamaCare: The more he tightens his grip, the more star systems will slip through his fingers.
If the Senate passes anything this year, it will be after an “amendment” jacks up the title and runs a whole new bill underneath… one that does little more than what the conservatives and moderates demand. Such a bill would be supported by Republicans, red-state Democrats, and even some leftist Democrats who cannot face the humiliation of returning to Berkeley or Austin or Manhattan empty handed; it would pass with well over 60 votes.
Barack Obama has managed the nearly impossible: After less than a year in office, he has already transformed himself into a lame duck.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…