Jan 19, 2010

If Brown Wins...What's next???

If GOP state Sen. Scott Brown defeats Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley in Today's election, it would put the seat held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in the hands of a committed opponent of the bill and deprive Democrats of the 60-vote majority needed to pass health care in the Senate.

Democrats are considering their options for health care should they lose in Massachusetts. One possibility is for the House to approve the Senate-passed version of the bill, despite House Democrats' numerous qualms with that version. This would send the legislation straight to the president's desk -- under the current process, by contrast, negotiators are trying to hammer out a compromise that both chambers of Congress would have to approve.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday expressed a willingness to consider taking up the Senate bill.

"I think moving ahead on health care is essential. ... I think clearly the Senate bill is better than nothing," he said. Asked if it would be possible to pass legislation in the 15-day mandatory window during which the Massachusetts election is certified, Hoyer said, "Yes."

Other alternatives, like a process called 'reconciliation', are still on the table and would require only 51 votes in the Senate instead of 60.

But that would mean rewriting the bill in such a way it could be treated as a budget measure and that means issues like preventing insurance companies from excluding pre-existing conditions would be taken off the table. Pelosi on Monday told supporters in San Francisco that she is pressing ahead with her role in getting the legislation to President Obama's desk.

Democrats of all different stripes have strong objections to the Senate-passed version of the bill for all sorts of reasons, including 41 House Democrats who voted for tough restrictions on abortion that are not matched in the Senate bill. This could very well be the first sign of the breakdown of the solid Democrat snowplow shoving this ObamaCare down America's throat.

Democrats would be better off starting over from scratch and inviting Republicans to draft a bill that will win actual bipartisan support — one that will spread the responsibility to all incumbents, and that will necessarily be smaller in scope. More Democrats seem to understand this, and continued efforts by Pelosi and Obama to force them to wear an obvious albatross around their necks in an election year will only undermine their claim to leadership. Expect a back-bencher revolt in the House to strip away the rest of these options in the coming days if Scott Brown wins the election, and for Democrats to quietly decide on a “hard pivot” instead to the economy.

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