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Harry Reid and the ObamaCare Squeeze

Harry Reid is in a bit of a pickle.  In the 111th Congress, with the aid of turncoat party switcher “Benedict” Arlen Specter, he had a supermajority and could ram through whatever he pleased.  In the 112th Congress, he no longer has “Benedict” Arlen and he no longer has much beyond a mere simple majority.  Nonetheless, he has a (very limited) majority and he therefore controls what bills come to the floor.  He has the power to hide whatever he wants and basically has the ability to personally “veto” anything coming out of the U.S. House.

This becomes a problem with anything, whether it’s outright repeal of ObamaCare or improvements that might remove some of the onerous provisions of the multi-thousand-page boondoggle that the Democrats rammed through last year.  We need to see where Senators stand via their votes; we do not need them hiding behind Harry Reid.

So, on January 19th, there was a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House that voted to repeal ObamaCare.  (We’ll have to see the fate that awaits the wayward Democrats’ committee positions and other things should Pelosi decide to punish them for failing to stick with the herd.)  With Reid in charge of the Senate, a bill to repeal ObamaCare will not see the light of day.  I say this is silly.  He has nothing to worry about.  Let the Senators go on the record.  Should it really get repealed in the Senate, there is nothing to fear here.  Chicken Little, the sky will not fall.  Obama is available and can veto this thing faster than anyone can say the word “shellacking.”

With the ease of a presidential veto in mind, Reid can’t claim he’s hiding the bill to prevent repeal.  Ultimately, his never letting this bill see the light of day is simply an action to protect certain Democrat Senators up for reelection in 2012.  The list goes something like this:

- Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
– Bill Nelson (Florida)
– Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
– Bob Casey, Jr. (Pennsylvania)
– Jim Webb (Virginia)
– Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)
– Jon Tester (Montana)
– Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
– Joe Manchin (West Virginia)
– Herb Kohl (Wisconsin)

I used to include Kent Conrad of North Dakota in the list, but he announced his retirement.  However, any actions by him will affect the outcome of the election for his successor.  On second thought, why bother?  That seat will likely go Republican in 2012 no matter what Conrad does from this point on.

Of course, Reid’s “protection” in and of itself is an argument to defeat these Senators in 2012.  If not for them, Reid would not have control of the Senate.  He would not have the power to shove bills under the rug.  There are only a small number of Republicans up for reelection in 2012 and with the exception of Scott Brown (who may as well be a Democrat himself), most are in safe seats.

Reid’s attempt to prevent the American people from having the opportunity to see where their Senators stand on repealing ObamaCare via a vote only gives Republicans more fodder to campaign against Democrats.  He should just let the bill happen, let the Senators pontificate (maybe one of them will have an offensive gaffe like the one from Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen?), and then vote.  He can rely on Obama’s veto to keep ObamaCare in place.  No way will the Senate be able to override a presidential veto in its current makeup.

Each Democrat in a vulnerable seat can be tied to Harry Reid by their opponent.  Defeat that Democrat and it helps in the effort to take control of the Senate away from Reid.  Further, Republicans cannot be blamed if the economy does not get better between now and 2012.  Afterall, Harry Reid controls the Senate and he blocks legislation coming out of the Republican controlled US House.

So let’s get back to the list of potentially vulnerable Democrat Senators up for reelection in 2012.  With the exception possibly of West Virginia’s popular Joe Manchin, the rest of the Democrats on the above list are in a quandry.  For those from red states (Claire McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Jim Webb, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown), voting according to the will of their constituents would mean they’d have to vote to repeal.  They would be branded as flip floppers who can’t stake out a position.  Worse yet, they might fall out of favor with their Democrat friends from “safe” areas like Chicago, the Northeast, and the West Coast.  We can’t have that!  Sticking with their party on ObamaCare was important enough for Blanche Lincoln and Russ Feingold to risk their seats —- and lose.  (Okay, Russ Feingold can be given a pass.  Wisconsin is blue enough that he likely felt he was in a safe seat.  Blanche Lincoln, on the other hand, did not have that luxury.)

To put Harry Reid in the minority, there needs to be a minimum of three flipped seats.  Actually, the seat occupied by Scott Brown will likely flip back to the Democrats.  Therefore, four other seats have to change.  As things stand right now, it is likely that North Dakota will elect a Republican Senator in 2012.  Therefore, only three others need to flip to the Republicans.

Let’s see.  With five red states (Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Virginia, Ohio) leaving their Democrat Senators on shaky ground, flipping three shouldn’t be hard.  Claire McCaskill is really in a difficult situation as voters in Missouri gave a thumbs down to ObamaCare AND just put in a Republican Senator in 2010.  In Ohio, the people elected both a Republican governor AND Senator in 2010.  In Nebraska, to say Mr. Cornhusker Kickback himself is “unpopular” is an understatement.  Virginia’s 2009 gubernatorial election resulted in a Republican win after two terms of Democrats.  Montana elected Jon Tester in a Democrat wave in 2006, a political lifetime ago.  But should the three not be achieved via these five red states, there are other chances.

Look at Wisconsin.  This is certainly a blue state.  In Wisconsin, long term Senator Russ Feingold was defeated.  In addition, a Republican governor was elected.  Could Herb Kohl be the “next Russ Feingold” in Wisconsin?

Pennsylvania had a similar set of circumstances except no incumbent was up in 2010 for governor or senator.  Pennsylvania is interesting.  Robert Casey Jr. ran on his father’s coattails.  He got in via the 2006 Democrat wave as a fresh face.  But now he has a record of voting with his Democrat colleagues to load debt onto future generations…..those who are not aborted.  Speaking of that, Casey ran as a “pro-life” candidate since his father was a strong pro-life Democrat.  His record shows he is nothing more than the template run of the mill pro-abortion Democrat.

Then there is Florida.  Longtime Senator Bill Nelson is up for reelection.  Florida is a swing state that voted for a Republican Senate candidate and Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2010.  Bill Nelson was reelected in the 2006 wave.  But as Florida is a large retiree state and some of them are none too thrilled with ObamaCare, he may not easily cruise to reelection.

West Virginia is a fairly conservative state that happens to vote for extreme Democrats like Jay Rockefeller.  Likely, Joe Manchin will win, but as he campaigned against ObamaCare, he should have the opportunity to vote to repeal it.  Harry Reid, his “new boss,” is denying him that opportunity.  In any event his Republican opponent will have fodder to work with on this.

Finally, there is Michigan.  This is a state that has been devastated by the recession and doesn’t seem to be doing much better these days.  They just elected a Republican governor following a term limited Democrat.  They might be looking for “change we can believe in” in their US Senate representation as well.

Looking at these ten seats, a minimum of four defeated Democrat incumbents is not out of the question.  So, I suggest that Harry Reid keep doing what he’s doing.  He’s the gift that keeps on giving.  He will demote himself to Minority Leader status —- IF the Democrats let him keep his leadership position in the 113th Congress.

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