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Friday, November 6, 2009

On Eve of Vote: Dems Winging It

As it stands now, the Democrats plan on holding a floor vote this Sunday. Of course, that's already been delayed twice. Initially, Speaker Pelosi wanted to hold the vote right now. That was pushed off until tomorrow, and now until Sunday. Why did this happen? It's because the Democrats are scheduling the vote before securing the votes to pass it.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer still expects the House to approve its sweeping health care bill Saturday, but conceded the vote could slip until Sunday or even early next week.

Hoyer acknowledged House leaders were still shy of the 218 votes needed, amid flare-ups among anti-abortion Democrats and immigration advocates. Hoyer also warned of Republican delaying tactics that he said could push off plans to vote Saturday evening.

In trial work, there's a simple premise for an attorney. Don't ask a witness a question unless you know exactly how they'll answer it. Well, in Congress, don't schedule a vote unless you know for sure that vote will go your way.

Speaker Pelosi put all of this together behind closed doors with a very small entourage. Clearly, when she rolled it out, she had no idea if the bill had the votes to pass. Despite that totally fumbling she scheduled a vote. Now, she's put that vote back twice and she still doesn't have the votes to pass it.

The problem is that the caucus is now fighting over issues with no easy answers.

House Democratic leaders faced down a revolt from Hispanics in the Caucus who say they don't want a prohibition supported by the White House but not in the House bill that restricts illegal immigrants from buying insurance through a government-established exchange. A ban exists in the Senate version of health insurance reform.

But Pelosi and others are also working furiously to finalize language to restrict federal funding of abortion demanded by pro-life Democrats. Democrats are looking to add the new provisions as part of the debate "rule."

This is the definition of heads I lose tails you win. The president has stressed that he won't sign a bill that will cover illegals or fund abortions. Yet, the Democrats can't figure out how to pass a bill that does both of those things.

Think about how politically incompetent all of this is. These debates aren't new. It's not as though the Speaker should be surprised about these issues. They've been a problem all along. She never resolved any of them. Instead, she moved the process forward without figuring out how to reconcile all of it so that she had a majority.

As such, even if she does get a bill passed it won't be a bill that could ever be reconciled with the Senate. It certainly wouldn't meet the specifications of the President. If she were to pass a bill that bill would be butchered and demonized by opponents for the next two months as breaking the president's promises.

This bill is already struggling to reach above 40% approval. The president is going to endorse it imminently. What will happen when opponents start to beat the drum that this bill will cover illegals and pay for abortions? The bill will fall into the low 30% range. The Senate is nowhere near passing anything and reconciliation of the two bills is still months away. So, Pelosi is just giving opponents yet another reason to demonize the bill. The whole process is stunning in it's amateurishness.

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