Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Should They Lose the 60th Vote...

The NYTimes considers the Plan B options for Dems if they lose in Mass. today.

1) "[P]ersuade House Democrats to approve the health care bill that the Senate adopted on Christmas Eve, obviating the need for an additional Senate vote.... Democrats could move forward with the Senate-passed bill and then push through a raft of changes during the upcoming federal budget process." This is the best option for the Dems, but a Democratic House aide relates that, as of now, "the House view of the Senate bill had not changed."

2) "[T]ry to pass a revised health care bill in the Senate before the new Massachusetts senator is sworn in." But, this tactic "would prompt howls from Republicans and accusations of foul play." A legislative victory (of any sort) might be worth the reprisals likely to follow such an obvious smack at the prevailing public opinion (as will be indicated by today's Mass. vote), but this definitely puts the Dems between a rock and a hard place. 

3) "[T]ry to use a procedural tactic known as budget reconciliation that would require only 51 votes." But, "budget reconciliation would most likely require scaling back the scope of the health care changes." And it would, again, seem to the public that the Dems had done something underhanded.

It is probably noteworthy that the Times does not even bother to offer up persuading any of the GOP as an option.

If they realize that they are going to fall short of 60 votes, I expect that other Dems will jump ship in an attempt to save their political careers back home. Even Harry Reid would likely see the benefit of shifting gears in order to preserve a few more Democratic seats in November, rather than having vulnerable members go down with the ship by voting lock-step for a lost cause. But, perhaps I am being too generous....

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