Patterico's Pontifications

3/10/2010

ObamaCare: the Stupak bloc and the process

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:36 am



[Posted by Karl]

The two most immediate obstacles to ObamaCare are the “Stupak bloc” of pro-life Democrats and procedural obstacles caused by (a) the mutual distrust among House and Senate Dems; and (b) the election of Scott Brown in the Senate. Although the first is probably more exciting to readers than the second, there is enough overlap to consider their synergy.

Indeed, Rep. Stupak seems to be tying policy and process together — and not just on abortion:

Stupak highlighted other problems with the bill: The president’s proposal has not been translated into legislative language and it still leaves some special deals in place. “If you look at the President’s proposal,” Stupak said, “it says that the Cornhusker agreement is out, but the Louisiana Purchase is in.”

“Members don’t have a whole lot of appetite to vote for the Senate bill as a stand alone bill–that’s for sure,” Stupak said. “If you’re going to correct these inequities in the Senate bill, you better tie bar it to something. No one wants to vote for a freestanding bill so they can be accused of voting for a special deal for Nebraska on Medicaid.”

***

“You have to tie-bar it or substitute it or something,” Stupak said of the legislation. By “tie-bar,” Stupak means that all the fixes, including his amendment on abortion, would pass or fail all at the same time. Stupak says that congressional leaders are “going back and forth in different ways” to find a compromise. But again, “it is so confusing,” he said, “on what the parliamentary procedures are going to be” to make the fixes.

These sorts of concerns are probably why the House is considering using a “self-executing rule” to avoid an actual vote on the Senate bill:

Under this scenario, the Senate bill would be automatically attached to the reconciliation package, if the House passes reconciliation. In other words, Bill A would just become part of Bill B if the House passes Bill B, and the Senate could then vote on a reconciliation package before sending it to the president. This allows House members to approve the broader measure without actually voting on it.

The most immediate hitch to the “Slaughter solution” is that the House and Senate parliamentarians may rule it out of bounds by ruling that Pres. Obama must sign the underlying bill into law before reconciliation can occur. Whether that hurdle can be jumped by extraordinary measures (e.g., having VP Joe Biden overrule the Senate parliamentarian) remains unclear.

Second, if you are thinking that this type of procedure cannot address abortion — on the ground that abortion policy cannot be done through budget reconciliation — you would be wrong, sort of.

The Stupak abortion language could be inserted in a reconciliation bill, but would be subject to a point of order. The House may waive a point of order by majority vote, which raises the question of whether a House Republican would raise a point of order, and how the House GOP would vote on it, given that the House GOP supported the Stupak amendment in the first instance.

The more obvious obstacle is the Senate, where a pro-choice Republican like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, or even Scott Brown could raise the point of order — which requires 60 votes to waive (under the so-called “Byrd rule”). The Stupak language, when last offered by Sen. Ben Nelson, failed in the Senate by a 54-45 vote. Waiving the point of order in the Senate would almost certainly require cooperation from the GOP.

Could the Senate Dems get that cooperation? Senate Republican leaders signaled Tuesday that they plan to object to any abortion language included in a proposed reconciliation package — even if they agree with the provision on policy grounds. The House GOP supported the Stupak amendment under pressure from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Right to Life Committee. The Bishops have said they would work to get a sidebar bill through the Senate. But NRLC and other pro-life groups are reportedly working to get every House member possible to vote against the Senate bill, precisely because there are not enough votes to ban abortion funding in the Senate.

All of which means that the fate of ObamaCare may well rest on the ability of House Dems to force pro-life Dems to cave. Rep. Dale Kildee already has. Had the House GOP voted “present” on the Stupak amendment in the first instance, the bill would have died, or the right and pro-lifers could already have been targeting people like Kildee. As it stands now, no one knows how many Kildees are lurking in the shadows.

Note: Self-link inserted to honor Patterico’s Politico boycott.

Update: Jay Cost looks at what happens if Dems do not pursue the Slaughter Solution, in which case he deems the GOP threat non-credible.

Update: After getting an earful from pro-lifers, Kildee’s legislative staffer says the media reports were inaccurate, and that the representative has not decided to vote for the Senate language bill. Which doesn’t mean that he’s a “no,” but demonstrates the value of identifying and pressuring faux-lifers.

–Karl

54 Responses to “ObamaCare: the Stupak bloc and the process”

  1. Had the House GOP voted “present” on the Stupak amendment in the first instance, the bill would have died

    I’ve never understood where this particular bit of nonsense originated. The Dems are willing to sacrifice their majority for this bill. The idea that the bill would have “died” if the Stupak amendment had failed is downright comical. Here in the real world, the fact that the Stupak amendment passed is what is keeping the whole bill from becoming law.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  2. As it stands now, no one knows how many Kildees are lurking in the shadows

    That’s because they have yet to have an up or down vote on the Senate bill. Which is, you know, a good thing. Because if they have a vote it will because they have the numbers to pass it.

    The Dems are willing to sacrifice lots of Senate seats to pass this bill. I don’t think they are quaking in their boots at the thoughts of losing Kildee in November.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  3. Subotai,

    I’ve never understood where this particular bit of nonsense originated.

    It originated from the fact that Pelosi had to allow the vote on Stupak to get the bill passed.

    One might hypothesize that all the Stupak bloc needed was the vote, and would have voted to pass the House bill anyway. But that’s why you can’t clip off the rest of my sentence — the “or” is key.

    If there is a Stupak bloc so principled that it’s willing to kill the bill over abortion funding, then the GOP voting “present” would have killed the House bill.

    Else it would have passed anyway — and we would be looking at reconciliation to kill things like the Cornhusker Kickback, etc.

    But if we assume that the House bill would not have died, then there is no reason to believe that passage of Stupak is a real obstacle now, because the people who would have flipped in November could just as easily flip now, as Kildee has. The right — and pro-lifers — would arguably be better off had they learned who those people are in November, rather than being in the dark even today.

    But if you assume the House bill would have passed regardless of Stupak in November, it is hard to argue that its inclusion in the House bill is a serious obstacle to final passage now.

    Karl (f07e38)

  4. Subotai,

    We don’t know how many Kildees are out there because the GOP didn’t out them in November. And if the GOP/Right/pro-life knew who they were, it would be much easier to either pressure them or primary them.

    Instead, it is too late, because (I agree) there won’t be a House vote until Dems have the votes.

    Karl (f07e38)

  5. But if you assume the House bill would have passed regardless of Stupak in November, it is hard to argue that its inclusion in the House bill is a serious obstacle to final passage now.

    I understand your argument here, Karl, but does that take into account the proximity of the 2010 mid-term elections and all the noise surrounding this set of bills across the country?

    John Hitchcock (5a2bda)

  6. John Hitchcock,

    From the standpoint of abortion politics, if the assumption is that the Stupakers will cave, the fact that they bought four months in the dark helped them. Had they been forced to choose last November, it would have been easier to squeeze them or mount primary challenges to them.

    More broadly, ObamaCare is not significantly less popular now than it was in November. Arguably, continuing to ram it through on a partisan basis will make it more unpopular. Under that theory, faux-life Dems may use the abortion issue as a fig leaf to continue opposing it. And that would be the best case for Subotai’s position — but it also assumes that there aren’t other fig leafs for the Stupakers, when there are any number of fig leafs available (cost, lack of the public option, the “Cadillac” benefits tax, etc.)

    Karl (f07e38)

  7. One might hypothesize that all the Stupak bloc needed was the vote, and would have voted to pass the House bill anyway. But that’s why you can’t clip off the rest of my sentence — the “or” is key

    I addressed the part after the “or” in commnent #2.

    The right — and pro-lifers — would arguably be better off had they learned who those people are in November, rather than being in the dark even today

    How and why? Let’s assume that there are two dozen Killdee’s and that they all flip and reveal themselves to be willing to vote for a pro-abortion health-care bill. How exactly does that information, either today or last November, help the right? I’m assuming that by “help the right” we mean here “kill the bill”.

    But if we assume that the House bill would not have died, then there is no reason to believe that passage of Stupak is a real obstacle now, because the people who would have flipped in November could just as easily flip now

    No. It gets harder and harder to support the bill as time passes, for several reasons. One, because it is always harder to vote for contentious legislation close to an election. Two, because public opinion has hardened against the bill as time has passed. Three, because the Stupak bloc have now gone on record as opposing any bill with support for abortion in it, i.e. the Senate bill, i.e. the Senate bill which the Dems no longer have the 60 votes to alter as they wish.

    The combination of Scott Brown and the passage of the Stupak amendment is the reason this bill is stalled.

    It originated from the fact that Pelosi had to allow the vote on Stupak to get the bill passed.

    That’s pure speculation, but if it is true then you have no need to worry about people like Kildee flipping. In reality the vote was held for typical political reasons – it was the path of least resistance at the time.

    If the votes exist to pass the Senate bill in the House now, then they existed all along to pass the House bill without the Stupak amendment. And if the votes don’t exist to pass the Senate bill in the House now, then the passage of the Stupak amendment laying down the marker of the pro-life Dems is the thing keeping the whole bill from becoming law. There is no third possibility.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  8. From the standpoint of abortion politics, if the assumption is that the Stupakers will cave, the fact that they bought four months in the dark helped them. Had they been forced to choose last November, it would have been easier to squeeze them or mount primary challenges to them.

    If they flip from their stated pro-life positions to support this unpopular bill, then a primary challenge is the least of their problems. I’d much prefer they do not get primaried. I’d prefer they run in November so that they can get replaced by a Republican. It helps us not at all if they get replaced by another Dem.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  9. I don’t get it. If the House passes the Senate bill “as is,” and the president signs it into law, why would the Dems want to proceed into reconciliation?

    To honor the Senate’s promise to reconcile? We’ll see, but I think that’s laughable.

    Getting the Stupak bloc to vote “yes” leaves them zero leverage afterward. They either kill the bill entirely in the House, or live with federal abortion funding per the Senate bill.

    Boston Shepherd (93bd92)

  10. It should be abundantly clear by now that the only truly responsible way to address the Democrat healthcare proposal, in whatever form it finally takes, is to use the November 2010 mid-term elections as a referendum.

    Let the American people decide, up or down: Vote for Democrats if you favor Obamacare, or vote GOP if you oppose it.

    The current Congress has made a hopeless mess of healthcare reform, and failed to fix the economy. So, now, it’s time for Congress to get out of the way and let the American voters either accept the Democrat plan or allow a new Congress to start over.

    ropelight (eb81c9)

  11. These legislative tricks like the Slaughter self-executing rule where they do not have to vote on the actual Senate bill are remarkable. As another wise person noted, how do you discuss these things with people that are making statement like long division is purple, and the moon is less than four.

    JD (77c1f6)

  12. “It should be abundantly clear by now that the only truly responsible way to address the Democrat healthcare proposal, in whatever form it finally takes, is to use the November 2010 mid-term elections as a referendum.”

    So does this mean allowing an up or down vote in the senate first? or no?

    [note: fished from spam filter. –Stashiu]

    imdw (9c0eb2)

  13. Subotai,

    Let’s assume that there are two dozen Killdee’s and that they all flip and reveal themselves to be willing to vote for a pro-abortion health-care bill. How exactly does that information, either today or last November, help the right? I’m assuming that by “help the right” we mean here “kill the bill”.

    Wrong assumption. If there are enough flippers to pass the bill, “killing the bill” can’t be the point. Rather, opponents would have had months to pressure the flippers (possibly by threatening primary challenges) or, in the case of the GOP, recruit better challengers.

    It gets harder and harder to support the bill as time passes, for several reasons. One, because it is always harder to vote for contentious legislation close to an election. Two, because public opinion has hardened against the bill as time has passed. Three, because the Stupak bloc have now gone on record as opposing any bill with support for abortion in it, i.e. the Senate bill, i.e. the Senate bill which the Dems no longer have the 60 votes to alter as they wish.

    1. As noted previously, House Dems have many reasons — both real and faux — to oppose the Senate bill. They don’t need abortion funding to do it.

    2. Opposition to ObamaCare has not hardened since the House vote. I do think that public opposition could rise again if the ram-through resumes in earnest. But that public opposition is not driven by the abortion issue; it’s driven by cost, fear of changing insurance, etc. Abortion funding comes in at about 2%. The funding issue has great saliency with reliable single-issue voters, which is why it matters to most in the Stupak bloc — but that calculus has always been present for members the bloc. Accordingly, as just noted vulnerable members could find plenty of reasons to flip to “no” that have broader appeal than the abortion funding issue.

    If the votes exist to pass the Senate bill in the House now, then they existed all along to pass the House bill without the Stupak amendment.

    And the Senate bill has’t passed yet, which implies the votes aren’t there and weren’t there.

    And if the votes don’t exist to pass the Senate bill in the House now, then the passage of the Stupak amendment laying down the marker of the pro-life Dems is the thing keeping the whole bill from becoming law. There is no third possibility.

    If the votes weren’t there, the House bill could have been defeated in November. And to be redundant, there are additional reasons for the House Dems to oppose the Senate bill.

    3. The Stupak bloc have not gone on record as opposing any bill with support for abortion in it. Backing a bill with the Stupak language is not the same as being on record as voting against a bill w/o the Stupak language. Had the GOP voted “present” on Stupak in Novemeber, we would have Dems on record as voting against a bill w/o the Stupak language — or not; that was the point.

    That’s pure speculation, but if it is true then you have no need to worry about people like Kildee flipping. In reality the vote was held for typical political reasons – it was the path of least resistance at the time.

    And it’s not pure speculation that Nancy had an extra ten votes in reserve in November? I think you greatly underestimate the issue to pro-choicers. This was the only amendment Pelosi allowed. Rules Chairman Slaughter publicly wept over the decision, and left the room as the Rules Cmte voted to let Stupak get to the floor. (And this was after the Left was forced to eat the lack of the public option). Dem Whip Clyburn said that of the 40 Dems who voted for Stupak, 10 would have voted against the bill w/o it. If allowing a vote on the Stupak amendment was the path of least resistance, the speculation that it could have passed w/o it seems wilder than my speculation.

    Karl (f07e38)

  14. Boston Shepherd,

    I think Jay Cost lays out your thinking on this pretty well.

    Karl (f07e38)

  15. “pro-abortion health-care bill.”

    Wait which bill is the ‘pro-abortion health care bill’ ?

    imdw (603c39)

  16. It would be nice, for only one day, if dimwit would not be mendoucheous when it visits here. Wishful thinking, I know.

    JD (295979)

  17. I think imdw is cute when he tries to do “free-think” (guess he’s still waiting for today’s talking points).

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  18. It would be nice, for only one day, if JD would contribute something original instead of following around other people around the blog just to tap out a few pointless, inane insults. Wishful thinking, I know.

    Intelliology (00d844)

  19. That was an improvement, idiot. You have risen to 3rd grade level of insults, I know you are nyah nyah nyah. F*ck off, go worship your AGW.

    JD (f304a1)

  20. So I mimic your insults and I am on the 3rd grade level? Think about that one for a second…

    Intelliology (00d844)

  21. No, that is how 3rd graders act. Just like you. Go drop your drawers in someone else’s living room.

    JD (f304a1)

  22. You really are clueless. :-)

    Intelliology (00d844)

  23. Sorry, everyone that is not being a douchebag. I am in a mood. I will resume alternately ignoring and pointing and laughing at it.

    JD (f304a1)

  24. Obama decries waste, fraud in gov’t health system
    By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer 3/10/10
    ST. CHARLES, Mo. – President Barack Obama denounced waste, inefficiency and downright fraud in the government’s health care system on Wednesday as he sought to rally public support for his revamped overhaul plan. “Improper payments cost taxpayers almost $100 billion last year alone,” Obama said at a rally in this St. Louis suburb.

    This is the most troubling part of this song-and-dance, for me. Obama has had a year to make a good-faith effort at being specific and doing something about this “waste, inefficiency and downright fraud.” I’m still waiting for any kind of ‘hope and change’, but results are not forthcoming.

    TimesDisliker (43cd63)

  25. And it’s not pure speculation that Nancy had an extra ten votes in reserve in November?

    I did not speculate that she had an extra ten votes in reserve in November. I said that if she had them then, she probabaly still has them now. And that if she did not have them then, she probably does not have them now. Which makes the passage of Stupak moot.

    If the votes weren’t there, the House bill could have been defeated in November

    Sounds like you’re the one who is speculating. If the votes were not there then, then they are certainly not there now. In which case nothing has been lost a a lot has been gained by dragging the process out several months longer. The bill can only be defeated when the Dems say it is defeated. You’re the one “speculating” that the Dems would have thrown in the towel if the GOP had killed the Stupak Amdt, in defiance of their behavior throughout this saga.

    House Dems have many reasons — both real and faux — to oppose the Senate bill. They don’t need abortion funding to do it.

    Then it’s a mystery why everyone, including you, is focusing on abortion as being the stumbling block, isn’t it?

    I think you greatly underestimate the issue to pro-choicers. This was the only amendment Pelosi allowed. Rules Chairman Slaughter publicly wept over the decision, and left the room as the Rules Cmte voted to let Stupak get to the floor.

    Uh huh. Great. But how does this sentiment (which I agree with) match up with your insistence that the pro-life Dems are “faux-life” Dems? How does it square with the words I just cited from you: ‘House Dems have many reasons — both real and faux — to oppose the Senate bill. They don’t need abortion funding to do it.’

    You can’t seem to make up your mind whether abortion is important here or not.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  26. “It would be nice, for only one day, if JD would contribute something original instead of following around other people around the blog just to tap out a few pointless, inane insults.”

    Intelliology – What’s your excuse for your comments?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  27. “Wait which bill is the ‘pro-abortion health care bill’ ?”

    imdw – C’mon, that should be a no brainer for you since you told us in the Pelosi thread it was not hard for people to tell what was in the bills. Try to stay consistent with your ankle biting.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  28. TimesDisliker #25 – when Nuestro Presidente says that “Improper payments cost taxpayers almost $100 billion last year alone,”, he isn’t saying anything about intending to stop such “Improper payments” … he’s saying what he believes folk want to hear – and then he goes on and does what (or tries to do what) he wants to do …

    When he says “It’s all for the children” as he adds the $Trillions to the budget deficit, he is confident that his supporters will hear him say that it is for the benefit of the children, whereas *he* knows he means that the additional $Trillions deficit is being left by him “for the children” …

    Alasdair (41d6f3)

  29. Exactly, Times. Rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse is something that is already within his purview, and apparently, he is choosing to not address it, except as a political tool.

    JD (f304a1)

  30. Subotai,

    I did not speculate that she had an extra ten votes in reserve in November. I said that if she had them then, she probabaly still has them now. And that if she did not have them then, she probably does not have them now. Which makes the passage of Stupak moot.

    Given the number of “ifs” and “probablys” in that paragraph, it’s hard to conclude you weren’t speculating. What we know is that if Pelosi had the votes now, she would be voting on the Senate bill now. Which has definite implications for your speculation about how many votes Pelosi had or has in reserve.

    If the votes were not there then, then they are certainly not there now. In which case nothing has been lost a a lot has been gained by dragging the process out several months longer. The bill can only be defeated when the Dems say it is defeated. You’re the one “speculating” that the Dems would have thrown in the towel if the GOP had killed the Stupak Amdt, in defiance of their behavior throughout this saga.

    Exposing faux-life Dems would have been a useful exercise; see my second update about Kildee in the original post. I’ll concede that the Dems could have tried to push on after a defeat on the House floor — but in 1994, ClintonCare largely died after Mitchell suffered losses on the Senate floor and had to pull the bill (it never reached the House floor). It would have been a ginormous setback for Dems at a time when the bill was marginally less popular than it is at the moment.

    Then it’s a mystery why everyone, including you, is focusing on abortion as being the stumbling block, isn’t it?

    It’s not a mystery at all. It appears that Pelosi cannot get the Senate bill passed without appeasing the bloc. But that necessarily assumes that the core bloc of 10-12 will in fact oppose the bill without the Stupak language. And if that is true, the bill could have been torpedoed last November.

    Uh huh. Great. But how does this sentiment (which I agree with) match up with your insistence that the pro-life Dems are “faux-life” Dems? How does it square with the words I just cited from you: ‘House Dems have many reasons — both real and faux — to oppose the Senate bill. They don’t need abortion funding to do it.’

    You can’t seem to make up your mind whether abortion is important here or not.

    There’s not a contradiction there. The Dem caucus is pro-choice overall; its heart is vehemently pro-choice. That tends to suggest that allowing a vote on Stupak was more a move of last resort than least resistance.

    A minority of the Dem caucus — about 40 Dems — voted for both Stupak and the bill. According to Clyburn (and implicitly confirmed by Stupak afterward) only 10-12 of the 40 would have voted against the bill w/o the amendment. That means there are at least 30 faux-lifers who would have voted for the bill w/o Stupak, who could have been identified and better targeted by opponents of the bill and by pro-lifers (which is true even if the House bill passed w/o Stupak). That’s what was lost in November.

    As for the “many reasons — both real and faux — to oppose the Senate bill,” the key part is that we are now talking about House approval of the Senate bill. A House Dem could easily say he or she opposes the Senate bill because it lacks the public option, or because it taxes high-end insurance policies, etc. Indeed,in a swing district, most people probably wouldn’t care why their Rep was opposing the bill, so long as he or she was opposing it.

    I’m not saying abortion isn’t important; it seems to be very important to a key block of 10-12 House Dems. I am saying that any Dem who voted for the House bill has plenty of other reasons they could oppose the Senate bill.

    And those other reasons are significant. If you read the news reports between Christmas and Brown’s election, there was every indication that the leadership thought they were going to roll over the Stupak bloc on final passage. Their inability to come up with a “conference” bill to bring to the respective floors had much more to do with issues like the Cadillac tax than abortion funding (even if the leadership badly miscalculated on that issue).

    The other reason why you may have thought I can’t make up my mind whether abortion is important is that I (like you) was considering the alternative scenarios. If banning abortion funding was key to passing the House bill, then the GOP voting “present” would have dealt the Dems an enormous defeat. But in either case, the GOP and pro-lifers would have discovered who their true opponents are, and taken action accordingly.

    Karl (45e11e)

  31. “imdw – C’mon, that should be a no brainer for you since you told us in the Pelosi thread it was not hard for people to tell what was in the bills.”

    I also said there’s a lot of misdirection.

    imdw (f8211e)

  32. ^^^^

    Now THAT is funny and ironic beyond words.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  33. Stupak is the amendment that will kill Obama’s health care reform as is. He has to start all over now because of what Reid did in the Senate.

    Pelosi doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate bill. She can’t make deals to get the votes because she cannot guarantee any House members that she can tell the Senate what to include and what not to include. Pelosi would have to tell her members “trust me. I’ll get what you want in reconciliation.” If Pelosi says that to one member, guess what. Other members are going to ask for things too to get their Yes vote.

    Now in the election year, Pelosi is the key figure that is on tape making false statements like “this bill does not fund abortion”. The Senate bill does. The House bill does not. She’s also now on tape saying “We have to pass this bill to find out what is in it”. Hah. That’s an ad all by itself.

    The Stupak 10 will hold. Look at Kildee. He says he’s going to vote yes. Then his constituents find out and light up his phone lines. The Democrats may have run Michigan into the ground, but they can’t kill conscience.

    The “Slaughter House” strategy is something I’m begging the Democrats to do. As a supporter of reform, but an opponent of the Senate bill, the Slaughter House rule would give me grounds to sue. Do it Pelosi! Give me standing.

    WTFCI (8b7ab3)

  34. This seems to be the thought process of the “the GOP should have killed the Stupac Amendment” crowd.

    1) the GOP votes with lefty Dems to defeat the Stupac Amedt.

    2) (speculation) The Dems make no further changes to the House bill before bringing it to the floor.

    3) (speculation) The Stupac Dems vote with Republicans against the bill, defeating it.

    4) (speculation) Reid, Pelosi, and Obama shrug their shoulders and go “Well, we gave it the old college try. Lets drop this and move to the center for the rest of this term.”

    Let’s just say that I find all of this unpersuasive.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  35. If allowing a vote on the Stupak amendment was the path of least resistance, the speculation that it could have passed w/o it seems wilder than my speculation.

    It is wild speculation. Rep. George Miller put it nicely. “The Majority of the House is pro-life. Get over it. You automatons.” That last sentence is probably made up.

    WTFCI (8b7ab3)

  36. “I also said there’s a lot of misdirection.”

    imdw – There is misdirection inside the bills?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  37. A minority of the Dem caucus — about 40 Dems — voted for both Stupak and the bill. According to Clyburn (and implicitly confirmed by Stupak afterward) only 10-12 of the 40 would have voted against the bill w/o the amendment. That means there are at least 30 faux-lifers who would have voted for the bill w/o Stupak, who could have been identified and better targeted by opponents of the bill and by pro-lifers (which is true even if the House bill passed w/o Stupak). That’s what was lost in November.

    I thought the goal here was to defeat the bill. Discovering which Dems are not really pro-life, while doubtless satisfying on some level, is a distraction from that goal. Discovering that Ben Nelson was not really pro-life was a set-back for the anti-Obamacare side, not a win. The same applies in the House.

    The best case scenario at this point is that the House never votes on the Senate bill. Does that mean that we never find out which pro-life Dems are faking it it? Sure. But that’s small beer in the big picture view of things.

    Of course it is possible that the House Dems will vote on the Senate bill. That’s probaly a bad thing from the standpoint of defeating Obamacare, but at least you’ll get to see which people are faking the pro-life stuff. At which point, it will be up to the voters to deal with them in November. So the thing which you say was lost, was not. It was merely postponed. And in the meantime the Dems are spinning their wheels in the mud.

    To use a military analogy, we can’t win in a decisive battle. We’re too out-numbered. So we should employ a Fabian strategy and remember that running down the clock helps us and hurts the opposition.

    Worst case scenario, Obamacare passes sometime in May. At least that means that that all the other bad bills the Dems have queued up and waiting will have a harder time passing in the Fall.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  38. If allowing a vote on the Stupak amendment was the path of least resistance, the speculation that it could have passed w/o it seems wilder than my speculation

    Not even close. The path of least resistence in Congress has nothing to do with what the members of Congress believe, and everything to do with what they want the voters to think they believe. If you can have your Obamacare AND pretend to be pro-life for the rubes back home, that’s what you’ll want to do. And that’s what they did do.

    Which way will they break if forced to chose between the two? The anti-Obamacare side is better off if the Stupakers never have to make that choice. We’re defending the status quo. No answer is a very good answer indeed.

    Subotai (5556bb)

  39. Erick at Red-state has laid it out pretty clearly. If arms are twisted and the Senate bill passes in the house it is over. There will be no further discussion. There will be no senate fixes, no senate compromises and no reconciliation vote. The monstrosity will be on the president’s desk immediately–still with the corn husker deal, LA purchase, and the union deal intact.

    elissa (622b5d)

  40. “imdw – There is misdirection inside the bills?”

    Nope. But there are people using words like ‘pro-abortion’ about the bill. I don’t think those words are inside the bill.

    imdw (842182)

  41. “I don’t think those words are inside the bill.”

    No, they wouldn’t have the honesty OR the stones not to clothe the wolf in wool.

    GeneralMalaise (7925b7)

  42. But there are people using words like ‘pro-abortion’ about the bill. I don’t think those words are inside the bill.
    Comment by imdw — 3/10/2010 @ 6:26 pm

    Does the bill allow payment for abortions with Federal funds?

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  43. Subotai,

    I thought the goal here was to defeat the bill. Discovering which Dems are not really pro-life, while doubtless satisfying on some level, is a distraction from that goal. Discovering that Ben Nelson was not really pro-life was a set-back for the anti-Obamacare side, not a win. The same applies in the House.

    The goal is to defeat the bill. At that moment, the biggest step you could take to defeat the bill was to defeat the Stupak amendment. The Nelson analogy does not apply to the House, because Nelson is not up for reelection this year, while the entire House is. Any faux-life members of the Stupak bloc thus have much more to lose from exposure.

    To use a military analogy, we can’t win in a decisive battle. We’re too out-numbered. So we should employ a Fabian strategy and remember that running down the clock helps us and hurts the opposition.

    That assumes that the GOP couldn’t have brought down the House bill, and that the Dems could have successfully recovered from that loss, which is just as speculative as my argument. (Arguably moreso, given that the available evidence suggests it’s more likely that Pelosi didn’t have enough votes in reserve to pass the House bill w/o Stupak.)

    Of course it is possible that the House Dems will vote on the Senate bill. That’s probaly a bad thing from the standpoint of defeating Obamacare, but at least you’ll get to see which people are faking the pro-life stuff. At which point, it will be up to the voters to deal with them in November.

    It’s more than a bad thing for anti-Obamacare forces. As Jay Cost notes, if the House does not use the Slaughter Rule, approving the Senate bill may be the endgame. If the House approves the Senate bill without the guarantee of the self-executing rule (that the Senate must pass the fix before the Senate bill is deemed passed), the GOP cannot credibly threaten the point of order, because their choice boils down to ObamaCare with abortion funding or ObamaCare without it.

    As for the House fakers, they went for months without pressure from constituents, donors and interest groups. And the GOP — or even pro-life Dems — may have missed out on recruiting stronger challengers. If ObamaCare passes in May, most filing deadlines will have passed.

    Nevertheless, your point about the Fabian strategy is not without merit. Indeed, I have written any number of times (though not in this specific context) that time is the enemy of ObamaCare. It’s clearly what the GOP decided upon — and it has helped gum up the process.

    However, the GOP picked that strategy in part so as not to cross the Bishops and the NRLC. As noted in the post, the Bishops are still gung ho for a “fix” of the bill, while NRLC and others are suddenly not. Perhaps the NRLC was engaged in the same Fabian thinking in November, but as a single-issue group that’s all about conscience, it seems equally likely that the NRLC — and other pro-life groups — have had second thoughts about the wisdom of scoring the Stupak vote as they did at the time.

    Karl (45e11e)

  44. Looks like the “misdirection” is all imdw’s.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  45. ” Does the bill allow payment for abortions with Federal funds?”

    Nope.

    imdw (d301b5)

  46. Nope.
    Comment by imdw — 3/10/2010 @ 8:13 pm

    Really?

    While there is no language in the House bill specifically allocating funds for abortions, it delegates the authority to determine what is covered to the administration’s Department of Health and Human Services.

    “Well the Democrats are saying it’s not in the language – that we have to cover abortion,” DeMint said. “And it’s not. Republicans offered an amendment in the House to make sure taxpayers would not subsidize abortion through this plan. The Democrats voted it down because in the language, it gives the Department of Health and Human Services the prerogative to decide what these plans have to cover.”

    Therefore with an unambiguously pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius as HHS secretary, it stands to reason abortion funding could be OK’d at the executive level, according to the Senator.

    It sure doesn’t prohibit it.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  47. If arms are twisted and the Senate bill passes in the house it is over.

    How does the Speaker twist arms if the only thing she has to offer is “Trust me. I can get what you want in the Senate Reconciliation process”?

    The Speaker has nothing but an up or down vote or the “Slaughter House” option.

    WTFCI (8b7ab3)

  48. I do not care if this “rule” thingie has ever been used before, for any purpose, by any party. It is repugnant on its face. I almost hope they try to pass this bill by not voting on the bill, just so America can plainly see what these clowns are all about. Only problem with that is that we would then be stuck with this travesty of kind-of legislation that was not voted on.

    JD (8d3f8f)

  49. Dan Foster has more on the self-executing rule, including how it was used on cap-and-trade, though I think he and Slate’s Dickerson aren’t thinking enough about including the Stupak language in the rule, or about how the parliamentarian could mess up that strategy.

    Karl (45e11e)

  50. Foster’s post is interesting. The Waxman rule was awfully powerful. However, it was also passed when Obama was awfully popular and not the muted sub 50 President he is today. Pelosi is another story. She could whip votes for cap n trade in a non election year, but he President’s capital – no matter how many times he says “you have me” – is going to change the fact that every whipped Pelosi vote is a dead Congressman walking.

    Obama’s popularity was equivalent to Japan losing Yamamoto. There’s little to no chance Stupak and his 12 accept kamikaze orders from Pelosi.

    WTFCI (8b7ab3)

  51. Ed is saying that there is an even bigger skunk buried in the new bill.

    Counting part-time workers for the threshold for the mandate means that this bill will kill off even more small business.

    We’ve never, ever had a Congress and White House more hostile to business and more intent on destroying the American economy, than this bunch of clowns.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  52. With control of the Presidency, and overwhelming control of the House and Senate, this is the way the Democratic Party is prepared to pass this.

    President Obama, Reid and Pelosi are disgraceful.

    Question: what is the enforcement mechanism of reconciliation after passage in the House? If the reconciliation is not to the satisfaction of House members who initially voted for it, do they then declare the bill “null and void” or is that just too bad?

    Pons Asinorum (1f16cc)

  53. “It sure doesn’t prohibit it.”

    I took another look at the language, and what it appears to do is just accept definitions in other laws as to what can or can’t be funded with public money. So the more accurate thing to say is that it doesn’t change the law as to what can be funded.

    imdw (3bf1a8)


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