Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns



If I had to bet, I think that the Democrats will find enough votes in the House of Representatives to pass the Senate version of Obamacare.  I suspect that status rewards will play a role in the switches.  I was thinking presidential appointments, academic sinecures, and awards ceremonies.  Matthew Yglesias suggests another status reward.  House members who vote no and lose reelection as a result will be remembered as Heroes of the Revolution and lauded by liberal historians in 2060. 

So lets break this down.  Why might these no votes be inclined to vote against Obamacare?  I can think of two major reasons.  First, because they might object to Obamacare on the merits of the policy.  Second, because they respect (or fear) the perceived wishes of their constituents who oppose Obamacare.  How many members of the House of Representatives would be willing to put aside their substantive objections and/or the will of their constituents not for rewards in this world, but in the hopes of gaining a posthumous favorable mention from some liberal-leaning historian?  My first guess is too many.

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 15 Comments

I expect you're right, hard as that will be to swallow. Only then will find out what's in the legislation.

Or we will all be cursing Obama as we try to get ourselves out of the mess he landed us in. No. Yglesias is right that Obama will get all the credit (or blame). Even if there is blame, what we will hear from the Left about American National Health (which we get because what is being proposed will not work for long without a single-payer system and forced participation to fund it) is that the idea was a good one; it only failed in the execution. I have been hearing the same thing about socialism all of my life. “If Lenin had lived a little longer….” Bah!

Around about 1984, Morton Kondracke spoke to a member of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's staff and asked for an explanation of why the Senator's political views had changed so over the previous five years. The answer, "He hates being attacked in the New York Times, more than you can believe. To have filled Scoop's shoes would have meant a lifetime of this".

That is a good point. I don't think I have ever felt sorry for Dennis Kucinich before.

If they were close, why would they float something as bizarre as the Slaughter strategy?

Maybe the Slaughter move is a ploy -- so awful, so appalling, that Democrats will fall into line rather than use it and be saddled with it into the next election. Voting for Obamacare might be easier to explain to the voters than bypassing the democratic process.

No need to feel sorry for Kucinich, Kate. He's a principled progressive who, interestingly, keeps getting re-elected.

I considered that, but the public discussion of the strategy makes them look so awful: Are the Democrats really stoking the politics of fear against their own members? That would stigmatize them in voters' minds even worse than passing Obamacare. Why couldn't the Slaughter talk even induce some leaners to vote against the bill? Kill it cleanly and let's try again--rather than pass it under dubious circumstances.

The other option with Slaughter is that it will go the Court, and the Court would likely rule it unconstitutional. Then Obama would (as he did at the SOTU) rally the country (or part of it) against the Court, including Mrs. Clarence Thomas. I would rather like that fight, in fact.

Ken, I think that they are trying to gull a couple of wavering Democrats into thinking that voting for the Slaughter Solution (being more complicated than a simple yes vote) will hurt them less in their home districts. I think that you, me and Kate can agree that any House Democrat who believes that is delusional. But maybe some are that delusional. Picture a House Democrats who is in agony at the constant pressure, threats and bribe offers they are getting from the White House and the congressional leadership. They would love to just vote yes and get the pressure off, but they would also want some glimmer of hope that they will hold on their House districts. They are ready to believe almost anyone who tells them that they can vote yes on Obamacare and keep their House seats too. I doubt that the Slaughter Strategy will be what makes the difference in the end, but all the current machinations in the House are some combination of trying to dull the survival instincts of wavering members, while offering them attractive options if they vote yes and the worst happens .

That makes sense, Pete--you seem to think that's the plan then--but the obvious response is to declare all the Dems guilty of the worst excesses of the plan. What if they polled everyone afterward and found out a majority opposed the bill! I would have thought the difference might be made up by ambassadorial offers, President of University X, "of counsel" at a law firm, official consort of Mrs. Biden, etc.--but if so, why spring this Slaughter business at all, unless they really want to do it?

Ken, I think that the plan was for the marginal Democrats to to be able to say that "hey I didn't vote for the Senate bill, I voted for some other bill that had all kinds of cool stuff" and hope the people in the home district buy it. Now I think that Peolosi knows quite well that such a strategy would ever fly at election time but she might have thought that desperate, conflicted, marginal district members would buy it. The Slaughter Strategy wasn't designed so much to fool the public, as to fool a small number of House Democrats into thinking that they could fool the public by voting "deem".

And some of this is to fool a small number of people at the margin. "Hey, this Slaughter thing might imporve your chances of reelection A LITTLE and if you still lose, there are all kinds of loaves and fishes for former congressmen who voted the right way on Obamacare."

The reaction would taint the Dems for decades--Republicans (not to mention Dem primary challengers) would insist on loyalty oaths to the (formerly) proper procedure, etc. The need to resort to the tactic would taint Obama et al. more than failure. And they might not even get health care, if the Supreme Court struck it down.

Ken, I think that it will hurt some Democrats in marginal constituencies in 2010 but less so later on.

Is it still true that the "benefits" of the health care plan will not go into effect for a couple of years while the financing of it begins right away? If the plan passes, that aspect of is truly gag-worthy and in combination with the political hoo-hah we are discussing here ought to help elect a lot of Republicans later this year. Except if....

Someone just sent me an email about some passage in the Senate plan inserted by Harry Reid that makes the plan unrepealable. This sounds silly to me, but then the Slaughter Strategy sounds silly and impossible, too.

This could be a real test of the power of the Court, couldn't it? I mean, if the Democrats retain control of the elective branches and continue to "deem" this sort of health care into effect, what could the Court do about it?

Kucinich has enriched himself at the taxpayers' expense by running for president, taking federal campaign dollars, pocketing the remainders after low-key campaigns, which is all perfectly legal, but seems slimy to all but his friends. I assume that is all part of his principled Progressivism, as is his "Yes" vote on this "imperfect bill". I wonder what he gets for it.

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