Jay Cost on the House and Health Care

My pessimism meter is pretty much pegged on the health care issue at them moment. While I will readily agree that it is political suicide for many representatives to vote for this bill given the obvious public opposition, I fear they will do so anyway. I was slightly encouraged, however, by a post by Jay Cost over at the Horse Race Blog. Cost breaks down the “undecideds” in the House on the health care bill with his normal interesting analysis. He starts with this:

How many members should we expect to take a hard-and-fast stand on a bill that has not yet been finalized? If I were a Democratic legislator – I would say something like what (at least a few of) these members said: “I believe in quality, affordable health care for all. When there is a final package, I will read it and make a decision.” Otherwise, I would look awfully prejudiced. The more interesting story, in my judgment, is that several have said they were already decided against the bill.

I’m compiling an alternative count that is based upon public statements and a few key factors, placing members into several categories – all of which allow for the possibility of a nay-to-yea flip. Even if a member comes out and says no, he/she might still change his/her mind. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky did exactly that in 1993 on the Clinton budget vote.The rest of his post breaks down people into different categories such as “very hard to persuade” and “persuadable”. It is too long to quote here but if you are into that kind of analysis, I highly recommend reading his full post (linked above).

The one thing I think is missing from the analysis is outright vote buying. While the version the House would be voting on can’t be modified directly, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about all sorts of “guarantees” of federal monies to specific districts in exchange for support of the bill. Unethical? Yes. But if anything has been made clear to me over the past year it is that concerns of ethics hold no sway over the actions of Pelosi and Reid.

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