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Overestimating Their Anger

January 21, 2010

Jon Cohn thinks there’s no reason for the Dems to get all spineless now:

Remember, Republicans will blame you for this bill anyway. Unless you’re among the few Democrats who opposed it on the first go-round, you’ve already voted for health care reform. And you can bet the Republicans will let voters know that come November. You’ll be the representative who voted for that awful liberal boondoggle that, thankfully, the Senate blocked at the final stages of deliberation. Or maybe you want to explain to constituents why you were for health care reform before you were against it.

Yglesias concurs:

What’s baffling to me about the collective health care freakout happening on the Hill right now is that House Democrats don’t quite seem to be grasping the implications of the fact that they already voted for health reform back in November. Whether or not Massachusetts increases your perception of the political threat level a little or a lot, the essence of the matter is that there’s no increase in the threat level that comes from voting “yes” a second time.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  Sure, changing your mind makes you look like a mollycoddling wuss, which will surely be exploited (ill-advisedly) by Republican opportunists, but, as Ramesh notes, they’re not exactly changing their minds:

Actually, very few Democrats who voted for the Pelosi health bill need to vote against the Reid bill in order to kill it. If Reps. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) and Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.) vote against the bill, and Rep. Anh Cao (R., La.) joins them, and everybody else in the House votes the way they did last time, the bill dies. How hard would it be for them to say that the bill they voted for blocked federal financing of abortion, and this one doesn’t?

How hard would it be for another Democrat to say, “I agree with Howard Dean, this bill isn’t worth passing without a public option”? Or: “I voted in the fall to keep the process going but it has become clear to me, especially as I have listened to the strong public outcry against this bill, that I cannot support it.”

In fact, Stupak is extremely skeptical of the Senate bill’s chances:

“There is no way that bill is going anywhere. . . . I bet it wouldn’t get 100 votes.” Also: “But I do believe that at the end of the day, we will have a plan and I do think we will pass health care for the American people. . . . Yes, I still think we’ll do it.”

I still think something will get passed (for better or worse), but it’s not so black and white with the Senate bill in particular.  Which is why even people like Barney Frank are clutching their skirts right now.

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