Dem caucus chairman: The public doesn't much care what procedure we use to pass this thing

Via the Right Scoop, this is the second time in as many days that I’ve seen a Democrat shrug off the idea of using the Slaughter strategy on grounds of public antipathy. (Axelrod did it yesterday too on MTP.) Normally I’d agree with them — parliamentary rules are baroque and boring — but these aren’t normal circumstances. This is one-sixth of the economy at stake, to pass a piece of legislation the Democrats have been after for decades, with the public already angry about procedural shenanigans involving backroom deals. A former federal appellate judge appointed by Bush took to the Journal’s op-ed page today to declare the Slaughter strategy flatly unconstitutional, which means there’ll almost certainly be a court challenge to try to undo the legislation if they use this procedure to pass the bill. Given the potential downside of all that, I’m frankly amazed that they’re still considering it instead of simply biting the bullet and having an up or down vote on Reid’s bill. In fact, in light of the parliamentarian’s ruling last week, I’m not even sure how they still benefit from the Slaughter strategy at this point. Even if they use it, the only bill Obama can sign is the underlying Senate bill, not the House’s reconciliation fix (which the Senate wouldn’t have passed yet). If something goes wrong in the upper chamber with reconciliation, we’re all stuck with the Reid bill as law. In which case, why doesn’t Pelosi simply avoid the bad optics and potential court problem and just vote yes or no on the Reid bill with a reconciliation fix to follow separately?

Has anyone seen any polling about the Slaughter strategy yet, incidentally? I’m guessing not, as it’s only a week or so old and is hard enough to explain that it doesn’t lend itself easily to questions. But I’d be keen to see how nonchalant the public really is at the thought of health-care reform passing without an actual yes or no vote on the bill in the House.

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