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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Whipping Reluctant Democrats into Shape

Whipping reluctant Democrats into shape:

The pressure is on Speaker Pelosi to whip the Democrats into shape.   Meanwhile, the American voter is getting more upset by the day, as they think there voices are not being heard.   So what is going on?

Typically when the “whipping” starts on a major bill congressional insiders say, “The candy store is open.”   For wavering Democrats, that means requesting changes in the legislation in exchange for their support – make this modification, add this or that and I’ll support it. Bargaining like this goes on routinely behind the scenes.  It’s all part of making the great legislative hot dog
The health care bill includes another strange procedural twist.  Democratic leaders in Congress decided to first bring up the legislation the Senate passed in December for a vote in the House.  If it passes, the bill could go directly to the president for his signature.  Democrats are promising wavering House members they will make changes to the bill in a subsequent piece of legislation that will be considered as part of the budget reconciliation process (which requires a simple majority to pass in the Senate).  But it’s unclear when, or even if, this will happen.  As one veteran member of Congress used to say, “Fixing a bill in the Senate is the political equivalent of promising ‘I’ll respect you in the morning.’” 

Both parties in Congress elect their respective “whips.” In the House, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina holds the position for the Democrats and Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia for the GOP.  The position has been formally part of the congressional leadership since around the end of the nineteenth century. But because health care is the big enchilada, this one lands on Pelosi’s plate. “She’s the real Democratic whip on this one,” a House Republican leadership aide told me.
The fate of the legislation lies in the accuracy and persuasiveness of the Democratic vote counters. Yet the process is largely unknown to the world outside of congressional insiders.   The Weekly Standard, political blog  March 2010

And if the Democrats are whipped into shape, with many casting a vote that may end up sealing their fate in November of 2010 (and unelectable members of Congress, due to going against the will of their constituents)?    

But the rub is that even if ObamaCare passes, Democrats and President Obama will lose. Republicans have already vowed to make November a referendum on this bill and, by all auguries, Democrats are going to lose big time. The loss of one election if the larger cause succeeds wouldn't be a big deal. But this bill has little legitimacy and for years might be tied up in constitutional challenges against its individual mandate provision--not to mention the provisions that turn insurance companies into public utilities without due process. ObamaCare could well become President Obama's Iraq. Worst of all from the standpoint of his personal life story, it will exacerbate the crisis of the entitlement state, requiring someone else to step forward and clean up the fiscal mess he is creating.  Shikha Dalmia, writing in Forbes Magazine
Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation and a biweekly Forbes columnist. 

So as Speaker Pelosi trys to whip her Democrat majority in Congress into line, many members of Congress are listening to their voters back home and realizing that a vote for the monstrous health care bill is political suicide.

The recent   Rasmussen polling shows why the Health Care bill is in big trouble, and why wavering members of Congress have a voter support problem (especially Democrats who vote for the bill):

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters believe passage of the proposed health care legislation will lead to higher health care costs. Just 17% believe it will achieve the stated goal of reducing the cost of care.
Forty-nine percent (49%) also think passage of the plan will reduce the quality of care, while only 23% believe it will improve the quality of care.   3.08.10 Rasmussen Reports

And while the President is not up for reelection in 2010, all 435 members of the House and 1/3 of the US Senate have to face an angry electorate in November 2010.     Will the blue dog Democrats hunt for Obama-Pelosi-Reed?   It doesn’t look like the Democrats have the majority of votes to pass the Health Care bill.

© 2010, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media,   

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