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The Best Christmas Present Ever: Senator DeMint Objects to the Appointment of the Conferees

When Senator DeMint engineered, and Republican Leader McConnell actually objected to the appointment of the conferees, he was really handing the ball off to the left wingers — progressives if you will — and now they have their shot to either hold their own clan members who are against the Senate compromises and force them to vote No, or have their policy demands be ignored and take the crumbs from Senator Nelson’s and Senator Lieberman’s table.

Now, because of the Senator DeMint’s objection, unless the House votes for the Senate bill unchanged — which is highly unlikely (see below) — then the Senate ObamaCare bill must be amended on the House floor to gain the votes they need to pass it on the House floor. And because of Senator DeMint’s objection to the appointment of the conferees, there will be no conference, or conference report.

If the House amends the Senate bill, they then have to send the amended bill back to the Senate — where all the 60 vote margin cloture votes still apply — cloture on the motion to proceed, and cloture to end the filibuster and cloture on any amendment.

Do I believe that this objection to the appointment of the conferees will kill ObamaCare? Yes, if the progressives or those 64 House Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment do not roll over and play dead.

This monkey wrench may explain why the White House is putting out the word that it wants the health care bill to pass the House after the State of the Union, in February.

You all can decide whether the DeMint objection could be the kiss of death to ObamaCare, but I offer the following to convince you that it is:

If you recall, the Speaker repeatedly and consistently has publicly and privately stated: I can’t pass a health care bill without a public option.

The Speaker is now changing her tune and saying everything is fine, please ignore what I said weeks ago. Now, the Speaker is essentially saying that Senator Nelson, Senator Lieberman and the White House has convinced all her members that its OK to vote for a bill without a public option.

Really? That theory will now be put to the test — and the initial reactions of the left are not promising for the Speaker and the White House.

Jane Hamsher, progressive blogger and FireDogLake leader, has been for months laying the ground work for the left’s plan of action if and when the Democrats dropped the public option. She and her colleagues have been busy, busy, busy lining up No votes — having members of Congress sign the FireDogLake pledge to vote No if there is no public option (note the July, 2009 date) and then adding the signatories to their Health Care Heros Page on ActBlue (the liberal’s netroots fundraising page.)

In mid-November Hamsher predicted that her health care heros the left could stop any health bill in the House that did not include the public option:

“progressives only have to muster 1 more vote against the bill for every one that leadership picks up when they lose the public option. Can the progressives hold 11 votes against any bill without a public option? Even if Gao (the lone Republican who voted Yes in the House) stays in the “aye” column, I think they can do it.

“In reality, I think they only need to muster more like 5-8, because the GOP is going to go straight at everyone who is vulnerable between now and then, and will probably be able to recruit strong challengers to many in the post November election period, which is when that kind of thing starts to happen. Which should scare some of the freshmen, and probably some sophomores too, into the “no on anything” column. So the absolute best, most optimistic outlook for passing a bill in the House without a public option means that 13 or fewer progressive votes could stop it [emphasis added]. Well, here’s 16.”

There are those on the right that believe the left are paper tigers, who will roll over for their leadership and the White House. However, given that the progressives are now hearing that some of their arch-enemy Blue Dogs may vote yes on a unchanged Senate bill, and the polling on ObamaCare is getting lower and lower at every stage in proceeds through in the legislative process, it means now that the left really does have their opportunity to prove they have some political power, and can deliver – or not.

Here is what the Co-Chairwoman of the “Pro-Choice Caucus,” who is absent from the list of the FireDogLake health care hero’s list, said yesterday:

“Slaughter argued that while the House bill is far from perfect, the Senate bill’s exclusion of a public option, along with abortion funding restrictions and other measures, make the bill undeserving of a vote. Specifically, Slaughter said, the Senate bill would charge seniors higher premiums, would fail to nix health insurers’ antitrust exemption and would not go far enough in extending coverage to people in the U.S.

“Supporters of the weak Senate bill say ‘just pass it — any bill is better than no bill,’ ” Slaughter wrote. “I strongly disagree — a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.”

So, does the “Pro-Choice” Caucus agree to abortion restrictions?

And does the Hispanic Caucus agree to no health care benefits in the bill for illegal immigrants? Here’s Politico’s take on the issue on Tuesday:

“When the White House tried to pressure the House to change its immigration provisions to resemble the Senate bill, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus revolted and threatened to vote against the legislation. While they managed to secure a victory at the time, the fact that both the Senate leadership and White House support the prohibition makes it pretty likely that the Senate restrictions will remain in the final bill.”

Since there is an individual mandate, will the left succeed in getting an employer mandate?

Do the unions allow their main benefit — health care — to be taxed? Especially since they have been trading pay raises for health care coverage for almost a decade? Now, are they going to agree to those pay raises in the form of health benefits be taxed?

Will the 60 Democrats who signed the letter to the Speaker threatening to vote no if there is no public option, roll over and walk away from their threat? There is no public option in the Senate bill, no trigger, no co-op — no political fig leaf at all that the left can hide behind, none whatsoever. They either cave on their threat to vote No, or they force the public option back in and call Senator Lieberman’s, Senator Nelson’s and the White House bluff.

And, given the CBO’s double counting of savings error — and revised deficit projections — do the Blue Dogs ignore the deficit hit and vote yes?

Ultimately, if the progressives do not deliver the No votes to kill the Senate bill, then they will never be taken seriously on health care again. To wit, the left could not produce a single No vote in the Senate — and if they don’t kill the House bill, well then it is crystal clear that when it really counts, their members are mush — and run for the tall grass at the first sign of a real fight. The left’s political credibility is on the line.

Here is Hamsher’s take on their list of No votes, and whether they will stand strong or cut and run-away:

“Now I know where the strengths and weaknesses of the list are, and they do too. But you’re talking about a group of people who have been screwed over, disrespected, spat upon, forced to vote against everything they believe in over and over and over again “for the good of the team,” who have had to kneel down and get stomped on so their Blue Dog caucus breatheren can collect all the campaign cash and the district pork and the “wins” that will get them re-elected. On the war supplemental. On Waxman-Markey. And now on choice.

“I imagine that list of progressives who will vote “no” on any bill that doesn’t have a public option is somewhat larger and stronger after the Stupak debacle, because progressives who hail from strong Democratic districts once again look weak, ineffectual and unprincipled to their constituents after they voted for a bill that included an amendment that is certainly the worst attack on choice since before Roe v. Wade became law. They’re ready to take a stand.

“So unless someone tells me how Maxine Waters, Jerry Nadler, Raul Grijalva, Lynn Woolsey, John Conyers and Keith Ellison suddenly abandon everything they’ve worked for and take one for the team just so they can be led around by the nose by J0e Leiberman to compensate for Harry Reid’s weak leadership and Rahm Emanuel’s decision to drive health care reform into a ditch, I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that no health care bill will pass without a public option. Period. Because the list of “no” votes in the House is already packed with Democratic members who think they’ll lose their seats if they vote for any health care bill. That list is pretty much uncrackable — and it only gets bigger and stronger from hereon out.”

We have heard this all before, only to have Senators Landrieu and Nelson literally bought off. Do the House members roll over and play dead on key issues that they care about — just to get a politically toxic ObamaCare bill?

There were 39 no votes in the House on their bill, and 40 No votes are needed to kill the bill. The conservatives will deliver the bulk of the no votes, will the progressives deliver any?

Will the House do as Senator Kerry demands? Senator Kerry says the House “will probably have to accept a compromise bill that reflects the Senate’s work.”

The whole thing comes down to whether the left rolls over and plays dead, or not.

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