The short version:
Target House Democrats much more than Senate Democrats in your anti-Obamacare campaigning, and do it NOW and do it hard.
The long version:
It’s going to be tough to be a Democrat up for election this year, and today, they may have outsmarted themselves and made it even tougher. I say this because today at the Health care Summit, they refused to exclude the nuclear option (reconciliation- the 51% , rather than filibuster-proof 60% Senate majority) in their attempts to force through Obamacare.
Reconciliation as a method of passing law is for what the name implies. It is a method of reconciling budget discrepancies resulting from the policy decisions and assumptions embraced in budget resolutions. Under the original design of the Budget Act, reconciliation had a fairly narrow purpose. It was expected to be used together with the second resolution adopted in the fall, and was to apply to a single fiscal year and be directed primarily at spending and revenue legislation acted on between the adoption of the first and second budget resolutions. With the adoption of the Byrd Rule of 1985, it was limited to applying to legislation affecting the budget that did not affect the budget or deficit more than ten years out. That was the reason the Bush tax cuts expired after ten years…. because they were passed using reconciliation. It was never intended to pass major legislation not specifically related to the budget. Of course, the Democrats now hold power, and should they collectively choose, can change the Byrd Rule and use it to enact Obamacare.
Since the election of Scott Brown, reconciliation is the only possible means of getting Obamacare through the Senate.
Even though a number of “moderate” House Democrats have significant issues with parts of the President’s plan (essentially the Senate plan – only more expensive because certain ‘sweetheart’ deals like the Louisiana Purchase and Nebraska Kickback were made universal rather than individual bribes to certain specific Senators), Democrats in general feel they have to do something, because they have stood on this issue as a matter of principle since the ’08 election.
They feel, in other words, that as bad as things look, they will be worse off if they don’t pass it, than they will if they do – even knowing the majority of Americans oppose it. In other words they evaluate their political chances as bad if they pass it, worse if they pass it using the nuclear option, but worst of all if they don’t pass it. Their best chances, as they see it, are to get the bill passed, without having to resort to reconciliation to do so. They see it thus because they feel that if they stick to their guns, a lot of people will come to accept it (as they have Social Security and Medicare) once it is in place.
They are wrong for two reasons. 1.) Only the penalties of increased government control of health care go into effect right away. The benefits don’t start for several years down the road. 2.) The American public is generally awake to the fact that we cannot afford another major entitlement program whatever the benefits.
Nonetheless, they are going to try.
If you want to defeat Obamacare in its current form (and cause them to start over and consider all options, including those presented by the Republicans), all you have to do is present them with a worse alternative as a fait accompli than any of the above. What is that? Simple. The worst possible position for Democrats to be in this fall is for them to have failed to pass the bill despite exercising the ‘nuclear option’. Under that scenario, they will be seen as political failures not only by the right, but by the far left, and the fact that they tried to use the nuclear option will irritate Independents as much as if they had succeeded by using it.
How do we set them up for that circumstance? Simple again. We need to now heavily target House Members regarding our opposition to the bill. If the Senate passes the bill using reconciliation, but the House doesn’t pass it, Democrats will be in the worst possible position this Fall. Knowing that, a heavy campaign to change the minds of ‘swing’ House Democrats (those from red states or districts, or those who already oppose certain aspects of the Senate plan – like those who oppose an abortion clause) is all it will take to keep the Democrats from even using the nuclear option. If they count the House votes and they can’t be sure of getting passage, they won’t bother to use reconciliation in the Senate, and without that the bills dies, once and for all.
A list of thirty ‘swing’ Representatives and their phone numbers can be found at: http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/
Call them, write them, fax them, email them, do anything you can to get their attention to the fact that Obamacare is not wanted. President Obama has said he plans to look over options for four to six weeks (i.e. he plans to do all the convincing of ‘swing’ House members he can) before pushing for an up/down vote on the issue (i.e. employing the nuclear option). The sooner we get on this particular horse the better. With enough pressure now, we are in the final stretch of functionally eliminating this monster as a real possibility in our near future.