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The Donnybrook
Monday, January 18, 2010
Looking Bad for Health Care Bill...

Senator Martha Coakely (D) is a too-close-to-call race for the Senate seat she was appointed to after Ted Kennedy died. Some outlier polls have her down by about 10 points, but there is no real consensus on where the "real" numbers lie. The only consensus point is that she has lost the momentum and stands a very real chance of losing the race. If she does lose, Obama's Health Care bill may be dead. The Dems need to retain 60 seats and to prevent a Republican filibuster because not even Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) could be convinced to vote for the Senate bill. This would be a huge political defeat for Obama and would mean that there is little chance for any major legislative initiatives in 2010 - or after - because the Republicans are likely to net several Senate seats in November and a healthy handful of House seats. While the Mass race has become a national referendum on health care, citizens of that Commonwealth already have almost universal coverage. Turnout will be key in this race tomorrow and the race is crucial for Obama's agenda even beyond health care. A Dem loss tomorrow in Massachusetts will create a nightmare political landscape for the administration and the Democratic party for the rest of the year.

UPDATE: the Boston Globe reports that:

• Without all 60 votes, Democratic leaders would still have a number of options for hustling a health bill through Congress. None is certain to work, and all carry political risks. One option is for the House to pass the Senate version of the bill quickly, sending it straight to President Obama for his signature."

• "Another option would be for Democrats to begin working around the clock and to pass a bill before Brown gets seated."
Both options suck as they would be seen as usurping the will of the Mass voters and would be termed, not unfairly, as underhanded politics. Trying to use the reconciliation process would lower the Senate threshold to 51 votes, but it there is a debacle in Massachusetts, moderates may chose to vote against the bill. At the same time, not passing any health care will leave the Democrats' agenda in the shitter. Dems really need to see Coakley pull this out, or 2010 is going to be much rougher than they expected.


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