Friday, March 19, 2010

Confidence Game

Seeing some reports, it seems as though Speaker Pelosi and her allies are now heavily involved in the confidence game, sending all the impressions that they have a secure majority on health-care. It's to their advantage to do so. No vulnerable Democrat wants to vote for an unpopular bill that fails. Most of them probably aren't too happy for voting for this bill even if it does succeed. If leadership can make each individual recalcitrant Democrat look like a lone holdout, they might be able to corral a majority, or so they hope.

However, it's not clear that Pelosi does have a majority. The fact that enough representatives are leaving their options open shows that her coalition is not firmly solidified. If it was, she could have the 216 Democrats all staunchly declare their intentions to vote in favor of the bill, and that would be that. The whip counting would be over. Right now, she's not secure enough in her allies to get those declarations. Democrats who are privately pledged to her are still unsure---about how they want to vote, about how others want to vote, etc. If the number of Democratic defectors gets big enough, will Pelosi and Obama really want to punish them all? Is Pelosi that eager to lose the speaker's chair?

John Boccieri's declaration that he will support the bill should not be unduly taken as a sign of momentum. Peter DeFazio (OR) is now saying that he can't support the bill because of issues with the funding of rural health-care. Nick Rahall of West Virginia is on the record as saying that he won't vote for the Senate bill as it stands due to its abortion language. Both voted in favor of the bill last time. No one even knew that DeFazio was thinking about not supporting the bill. DeFazio is no doubt trying to get more goodies from Pelosi, but the fact that he's even making this play shows that he knows she's vulnerable---and that she needs his vote, bad.

A key point to remember: if opponents of the Senate bill can keep all the Democrats who voted against the "Slaughter rule" (and, as far as I know, none of these Democrats have said that they will vote for the bill) and the remaining Democrats who are currently listed on FDL's list as definite "no" votes but did not vote against the "Slaughter rule," opponents of the Senate bill will have a majority. They don't even need to win over any other undecided or lean voters. The bill will be dead. I've included the list of firm "no" votes from FDL here:

24 Democrats who voted No in November:
Bobby Bright, Mike McIntyre, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Walt Minnick, Artur Davis, Chet Edwards, Frank Kratovil, Mike Ross, Dan Boren, Gene Taylor, Larry Kissell, Collin Peterson, Ike Skelton, Jim Marshall, Mike McMahon, Charlie Melancon, Tim Holden, Ben Chandler, Health Shuler, Rick Boucher, John Adler, Lincoln Davis, John Barrow, Travis Childers.

7 Democrats who voted Yes in November (“S” for confirmed Stupak bloc):
Stephen Lynch, Mike Arcuri, Bart Stupak (S), Dan Lipinski (S), Jerry Costello (S), Joe Donnelly (S), Steve Driehaus (S).

Here are the on-the-fence Democrats who voted against the "Slaughter rule":

Carney (PA)

Cooper (TN)

Dahlkemper (PA)

Giffords (AZ)

Kosmas (FL)

McNerney (CA)

Michaud (ME)

Michell (AZ)

Nye (VA)

Perriello (VA)

Teague (NM)

If he follows through on his pledge, Rahall would also be a "no." And there are plenty of undecided Democrats who voted in favor of the "Slaughter rule" in order to throw leadership a bone and still have some more time to think/bargain. They could switch, too.

Leadership is trying to start a stampede of support, and it is not above using the mirage of a majority to get it. Opponents of the Senate bill should keep focused on the facts of the matter---and hammer these facts home in an attempt to pierce the leadership bubble.

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