Will White House threats work?5:09 PM, Mar 16, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Let's say you're a Democratic congressman from a swing district. Your constituency actually went for McCain in 2008 while sending you back to Washington on a split ticket. You had some rowdy town hall meetings during the 2009 August recess and decided to vote No on the House health care bill last November. Now the White House is saying that if you don't vote for the Senate bill in the coming weeks, the president won't appear in your district this fall or raise money for you on the road. And the DNC chairman is saying a Yes vote will be rewarded with support from Obama, Organizing for America, and the national party.
Here's the thing: What good would any of this do? To preserve your seat in an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, anti-big government year, you have to distance yourself from Obama and the national Democrats anyway -- which is why you want to vote No in the first place!
Carrots and sticks don't matter. What matters is how your district will react to a Yes vote. And fear of reprisal -- not from Obama, not from Tim Kaine, but from the people -- is why Pelosi is still coming up short.
The Democrats prepare to take their medicine.1:27 PM, Mar 16, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The Tea Party has come to Washington to protest the Democratic health care bill.
Meanwhile, pundits are busily trying to figure out the Slaughter Rule, a procedural measure by which the House could "deem" the Senate health care bill passed without actually voting on it. If this sounds confusing, that's because it is.
Even liberal blogger Ezra Klein writes that "this is all about plausible deniability for House members who don't want to vote for the Senate bill, although I doubt many voters will find the denials plausible." Why doubt? A negative public reaction to the health care vote is a near certainty. The question is whether the reaction fades before November.
The countdown begins.9:22 AM, Mar 15, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
President Obama travels to Ohio today to hold another campaign-style rally for health care reform.
The House Democratic whip said yesterday he does not have the 216 votes necessary to pass the Senate health bill. In order to get there, he, Nancy Pelosi, and Steny Hoyer must flip some of the 39 House Democrats who voted No on the House bill last November to Yes. The latest whip count is here.
You'll note that not a single Democrat who voted No in November is counted under the "Lean Yes" or "Firm Yes" column. Meanwhile, there are 35 "Lean Nos" and "Firm Nos," and 72 "Undecided" members. The maximum number of Democratic defections is 37. The health care bill can be defeated.
The Democrats are afraid of the voters and mad at each other. Their vaunted health care reform is going to do them in. Mar 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 26 • By NOEMIE EMERY
Obamacare would badly undermine America’s economic prospects. Mar 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 26 • By JAMES C. CAPRETTA and YUVAL LEVIN
After a year of debate and legislative scheming, President Obama and congressional Democrats are making one last push for their ill-conceived health care plan. Fittingly, the endgame is as unseemly as the various maneuvers and backroom deals that got them this far.
Obama delays as Congress maneuvers.10:30 AM, Mar 12, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
President Obama has delayed his upcoming trip to the Pacific in order to pressure wavering House Democrats to back his health care reform. Obama was originally supposed to depart next Thursday, March 18. Now he'll leave Sunday the 21st. But that is still five days earlier than the Democrats' self-imposed deadline of March 26, when Congress is scheduled to begin its Easter Recess. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if Obama postpones the Asia trip until April. He and the leadership are engaged in a full-court press to win every vote.
It all starts in the House Budget Committee.5:00 PM, Mar 11, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Nancy Pelosi does not have the 216 votes necessary to pass the Senate health care bill. She's planning to go ahead without the votes of the Stupak 12. Today the Senate parliamentarian ruled the Senate bill must become law before "fixes" can be made via the parliamentary tactic known as reconciliation. The GOP Senate caucus will rigorously enforce the Byrd rule, limiting the reconciliation changes to budget matters and nothing more.
What's going on? The final push for Obamacare is about to begin. It starts on Monday, when the House Budget Committee will insert reconciliation instructions into the November House health care bill. By late Monday / early Tuesday, Budget will pass this bill and send it to the House Rules Committee, where Pelosi will change the language so that it matches the Senate bill. This is the final compromise legislation that may come to a vote on the House floor within weeks. "They're creating the shell," says Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The time for talk is over ... until I want to talk again!11:34 AM, Mar 11, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
In health care speech number 37, President Obama told his audience in St. Louis, Missouri, yesterday that "the time for talk is over." He's said this before, of course, and it wasn't any truer then than it is now. The talking won't stop until the bill is passed -- and even then, the talking won't stop, because disagreement is far more common than consensus. And even if the GOP doesn't repeal health care reform, it will seek to change the policy and shift it in a consumer-oriented, free-market direction over time.
The desire to stop talking reflects a deeper antagonism toward politics. Read George Will's column today: "Progressives are forever longing to replace the governance of people by the administration of things. Because they are entirely public-spirited, progressives volunteer to be the administrators, and to be as disinterested as the dickens."
Michael Walzer on the Democratic dilemma.9:18 AM, Mar 10, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
The election of Barack Obama was supposed to usher in a New New Deal. James Carville gushed that Democrats would rule for 40 years. But Obama has had great difficulty enacting his agenda, mainly because the public is opposed to it. Health care reform is in trouble and cap and trade is dead. The stimulus blew a trillion dollar hole in the budget and the economy still shed 4 million jobs in 2009.
Why hasn't Obama "pivoted" to jobs, like the White House said he would do? Because he understands that he's done what he can -- if all the stimulus did was save the jobs of state and municipal government employees, then $15 billion in temporary, targeted payroll tax exemptions will not spur recovery. After the pivot, Obama would have nothing to do but cheerlead and wait until the economy recovered on its own (which it seems already to be slowly doing). At least health care reform gives him something to talk about.
An interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD.5:55 PM, Mar 9, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak said yesterday at a townhall in his home state, "I'm more optimistic than I was a week ago" that a deal could be reached to pass a health care bill that bans public funding of abortion. Some speculated that this meant Stupak was ready to cave. "Obviously they don’t know me," Stupak said in an interview this afternoon with THE WEEKLY STANDARD. "If I didn’t" cave in November, "why would I do it now after all the crap I’ve been through?"
Sources say the investigation into Massa will be damning.11:17 AM, Mar 9, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Reliable sources on Capitol Hill say the House ethics report on Eric Massa will be damning. Obamacare opponents, like Glenn Beck, might want to think twice before indulging Massa and letting this Democratic creep become the posterboy of Obamacare opposition.
The search for votes continues.9:48 AM, Mar 9, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
In the umpteenth liberal column urging the president to "get tough" and "fight back" and "pass the damn bill," Richard Cohen writes: "What's wrong with the old belief -- a virtual childhood mantra -- that 'majority rules'?"
Good question! Let's take a moment for a basic civics lesson. The United States is not a unicameral majoritarian democracy. It is a bicameral constitutional republic with minority rights, checks and balances, and dispersed power. The majority does not rule. Why? Because the Founders sought to guard against what Tocqueville called the "tyranny of the majority." Liberals can bemoan this fact all they want. In order to change it, however, they would have to enact real change to the Constitution and the rules of the U.S. Senate. Good luck with that.