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While unemployment is still high, Democrats focus (still) on healthcare.

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Dissention Among the Democratic Ranks Over Healthcare Vote

While unemployment is still high, Democrats focus (still) on healthcare.

The unemployment rate remains at 9.7 percent according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers released Friday.  The economy bled more jobs as a reported 36,000 additional Americans joined the ranks of the unemployed.  That figure does not take into account those temporary hires for the Census, those underemployed who have taken part-time work or those who have simply given up looking for work.  Some estimates have the actual unemployment rate as high as 17 percent when these factors are taken into account.

So, of course, Democrats are still focused on their multi-trillion dollar government takeover of heath care.  What else would they be doing?

House Democrats currently enjoy a 77-seat majority, which is expected to be reduced today to 76 by the resignation of Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment by a male staffer.  Massa, a liberal, originally voted “no” on the House bill because the government takeover did not go far enough fast enough for his liking.  

Even with that “no” removed from the vote count, Democrats still don’t have the votes to pass the bill.  If they did, they’d be voting today.

There’s an excellent whip report from House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) available online we covered in late February that breaks down the multitude of vulnerabilities suffered by Democrats being asked to cast the “yes” vote that will likely cost them their jobs.

And those vulnerabilities are taking a toll.

The House passed its version of the government takeover of health care back on November 7 by a vote of 220-215. Since that vote, the status of four of the “yes” member votes has changed drastically.  Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) died and Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Neil Abercrombie (D-Hi.) have retired and Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) says he’s now a “no” vote.   

With Massa pulling one out of the “no” column, the count would appear to total 216-215 in favor of passage.  (But that discounts the votes of the Stupak-Pitts group, more about which in a minute.)

It’s safe to assume that count is not currently holding.  If Speaker Pelosi had the votes, the bill would be scheduled for a floor vote today the moment Massa’s resignation becomes effective.

It’s also safe to assume that to pass the House bill back in November, the ban on abortion funding was essential.  If it wasn’t, there is no possible way the vigorously pro-abortion Pelosi would have allowed the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that barred the federal funding of abortion into the new government-run health care scheme.  Government-funded abortion has long been the goal of abortion proponents most visibly when eugenics stalwart Margaret Sanger first founded Planned Parenthood based on the notion that it’s better to be dead than to be an economically-challenged minority. (See the Planned Parenthood’s History of Eugenics section in this HUMAN EVENTS special report.)

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the Democrat co-author of the amendment, appears to be standing firm as a “no” vote claiming to have 11 others who are willing to take the bill down over the language in the Senate bill allowing the federal funding of abortion.  Regardless of whether these silent members will join him, Stupak’s publicly proclaimed “no” vote puts the hard unofficial count at 215-216 against passage with the current pro-abortion language.

As we reported in HUMAN EVENTS Friday afternoon House Democrats are being forced to walk the plank again with no possible guarantee the Senate will vote to make the much ballyhooed “fixes” to their own bill through an unprecedented abuse of the budget reconciliation procedure that threatens to irreparably damage the Senate.  Since the House must first pass the Senate-passed health care bill unchanged, there is simply no compelling (or legally binding) reason for the Senate to actually pass changes to their own bill once it passes the House — regardless of what they promise.  That’s a big “trust me” from a bunch of politicians.

But there’s even more chaos for House Democrats feeling the heat from constituents.

Today’s National Journal (subscription required) reports member mood swings and lost pro-life votes are causing a deficit of roughly 3 dozen votes Pelosi will need to replace.  The explosive report cites an anonymous senior Democrat member of the House claiming growing caucus unrest and resentment.

From the report:

But further complicating her efforts, say several House members, is a rising animosity within the Caucus toward a perceived lack of sympathy from Pelosi and other House members from relatively safe districts in CA — and who hold so many key chairmanships and others leadership posts — to the election fears of their colleagues from other states.

"Across the Caucus, there is growing dissatisfaction and resentment — not so much directed at Pelosi — but with her cadre of CA liberals seen as continually driving her House agenda, regardless of the hits the rest of us will have to take," said one House Democrat.

"She seems to only be listening to this small cadre, and the rank and file are expected to simply fall in line," complained a senior Democrat; he said this is contributing to Caucus animosity over the prospect of being asked once again to walk the plank on a healthcare bill, after already passing a bill last year, on top of climate legislation establishing a cap-and-trade emissions program.

"It does not feel like 1994," said the senior Democrat, referring to the year that Democrats were last swept from the House majority. "In 1994, we didn’t see it coming."

"This year, we do see it coming," said the member of potentially heavy Democratic seat losses. "The challenge for Pelosi, and us, is how do we continue to move forward in a climate of fear?"

That’s an excellent question.  Who do Democrats fear more, Pelosi or their constituents?

For those interested in a more detailed blow-by-blow of public statements, Real Clear Politics’ Jay Cost is keeping a running daily tally based on public statements made by those “no” votes that could switch to “yes” or vice versa.

Their latest count (as of deadline):

Democrats Who Voted Nay in November
          Very Hard to Persuade: 25
          Hard to Persuade: 6
          Persuadable: 6
     Democrats Who Voted Yea in November
          Suggested Might Now Vote Nay: 11
          Other Possible Stupak Democrats: 12

Which leaves Democrats (and consequently the rest of us) still talking about the $2.5 trillion government takeover of health care for the foreseeable future.

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Connie Hair writes a weekly column for HUMAN EVENTS. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

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