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Saturday, March 20th 2010

Why The Whip Counts & The Bill Don’t Matter

It has become a fun past time to try to predict the future of the insurance reform bill. As I write the contract is dipping a bit on Intrade, Slate is confident, Firedoglake’s whip count has it as iffy, and The Hill’s whip count is promising.

As fun as all this is I am now of the opinion of Yglesias,

[T]here’s some critical mass of votes you need, short of a majority, at which point you start the doomsday countdown. Now that the count is underway, you can’t change the bill. So there’s no point in holding out for changing. And you “scale the bill down” or “start over” either. You have a victory, or you have a humiliating defeat. And everyone’s in the same boat. At that point, the votes will materialize.

Book this one, the House will pass the Senate’s bill tomorrow.

I’ve made my lack of faith in the Democratic caucus obvious. But when due give them some credit. Pelosi will come up with the votes and give nothing further away for such.

Pelosi told reporters there will be “no separate vote” on abortion or any other measure.

And Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a leading pro-choice progressive, said they’re moving ahead without him. “There’s not going to be any deal made with Mr. Stupak…there’s been no deal whatsoever. He’s been told that his language is not going to be added to the legislation,” she told me this morning.

“We think we have the votes regardless, and we’re going to be moving forward,” Schakowsky said. “Yes. We do think we have the votes without him.”

Things have fallen into place from the CBO scoring (here’s the full CBO report),

According to reports, CBO estimates that the combined package will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years, 2020 to 2029, it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.

To last minute stake holder support. To the abandonment of Stupak.

My pessimism on any sort of reform was ill placed. That’s not to give the Democratic leadership a full pat on the back. The reform they’ve mustered can hardly even be called such with a straight face. I continue to contend it’s long term prospects for expanding access to care enough to, say, do things like effect our broad health care metrics are dismal. My pessimism on this issue may however be tapered by the idea of this bill as a ‘building block’. It remains however that the progressive caucus has conceded the vast majority of semblance of cost control, and thus long term expansion of access to care, in this bill. The liberal Firedoglake bemoans the same and has a great table looking at what is promised with insurance reform and the realities of it.

The fact the democrats have struggled to pass even this bill is something less than impressive. But to be fair I didn’t even give them that much credit.