Monday, January 18, 2010

If Brown wins in Massachusetts, what happens to the health care bill? 

Keith Hennessey explains the procedures and politics that will come into play. Then bravely makes his predictions.

Elsewhere, Barney Frank's prediction: "If Scott Brown wins, it'll kill the health bill."

But it wouldn't be an easy death. As Hennessey points out, even if Brown wins and the Democrats lose their 60th vote in the Senate thereafter, they'll have ample procedural options to push the bill through.

And if the political blowback from doing so "despite the will of the people" costs some Democratic legislators their seats, well, "The President, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Reid ... would not directly bear the electoral risk of enacting a new law. I think they long ago concluded that enacting a new health entitlement is worth losing a few Members."

But the problem there is that the Members may not feel it is worth losing a few Members, when they are the Members to be lost. Just one Democratic Senator "saving himself" by defecting under some plausible political pretext, or only a small handful of Representaives doing so, would collapse the whole thing to make Barney Frank's prediction come true.

And that would be a death of the health care bill amid Democratic internecine warfare.

May we live in interesting times!

I'm a lifetime political independent, but I'll be pulling for Brown to win just for the fun of seeing things become more interesting.