The political intrigue being witnessed on this day is heightened by incredibly unique circumstances surrounding the actual vote.
First, it is very rare, for Congress to convene during the weekend. Second, it is not at all certain if Democrats have all the votes they need to pass the bill, however it is seemingly certain that every Republican is voting against it.
Third, as this is being written, President Obama is on Capitol meeting with fellow Democrats who are in the House. He is said to be telling them that his presidency is on the line with this vote. According to the Administration, if they fail to pass this legislation they will have a hard time getting future legislation passed. In politics, the term being used to get votes for healthcare reform right now, is to “walk the plank”. This means that the Administration and Speaker Pelosi are aware of the fact that many Democrats in moderate and even Republican districts may be voting against the will of their constituents. But The President and Pelosi are asking that they still walk the plank for them. They are claiming that if the Party fails to pass this bill, the liberal base of the party will not be there for those who voted against the bill and they may very well be so disappointed in the Democrat Party that the liberal base will sit at home come the 2010 general elections.
It is not often that the President of the United States personally comes to The Hill to twist arms in order to get members of his own party to vote for one of his initiatives. Doing so makes it clear that the liberal leadership is not sure that they have enough Democrats walking the plank for them. Republicans even claim that they have a commitment from 21 Democrats who say that they are voting no.
As of last week, 43 Democrats were voting against Pelosicare. That would have produced 215 yea votes to 220 nays. But since last week, hundreds of backroom deals have been made behind closed doors, twice as many arms were twisted and tons of changes have been made to the original bill in an attempt to at least win the minimum 218 votes needed to make this boondoggle law. Many of the changes have to do with language in the bill which would allow public funding in the bill to be allowed for abortion procedures. Quite a few socially conservative Democrats are opposed to such language but it would seem that many Blue Democrats are nothing more than lap dogs. Last night it would seem that many have shifted their support and at the moment Democrats are only 10 votes short of passing their liberal legislation.
But now, as the moment of truth approaches, the pressure being placed on Democrats to place their loyalty to party above their loyalty to their principles and the constituents they represent, is unlike any ever seen since LBJ personally called Democrat Senators and promised to use his own hands to crack their heads open if they didn’t support and pass his historic civil rights legislation.
For their part, Republicans have vowed to do everything possible to prevent this bill from being passed. They will use procedural objections and other tactics to stall it. They will also hold Democrats to their pledge to put a final version of legislation on line for a period of 72 hours before it comes to the floor for a full vote. The GOP will point out that with all the last minute changes being made to the bill in an attempt to win over any available Democrat votes, voting on the bill tonight would be premature and provide the American people with at least 72 hours to review the bill themselves.
For Democrats, if the healthcare reform bill does not get passed by the House, the Senate is not likely to bring it up for a vote and force Democrats to take a stand on the controversial issue. That would mean that Democrats would have to push the issue next year, during the midterm elections. It is more than likely that the President and Democrats will not want to be pushing a controversial debate that they are on the losing side of while they are also trying to win reelection and keep a hold on their majority power. So tonight is probably now or never for liberal attempts to have the government takeover health care and insurance.
This afternoon Speaker Pelosi spoke of the pending vote and called it “historic”. What she failed to mention is that history has two parts. There are good parts and there are bad parts. Rational people appreciate and support the good parts of history but they are not willing to repeat the worst parts of our history. Yes Madame Speaker; this 1,900 page novel which amounts to a government takeover of healthcare and insurance will forever more have the government micromanage what should be our health choices.
Yes indeed this is a historic vote but for all the wrong reasons. Hitler and Soviet style socialism are also historic but they reflect a history that we wish never happened and your government takeover of one fifth of our economy is something that most Americans hopes never happens.