Patterico's Pontifications


ObamaCare: Odds, anyone?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:57 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Before Saturday’s Senate vote to proceed to debate on HarryCare, the Senate GOP pointed to a Congressional Research Service study showing that 97% of bills subject to a cloture vote to begin debate ultimately pass. In reality, over time, cloture motions have been increasing and spreading to relatively routine bills. The exception in the study dealt with gun rights, and the Democrats’ attempted takeover of the US healthcare system is just as much a hot-button issue. Moreover, George Mitchell managed to get ClintonCare to the Senate floor in 1994, only to be forced into retreat weeks later. By buying nto the hype over Saturday’s procedural vote, the Senate GOP hopes to hang it around the necks of vulnerable Dems in 2010, but they also risked demoralizing the rank-and-file.

Outside Congress, Keith Hennessey updated his odds last week:

I am lowering from 60% to 50% my projection for the success of comprehensive health care reform.

1. Pass a partisan comprehensive bill through the House and through the regular Senate process with 60, leading to a law; (was 40% –> 30%)

2. Pass a partisan comprehensive bill through the House and through the reconciliation process with 51 Senate Democrats, leading to a law; (steady at 20%)

3. Fall back to a much more limited bill that becomes law; (was 20% –> 15%)

4. No bill becomes law this Congress. (was 20% –> 35%)

I think there is zero chance a bill makes it to the President’s desk before 2010. If a bill were to become law, I would anticipate completion in late January or even February.


I have lowered my projection of Leader Reid succeeding for three reasons:

1. Pretty much everything has to go right for him to win on cloture in mid-December. He has no more wiggle room on the schedule, and new intra-Democrat policy fights are popping up.

2. I think his members are going to get beat up about health care and jobs over Thanksgiving recess, then return to Washington to face another bad jobs day Friday the 4th.

3. If moderates demand large substantive concessions for their votes, liberals like Senators Rockefeller and Boxer may refuse. They may tell Reid they will oppose cloture if the bill moves toward the center, and instead advocate abandoning regular order and starting a clean reconciliation process in January. House liberals might join this effort.

I have long thought ObamaCare to be a 50/50 proposition at best, so I am heartened that a former insider like Hennessey has dialed back his odds. I still would quibble with a few of his assessments.

My primary quibble would be with his assessment of reconciliation as an option. Reid has currently taken reconciliation off the table. That in itself would not be a big deal, but we are also starting to hear lefties like Sen. Tom Harkin explain why reconciliation would not be a good thing for liberals. I also think that Hennessey underestimates how bad it would look politically if — after several weeks of normal debate — the Democrats tried to shift to reconciliation. Even the establishment media would be unable to avoid the narrative that Democrats were trying to ram an unpopular bill through the Senate after failing under the normal rules. Public opinion polling consistently shows very bad numbers for a “go it alone” approach. It is hard to think of anything the Democrats could do that would instantly make ObamaCare 10-20% more unpopular than to try passing it via reconciliation.

My secondary quibble would be with the notion that no bill is more likely than a minor bill. If the Democrats fail on a comprehensive bill, they will (imho) fall back to a minor bill of some sort. The reasons for this merit their own post, but we can start with the Democrats’ perception that they will be punished (at least by their base) if they fail to pass something.

As Byron York noted, the extraordinary part of Saturday’s vote was that it was as tough as it was for Reid to get debate started. The path gets no easier from here.


22 Responses to “ObamaCare: Odds, anyone?”

  1. Republicans could start demanding death panels and rationing for all government financed health options right now and kill the entire Obamacare thing. Just sayin’.

    j curtis (5126e4)

  2. I just wonder to what extent the dirty socialist media can lull these neo-fascists into a false sense of security. Watch how shamelessly, how wantonly, the AP’s bought and paid for propaganda slut Jeannine Aversa works the pole in this random little article today:

    For example, Joy McGavin, 26, of Pittston, Pa., says she will cut back on holiday gifts by a few hundred dollars this year and pay for everything with cash.

    “Family — nieces and nephews — we won’t be able to afford this year,” says the stay-at-home mother of three. They now shop at Big Lots — not Wal-Mart. “They’re too expensive this year,” she says.

    Her husband, Robert, had been working two-full time jobs, as a mechanic at a garage and at an auto parts store. Recently his retail job was cut back to part time. “We don’t have as much as we had last year,” McGavin laments. They don’t have health insurance and have racked up major medical bills.*

    You just keep on lamenting, “stay-at-home mother of three.”

    But there’s a very real danger a dimwit like a Mary Landrieu might could read this and think she’s got cover.

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  3. happeyfeet, it’s so strange to read propaganda like what you quoted. I read that and think this is great news! These parents are shopping at a more affordable place to afford a more traditional lifestyle where dad works hard to feed his family, moms stays home to raise the children, and giving gifts to nieces is a much lower priority than medical bills. These people are doing what it takes to pay their own way through life, and they are much better off than the parents who make different choices.

    So they have medical expenses. Yes, we live in a world where everything but medicine has gotten much cheaper. If we took these medical bills away from this family, they would still have to be paid by somebody. What is the benefit of that? To this family, I don’t see much benefit. Ultimately, forcing this family, and all other families, to pay for medical care in a less direct fashion, will rob everyone, make decisions about medical care more fiscally carefree, and generally make a huge mess and stifle innovation.

    So that this family and many others have more money to spend on Christmas presents? And know they have to keep voting (D) for their cheese.

    Dustin (cf255c)

  4. Have you ever been to a Big Lots? My friend J says the one we went to on Lankershim isn’t how they all are. This one was very dirty. They had these Crayola branded beverages I was gonna get but there was a line and I left without getting anything.

    I see your point, though. But Jeannine was still trying to exploit these good people for her own nefarious dirty socialist agenda, and it’s wrong.

    I should have been more careful in how I looked at that.

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  5. The Senate will water down the most onerous parts, but vote it out before the end of this year. Slam dunk. Only the most statist pols will be named to the conference and it will come back pretty much as the House wants it.

    The Senators who need cover would have it. It’s on BHO’s desk by the end of January.

    Cloture was everything.

    Ed from SFV (1333b1)

  6. happyfeet, big lots sucks.

    If this family is having a hard time with money, it’s got little to do with healthcare, and a lot to do with the economy in general. Great healthcare is expensive, but so is a nice house, or great food. You gotta get out there and take care of your family by learning, working, etc. This America makes that harder than yesterday’s America.

    It’s much harder to start or profit from a small business, and it’s going to get harder. Which means a much bleaker jobs environment. At the end of the day, an America were many can start profitable small businesses is the ultimate healthcare reform.

    Anyway, big lots, family dollar, dollar general… all cheapo places. And crappy cheapo Christmases in a great family with a stay at home mama and a hard working pops are probably a lot better than a PS3 christmas with some parents I know.

    Dustin (cf255c)

  7. I think Ed is right.

    Who is going to tell America what our 2000 page healthcare bill says? Obama? Joe Liebermann? Blogs? In reality, no one really understands the full implications. They could pass a “watered down moderate bill”, and no one would really know if that’s what they passed until 2013-2015 when the real gears start grinding. They will pass something, and deep, buried within, will be a crisis they can only manage with single payer.

    That’s really all that they want… the future situation where single payer can be passed. And all they need to do is devastate healthcare. There’s all manner of ways to hide than in 2000 pages of ‘moderate, watered down’ legislation. Cloture was genuinely crucial step to stopping this bill.

    Many of these politicians know they won’t be around to answer for this in 2013, and those who are will probably not be blamed enough. It should be illegal to pass a bill that isn’t effective immediately, unless there’s a damn good reason. Weasels.

    Dustin (cf255c)

  8. At the end of the day, an America were many can start profitable small businesses is the ultimate healthcare reform.

    I’m gonna put that in a few random places. Right now.

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  9. Happyfeet, I went to the Big Lots you mentioned before i escaped to Arizona. It was vast with lots of empty spaces on the shelves. It made me wonder whether this was what Russia was like back in the day. It was like a slightly less classy 99c store…

    Gazzer (f4dafa)

  10. Odds anyone?

    I would place all my meager savings on ObamaCare passing.

    I mean, really, how can it not?

    Ag80 (3d1543)

  11. I swear I hadn’t heard Palin’s Greta interview before I made my comments on business. She’s totally ripping me off!

    Dustin (cf255c)

  12. I go by there all the time cause the guy with the machete and the cocos is right past there. Also the girl with the corn on the cob she dips in mayo for you. When my sister comes from Texas the first thing we’ll do is go to the NoHo ghetto and get the fresh coconut. That’s one of my favorite parts of LA cause it reminds me of South Texas. Also you can get that fermented pineapple drink. I can’t remember what they call it. Very tasty though.

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  13. Tepache

    Dustin (cf255c)

  14. If they were truly interested in the health-care consumer, they would pass one, or both, of two items:
    1- Tort Reform, which would cost them the support of the Tort Bar, so that’s a non-starter, but it has no appreciable fiscal impact; and/or,
    2- Interstate Insurance, which would pull the rug out from under all of those state insurance commissions that have been heavily burrowed by Leftist Moles who have sold their souls to every interest group that comes down the pike with a “there oughta be a law” cause, and also would have no appreciable fiscal impact.
    Two things they COULD do that wouldn’t cost an arm-and-a-leg, would save consumers money, but WOULD piss off their financial supporters;
    so, nothing will get done – if we’re lucky.

    AD - RtR/OS! (e1051f)

  15. right!

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  16. I think they take half a loaf now, and after that abomination gets passed, come back for the full loaf somewhere down the line,

    Dmac (a964d5)

  17. The higher the unemployment, the lower the odds of passing.

    With the CBO now showing steady state costs of $4-5 trillion for ten years, how do we afford this cost reduction. Wasn’t getting costs under control the sales point of the whole pile?

    bill-tb (365bd9)

  18. I’d say odds are now south of 50%.

    Xmas will be devastating to Governors with sales taxes down more that 10% for months, more than retailers are hoping for cheer. Not.a.chance.

    A Senate bill might make it with Snowe and Collins on board, Voinovich present, for a trigger.

    But Reconciliation has no chance.

    So, returning to the drawing board is the best remaining hope.

    gary gulrud (75a696)

  19. With the CBO now showing steady state costs of $4-5 trillion for ten years, how do we afford this cost reduction.

    Not so much a question of “afford”, as it is a matter of “where” the money comes from.

    Taxes?…those with money will hunker down, hula off to overseas havens, or have a hissy at the the ballot box. Short term gain for govt, long term pain for the govt.

    Borrow?…The usual buyers of Treasuries (those low cost producer countries) have no compelling reason to stash American debt that everyone knows will never be paid to bond holders. And with the last batch go 2 Yr notes going for .809%, and the buck getting banged–leads right to…

    Monetizing the debt. AKA printing benjamins 24/7. Dollar becomes the new yen, which has already happened amongst the big trader boys but still a fledgling carry trade currency vulnerable to many surges of risk on, risk off.

    This administration and Congress, just as the numerous ones since JFK days where much of this started (long story that), are like the wife who tells her husband…How can we not have enough for a new car, my checkbook has dozens of checks in it? So the short answer to the question in italics is the money is “created” as necessary, sinking the US$ to new depths, prolonging the economic malaise, and risking the implosion of the already super-fragile-istic US financial structure. Game over. We’ll get ’em next year, though.

    political agnostic (e25ede)

  20. I like our local Big Lots; and have shopped there for Christmas (well, I buy stuff for myself and ask my daughter to wrap it and give it to me – does that count?).

    I’d say the odds are 60% or better. It may be rammed through, it may be watered down, but I think something will pass before Jan 31st. And I think it may be the last straw.

    My advice – your best investment now is in canned goods.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  21. Her husband, Robert, had been working two-full time jobs, as a mechanic at a garage and at an auto parts store. Recently his retail job was cut back to part time. “We don’t have as much as we had last year,” McGavin laments. They don’t have health insurance and have racked up major medical bills.*

    Maybe they should have incorporated or have gotten a VUL and structured the assets so that debt collectors can not touch them.

    Michael Ejercito (6a1582)

  22. I don’t see the problem with reconciliation. It’s been used in the past. Ultimately it will be substance of the bill that matters, not the mechanics of how it passed. If they have to make the bill shitty to get more votes, then they should just go with a better bill.

    imdw (aab510)

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