- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

House passage of the Democrats’ health care bill is not a foregone conclusion despite their 75-seat majority in the chamber. While party leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House spinmeister David Axelrod bravely express confidence, Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the House majority whip, conceded on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Democrats don’t have enough votes yet.

The all-out effort to ram through the legislation before Easter recess is telling. If members of Congress merely risked being confronted by Potemkin crowds that don’t represent the majority of voters, there would be nothing to fear. However, Democratic strategists know these crowds are very real and very mad, and the mobs will rattle wavering congressional votes, especially in vulnerable districts. The latest Rasmussen poll shows that independents oppose the mass of new regulations and taxes by a wide margin of 64 percent to 32 percent.

Despite the barrage of political attacks on insurance companies over the past year, 76 percent of Americans with insurance still rate their coverage as “excellent” or “good.” Rasmussen Reports notes that this group has “proven to be a major obstacle for advocates of reform.” Last year, Mr. Obama repeatedly promised he wouldn’t interfere with the insurance of those who liked their current policies, but that vow has been broken. It’s no wonder a constant trickle of Democrats is expressing concern about the party’s policy agenda.

According to the latest vote count, released early Tuesday morning by the Hill newspaper, 37 Democrats are either firm “no” votes or “leaning no.” Add a wavering Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, New York Democrat, and the number is 38. That is the exact number needed to defeat the bill, and it is up from the 25 firm “no” or “leaning no” votes on Thursday. Of the 38, 28 voted against the bill in November. In total, 55 Democrats reportedly are undecided. If the nays hold and just two of those undecided votes switch, the bill will be defeated.

According to Rep. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat, special deals were offered recently to peel off one or two of the 11 Democrats who stood with him against government-funded abortions. He accused his party’s leadership of never having had any intention of fixing the abortion language, a posture he attributed to the leaders’ belief that the votes of the 12 pro-life Democrats wouldn’t be needed. “We’ll probably have to wait until the Republicans take back the majority to fix this,” Mr. Stupak told National Review, almost sounding wistful for that day.

Democrats are full of a lot of false bravado. Through July, August and October, they kept claiming the votes to pass the health care takeover were imminent. They were wrong.

Democrats still may be able to cobble together enough backroom payoffs or use various tricks and pressure for passage. On Intrade, the largest prediction market, the betting is swinging in favor of the health care takeover, with the latest odds giving Democrats a 70 percent chance of passing it. Stopping this travesty depends on voters expressing their outrage to Democrats on Capitol Hill.

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