Reid: Those tonsil vultures stole my vote

A funny thing happened to the way to the first Senate floor vote on the health-care overhaul pushed by this administration.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with 60 Democrats in the upper chamber, couldn’t get enough of them to end a filibuster.  Who’s to blame for the failure to get a vote?  Debbie Stabenow, who wrote the bill that attempted to sneak an extra $250 billion in costs past the CBO for ObamaCare?  Centrist Democrats from red states who have to face the voters?  A Majority Leader who has trouble “leading” himself the right way out of a paper bag?

No, of course not.  It’s those evil Tonsil Vultures and Foot Rustlers:

Reid brought the bill to the floor in an effort to secure the support of doctors groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA) for the future fight over an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system.

Reid’s gambit, however, backfired, leaving Reid blaming the AMA for failing to secure GOP votes and the AMA retorting that the leader misinterpreted its pledge.

Reid told colleagues that the AMA said it could deliver 27 Republican votes for the legislation, according to two Senate Democratic lawmakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some Democrats wondered whether it was reasonable to expect that as many as 27 Republicans would support a 10-year freeze in light of the fact that only 17 Senate Republicans voted for a one-year freeze last July. Of that group, only 11 remain in the Senate.

Gee, maybe Reid would like to get those six Republicans back in the Senate now, huh?

Winners take responsibility, while losers look for scapegoats.  Last I looked, the AMA doesn’t have any leadership role in the Senate.  They don’t “deliver” votes, and it’s not their role anyway.  Perhaps a real Senate Majority Leader would have enough pull to count his own votes and make his own case, rather than leave that to a lobbying group and then get shocked, shocked to discover that most Republicans would not allow Reid to play his shell game with $250 billion that should get counted in the full ObamaCare proposal instead of hidden from the CBO.

Besides, let’s not forget that Reid has 60 Democrats in the Senate.  Why should the AMA have to deliver any Republican votes?  Reid can’t even deliver his own caucus.  The cloture vote wasn’t even close at 47-53, which means that a number of Democrats defied Reid and rejected the shell game, too.  Reid can sob all he wants about Tonsil Vultures, but the problem is that Reid is pushing legislation so radical and dishonest that he can’t deliver his own caucus.

What’s next?  The Stabenow bill will have to get attached to the ObamaCare proposal — which means the CBO will rescore it with the additional $250 billion cost.  That will make the deficit hit overt and create what The Hill calls a “poison pill” for the bill, and that’s before the progressives try to jam a public option into it.  Without it, Reid loses the AMA.  It’s a disaster for Reid and the Democrats.

Update: The cloture vote was 47-53, not 53-47, which means that Harry Reid fell 13 votes short of cloture.  I knew that but wrote the numbers in reverse.  Thanks to commenter WashJeff for the clarification and the link.

Update II: As usual, Joe Gandelman has an excellent roundup on this topic.  Gary Gross has further thoughts on the political disaster this will become for Reid.