Why I’m not betting against Mitch McConnell

If you’re planning to watch Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cajole a clutch of disaffected Republican colleagues into casting a “yes” vote for the moribund health care bill, arm yourself with a scorecard and calculator. With nearly $200 billion to allocate—assuming that effort doesn’t infuriate his more conservative colleagues—you can expect a blossoming of catchy catchphrases to describe the efforts of a wily negotiator whose capacity for pulling legislative rabbits out of hats should never be underestimated.

Remember the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the derisive term Republicans used in 2010 to describe the goodies that Democrats bestowed on Nebraska to win over their foot-dragging senator, Ben Nelson? Well, we’ve already seen the “Aleutian Advantage,” aimed at the high cost of medical care in Lisa Murkowski’s Alaska. Soon we may see the “Badger Bestowal” (for Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson), the “Buckeye Benefaction” (for Ohio’s Rob Portman), the “Pine Tree Premium” (for Maine’s Susan Collins) and the “Sunflower Subsidy” (for Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas).

The run-up to the actual vote (assuming McConnell does not fold his cards and give up) is going to feature running tabs on every cable news channel and political website, along with daily prediction models and betting odds.

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