Ping Pong Health Care

ping-pong-paddlesssMickey Kaus argues that the Democrats have a “secret weapon” that could get the health care bill passed:

People in the know in Washington appear to have already considered and dismissed the “ping pong” option–the possibility that if the Senate finally passes a compromise health care bill, Pelosi’s House might simply vote “yes” on the exact same bill, avoiding the need for a “conference” to reconcile the House and Senate versions and instead sending the bill directly to the President for his signature. But from outside Washington, out here in the real America, this “ratification” route still looks awfully appealing–especially this week.

He understands that this is extraordinarily unlikely for political reasons but figures that the House could be persuaded to go along if it was presented as “Senate version or no version.”  And it would preclude another round of being held hostage by Olympia Snowe and Joe Lieberman.

It’s an interesting option but it ain’t gonna happen — mostly for the very reasons Kaus hopes it will.  A goodly number of Democrats in both the House and the Senate are voting Yes for the bill before them precisely because there’s zero chance that they’ll be passed into law.   It’s easier to get dicey legislation through the House, of course, but would a majority vote to go with an unpopular Senate version?  I can’t imagine.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. “A goodly number of Democrats in both the House and the Senate are voting Yes for the bill before them precisely because there’s zero chance that they’ll be passed into law.”

    How do you figure? I know this is something of a GOP talking point, that health care reform is so gosh-darned unpopular that the Dems are just doing this for show to shore up the lefty base. But I don’t get the sense that’s the case actually. I know the Dems, on the whole, think getting a bill passes is a big political win, and the GOPs think the reverse so are willing to fight to the death on it. Lieberman knows he can never win a Democratic primary anymore, so he’s going to jump ship and run for the GOP nomination in 2012, and he positioning himself for that.

    Just my $0.02.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Most people want “health care reform” but the particular bills that are coming out are seemingly hated by just about everybody.

  3. Naw. Once they pass and people realize that all the BS about killing grandma and government bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor aren’t true, all people will notice is that they don’t have the problem of getting dropped from their insurance because they are sick, or losing coverage overall if they lose their jobs.

    Republicans are not worried about the medical consequences of the proposal, they are worried about giving the Democrats a big win… which it would be.

    Otherwise, heck, the Repubs would just let the bill pass and let the Dems commit suicide. If you are a Republican strategist and really believe the current proposal is political suicide, why not let it pass?

    There is nothing objectionable in the proposal in any real sense. No one will be worse off. Yeah, it might cost a few bucks, but a lot less than Bush’s prescription drug benefit, and a lot less than his tax cuts on the wealthy, and a lot less than the war in Iraq, or Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan.

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    Do you remember campaign finance reform and people who voted for it sure that certain parts would be struck down by the supremes (and then weren’t)? It looks like absent gop defections, as of now it won’t come up for a vote. Given the cnn poll of 61 percent against the current version, I don’t see the ping pong as likely. Don’t forget that the ping pong would also require another house vote which was close and now would be for all the marbles if the senate did pass it.

    The more likely outcome is the dems trying to make 2010 about health care not passing. At 61 percent against, they are welcome to try.

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    Costs are not addressed in the current bills, only insurance. We need lots of small bills to try and control costs which would lead to lower insurance rates and more being able to afford it. The monstrosity we have now is a simple government take over and it’s not what the people want.

    Democrats and Republicans both know it will cost a fortune. Republicans care about that while Democrats don’t. That’s also why Leiberman is saying no.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    There is nothing objectionable in the proposal in any real sense. No one will be worse off. Yeah, it might cost a few bucks

    Most of the costs are passed onto the states through Medicaid. My state can’t afford it (Illinois) and people are starting to figure out that a lot of the benefits Congress would like to claim are through costs it passes on to the states.

    Other than that, the cost of the reform is going to increase health care premiums for many who thought that the well-to-do were supposed to pay for this. In these tough times, many will drop coverage and pay the penalty. They will be paying not to be insured. Do you not see the outrage building?

  7. “Other than that, the cost of the reform is going to increase health care premiums for many who thought that the well-to-do were supposed to pay for this.”

    Um, no. Because that is just right-wing fear-mongering.

    Ron Brownstein’s take is compelling: http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/11/a_milestone_in_the_health_care_journey.php.

    Anyway, look, all I am saying is that if Republicans really thought it was political suicide for Dems, they wouldn’t be opposing it.

    As I recall, the Dems didn’t filibuster the idiotic Schiavo law. Why? Because they knew it made the GOP look foolish, and they let them go ahead and look foolish.

    If GOPers really believe this story, they’d be happy to get the Dems to pass it and then retake the Congress in 2010 and presidency in 2012. But they know it is a good (not great) measure, and would be a significant Democratic victory.

  8. An Interested Party says:

    Democrats and Republicans both know it will cost a fortune. Republicans care about that while Democrats don’t.

    Yes of course, Republicans care deeply about fortunes being spent–when Democrats are behind such spending…their concern seems to evaporate when their party does the same thing…

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    Letting the Dems pass it in order to gain seats in Congress would forever damage the country. I doubt the Republicans could stomach knowing they had abandoned the people for control of a sinking boat. This fight is real.

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