This week may provide the answer to the big political question of 2010: how many Democrats are willing to walk the plank for President Obama’s healthcare “reform” plan?
There may not be as many as the president and Speaker Pelosi think. And some of them apparently aren’t among the “Stupak Dozen,” the anti-abortion Dems who have already declared themselves against the bill.
As the March 29 Easter recess approaches, time is running out on Speaker Pelosi’s plan to get a vote on the Senate-passed bill, warts and all. House Dems are being asked to bet their future on Pelosi and Obama. Pelosi – who apparently thinks of herself as the H. Rider Haggard character She Who Must Be Obeyed — has declared her willingness to lose the majority (meaning 40 Democratic seats) in order to pass the bill. And the president seems equally determined. He has other things he wants to do this year, and they’re not going to be any more popular with the voters.
Pelosi and Obama understand that if the vote is delayed again, voters will have two weeks to do their own arm-twisting on members returning home for what is sure to be something other than a vacation. Which is why the heat is so high that even some of the Stupak group may fall into line.
But two things may yet prevent success. First, was the Senate Democrats’ reaffirmation of their desire to maintain undisturbed amazingly corrupt deals such as Mary Landrieu’s “Second Louisiana Purchase,” which were supposedly going to be taken out of the “final” healthcare measure by the reconciliation bill. That was predictable. Unexpected was the second development, the public declaration by almost a dozen House Dems that Obama isn’t welcome in their districts on the 2010 campaign trail.
Pelosi’s plan was dealt a severe blow last week when Senate Democrats declared their attachment to the legislative pornography that’s in their bill. Everything, from the “Cornhusker Kickback” – the price of Sen. Ben Nelson’s vote last year which he now wishes he hadn’t been paid — to the “Cadillac tax” on expensive healthcare plans which will hit union members hardest, may not be taken out in the “reconciliation” bill Pelosi plans to send to the Senate right after healthcare passes.
President Obama has bet his remaining political capital on the outcome. Delaying an overseas trip to remain in reach of arms that need to be twisted again, Obama is planning to turn up the heat on already-scorched Dems.
And while he does this, he’s also planning to send to the Hill a new bill to “fix” George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program to make it sufficiently ductile that the teachers’ unions will be able to get back to the good old days of not worrying about what, if anything, children learn.
To ice the cake, Obama is also about to announce an new immigration “reform” package that is likely to make the McCain-Bush-Kennedy bill of 2007 seem like a good deal. (This will probably come after the Easter recess, just as the Senate would be considering the “reconciliation” bill.)
Many Democrats must be wondering what he and Pelosi are thinking.
What kind of leader sends congressmen out on a kamikaze mission in an election year and right before a recess?
The kind of leader whose followers are diminishing in number.
It took George W. Bush more than four years before Republicans were – to be charitable – less than eager to have him campaign for them. But now, according to Politico, about a dozen House members are already hemming and hawing about bringing the Obama magic to their districts.
The report points to no-shows by Missouri Democrat Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan and Rep. Ross Carnahan (D-Mo) at a big Obama-keynoted fundraiser in St. Louis. Robin Carnahan is taking on Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo) this fall, and apparently doesn’t want the president there while her constituents are boiling over in opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan.
But worse — far worse for Pelosi — is the list of Dems who are slip-sliding away from the president.
The Politico story quotes a bunch. Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) is aw, shucksing at the idea of Obama coming to campaign: “This will be my second election with a Democratic incumbent president and what I’ve found is that their schedules are usually booked full and so I don’t expect him.”
Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind) — perhaps the most liberal of the supposedly conservative “Blue Dogs” said, “If he wants to come to my district, he’s welcome to come,” said Hill. But — and there’s a lot of Obama buts coming – Hill said, “I don’t plan on asking him to come because I know he’s a busy guy.”
Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) claims he just hadn’t thought about having the president campaign for him. First elected in 1982, Virginia’s Rick Boucher says he’s never invited anyone to campaign for him and he’s not starting now.
But if Boyd — like Hill and the others — weren’t thinking that Obama’s help would really hurt, he’d be begging for Obama to come.
I wonder what their response – and the others quoted by Politico – would have said to the question, “Do you want Speaker Pelosi to come and campaign for you?” Pelosi – according to the latest Rasmussen Poll – is viewed negatively by 64% of American voters. Obama hasn’t plumbed these depths, but his “strongly approve” rating is down to 27% and 42% “strongly disapprove.”
When House Democrats go to the floor to vote this week or next, Speaker Pelosi may be in for a shock. If Obama is unwelcome in a dozen districts, how do those members think they can explain a vote in favor of Obama’s healthcare plan?