The Politics of Health Care Reform (as of March 19, 2010)
By Matt Burke
With a possible vote on health care reform scheduled for the House this weekend, let us evaluate the political ramifications of such a vote.
At the beginning of the year, I offered that the 2010 Elections would net a 25-30 seat gain for Republicans in the House and 5-6 seats in the Senate. Based on the results of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts and the health care cram down, those numbers need to be reevaluated.
Right now, a firm majority of Americans do not support the current health care legislation (52-55%). In spite of these numbers, I do predict that the Democratic Congress will pass health care reform this weekend. I do not think the “Slaughter Rule”, aka the “Deem and Pass” will be needed, and the Senate bill will pass in the House, and then the proposed reconciliation package for the House will pass. The fight will not be over, as the Senate now wants to have their own reconciliation bill, which will have to be voted on in the Senate and passed by the House. Does your head hurt yet?
But, once the House passes the Senate bill (not the reconciliation), that will be presented to the President for signature, and it becomes law.
I once heard that a definition of tyranny is when the majority is ruled by the minority. With over half the population not supporting this bill, what is happening clearly meets that definition.
Thankfully, we live in a democracy where voters can express their opinions of their elected leaders.
If the elections were to be held now, I think we would see a 38-45 seat gain for the Republicans in the House, with up to a 60 seat gain possible. I also expect wins for the Republicans in the Senate races in Colorado, Delaware, Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and Nevada—all seats currently held by Democrats. Also in play are the Democratic seats in Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, California, Washington and Connecticut. Right now, a 50-50 Senate is very much in play.
But there is a more important election being held in 2010 than the one for the Federal Offices. As this is a census year, the state legislatures that will be voted in will be drawing the new Congressional district lines based on reapportionment. Current predictions are that Republican leading states will gain ten more Congressional districts, with traditional Democrat states naturally losing ten. Texas is expected to be the big winner.
If Republican states also have Republican state legislatures, they can ensure that those ten new Congressional districts will be Republican districts.
Even more vital is that the Electoral College is based on Congressional districts, so this means about ten less Electoral College votes for President Obama in 2012. If the election were held today, President Obama would lose by a wide margin, by a similar result to the 2008 election, having lost such pickups as Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.
By paying for health care reform by reducing Medicare benefits, Obama and the Democrats have also garnered the wrath of the senior population. While the Dems won in 2006 and 2008 based on the youth vote, that was only possible because the senior vote was split in those years. The seniors are the voters that are strongly opposed to the current health care reform, and they will vote in 2010 and beyond against any cuts to Medicare. The Democrats may have lost a generation of senior voters, once a bedrock constituency.
Legally, there are many challenges that can be made, but until we know what the final package is going to be, we do not know where to attack. There is certainly an equal protection argument to be made (costs are spread unequally amongst the states), plus a due process argument (can Congress impose a fine just because you are born?). Any successful Supreme Court argument will not only focus on health care, but on the general argument of “Does Congress, under Article One, have the authority to do this?” For if they do, then we are no longer a government of limited powers, but one that can regulate every aspect of out lives.
Currently, there are 40 Democratic Congressman that state they are undecided. Unfortunately, I fear the reason why some of them are undecided is that they are looking for sweetheart deals for their vote, similar to the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase. It is because of this that I fear the health care reform legislation will pass. These Congressmen have to know their election chances are doomed and are doing their best to preserve their legacy.
Last weekend I watched a documentary about the closing days of WWII in the Pacific. The Japanese Navy was decimated, and the only way they could attack our navy was to launch kamikaze attacks on our ships. These pilots were sacrificed for a cause that was known to be lost, with promises of eternal glory in the afterlife. While just a footnote to the war, these kamikaze pilots inflicted great damage on our naval forces, having destroyed about 38 ships.
These Democratic Congressmen are also on a kamikaze mission, and their effect is to inflict great damage on our health care system
Doug Kellett @idougradio
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