The White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been in secret negotiations on ObamaCare for a few weeks now, yet the election yesterday in Massachusetts of Senator-elect Scott Brown has sent a thunderbolt from Boston to Washington that may push ObamaCare into the critical list.
Senator Obama carried Massachusetts with 62% to 36% on his march to 365 electoral votes and an electoral mandate in 2008. Yesterday, that same state broke 52% to 47% for Republican State Senator Brown over Democrat Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. This election was, in part, a referendum on the President’s health care reform proposal, and it did not win that referendum.
The fact that this state has not had a Republican elected to the Senate since Senator Ed Brooke in 1972 and that seat has not been held by a Republican since Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. in 1952 is evidence that, even in a left leaning state like Massachusetts, the American people are angry and dissatisfied with Washington’s direction on health care reform. An NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll released has only 33% agreeing with the statement that “Obama’s health care plan” is a good idea and 46% opposed. Rasmussen conducted polls in Massachusetts that indicated that a key to the Brown victory is that 41% strongly oppose ObamaCare and a mere 25% strongly favor it. Even the people in left leaning Massachusetts dislike ObamaCare and they voted for a candidate who pledged to filibuster the bill if it comes back to the Senate
Many on the left will read into this shocking victory a message from the people to elites in Washington, D.C. that they should stop all actions on ObamaCare and start over. Some others may want to forge forward and pass ObamaCare by any means necessary because they believe they need a victory and want to cash in all the political capital expended during this debate. The President and Congress are facing a fork in the road and they know there will be electoral ramifications if they choose wrong.
Liberal leaders on Capitol Hill now have 3 options with regard to ObamaCare:
1. Scrap It – The most obvious option is for the Senate not to take any action on the House version of ObamaCare and the House to do the same with the Senate version of health care reform. Starting over on health care reform would consist of taking smaller bites of ObamaCare and working with Republicans to pass elements that have bipartisan support.
2. Pass It ASAP (also known as the Thelma and Louise Strategy) – The most dangerous option for liberals is to forge ahead with ObamaCare and attempt a strong-arm strategy to get it passed within the next few weeks. It is possible for the House to take up the Senate bill in an attempt to pass something this year. The House would need a simple majority and the bill would go to the President’s desk. Reconciliation could be used as a means to get a technical corrections measure to the Senate requiring only a simple majority to pass. This would effectively be the Congress doubling down on ObamaCare and ignoring the will of the American people.
3. Lame Duck Strategy – Wait until the 2010 elections are over and jam everything into a reconciliation bill. There may be so many members who have lost their jobs, they may be willing to pass something during the post election time when they have already lost their jobs.