It's Stupak Stupid

by digby

So everybody in politics today is having a breakdown because the Senate lost a seat last night and Barney Frank said that the House can't pass the health reform bill as is. Oy vey.

Here's the thing. They really don't have the votes and frank is just stating the obvious. And it isn't because of the liberals. Here's dday one more time discussing the possibility of the House passing the Senate bill as is in the event of a Brown victory:

Enough of the 39 conservative Dems would see the Senate bill as closer to their priorities for health care reform to offset liberals who may defect. And House liberals always seem to come back to the herd anyway.

But that treats passage of the Senate bill in a post-Brown environment as a policy and not a political problem. Cohn says that anyone who has already voted for the bill has sealed their fate on it in terms of attack ads, but that doesn’t account for those who, in Cohn’s world would flip their vote to Yes after a Republican was elected in Massachusetts largely on the slogan that he would be the 41st vote to block health care. As Ben Smith notes, there would be mass panic (Mass panic?) in the caucus, and people don’t usually pass political courage tests in that environment.

And you would have to get some flippers, because the pool of 220 votes from when the House passed their bill in November is gone. Robert Wexler resigned, dropping it to 219. Setting aside the fact that the affordability credits aren’t good enough for the House, the excise tax deal with unions would be invalidated, the exchanges would be state-based, and all the rest – just on the abortion issue alone, and remember the Nelson amendment is in the Senate bill, which Bart Stupak has derided, you probably lose a dozen more. It’s pretty confirmed that you’d lose three – Stupak, Republican Joseph Cao, and Steve Dreihaus.

Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus said he will oppose any version of health care reform legislation that doesn’t clearly prohibit federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.

“I believe in clarity and simplicity, and we should make it simple and clear that taxpayer funds aren’t going to abortion coverage,” said Driehaus, an anti-abortion Catholic from West Price Hill.

Dreihaus is the guy who’s down by 17 points for re-election in the latest poll, so he’s probably dying to come off the bill anyway. [He's now decided to retire --- ed] So a bill with no negotiating room on abortion won’t fly, because those dozen or so Stupak holdouts won’t have much of a problem tanking it. And that’s presuming every liberal swallows hard and takes the bill as it is.

If something is to pass should Brown win, it would only be available through reconciliation – ask Chris Van Hollen. Heck, ask John Podesta, as David Gregory did on Meet the Press yesterday.

It's convenient for everyone to get mad at liberals for tanking health care reform because they "refuse" to pass the Senate bill as is, but the fact is that even if the liberals all voted for it they still wouldn't have the votes.

This bill had a huge problem already because in one house you have a bunch of anti-abortion zealots who insist that this bill be used to advance their cause. In the other, even with the ostensible 60th vote, you had a couple of right wing Democrats and one narcissstic Independent who would have likely voted against a final bill that changed even a comma of the one they originally voted for. And you have a president who allowed Max Baucus to play Romeo with Olympia Snow for months in a misguided attempt to bring together the Democratic Capulets with the Republican Montegues and ended up souring the American public on the whole damned thing.

It is what it is and it is the same thing it was before yesterday. It's a mess. You can blame Frank all you want, but the fact is that politically, the problem doesn't lie with the liberals. It never has. Not that it will stop people from blaming them for everything from the failure of health care to global warming. They are the designated sin eaters of American politics.

Update: if you want HC, you have to go this way:

Dems Eye Bold Plan to Salvage Health Care
By Michael McAuliff

Democratic insiders say they are weighing several options to save health care reform, and one actually may be bold enough to revive a depressed, turned-off Democratic base: use the obscure reconciliation loophole to pass a public option.

“Let’s do a public option, or let’s go back and do a single-payer plan,” a frustrated senior Democrat told the Mouth. “You can have people say, ‘Look, if we’re going to do reconciliation, let’s get more, not get less.’”

“If you’re going to use reconciliation, then use it hard,” the Democrat said, adding that it’s a serious option.

We look at some of the other ideas in the paper today, but that’s the one progressives want.

For instance, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee immediately began sending around a petition last night advising Democrats not to take the wrong lesson from Massachusetts, and to use reconciliation.

“The loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat — due to a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats and Independents — sends a clear message to Congress. The Senate health care bill is not the change we were promised in 2008, and it must be improved. The Senate must use ‘reconciliation’ to pass a better bill with a strong public option.”

You can sign here.