The message has been coming through loud and clear from a number of House members--the votes for the Senate bill aren't there. Barney Frank expanded on his earlier statement in conversations with constituents today, reported at TPM.
I asked him about Democrats' prospects in the 2010 election if they don't get something done on health care. He told me it would be worse electorally for Democrats if they passed the bill versus dropping it and facing voters having done nothing. I told him I disagreed with him on that point, but I suppose he knows more about this stuff than I do. I hope.
Here's what the "one lousy vote" proponents seem to be missing--this one lousy vote could ripple through the entire rest of the legislative session AND into the voting booth in November. There are two points to back up that assessement.
Point number one:
AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuel tells me in an interview that labor won’t support any efforts by the House to pass the Senate health bill in its current form — creating major complications for one of the key solutions Dems are contemplating in the wake of their huge loss last night.
"We don’t want the House to pass the Senate bill," Samuel said a few moments ago by phone. "We would not be in favor of passing the Senate bill without fixing the problems that we’ve identified."
Samuel said that right now, labor viewed only one route forward as acceptable: Creating a bill in the Senate that would address labor’s concerns and passing it through reconciliation, while simultaneously passing the measure through the House.
SEIU President Andy Stern, who has been working on this issue for years, takes a pragmatic approach that recognizes there are fixes that have to be made, and agrees: "The House should pass the Senate's health insurance reform bill - with an agreement that it will be fixed, fixed right, and fixed right away through a parallel process." Please note that these folks are proposing solutions to make the bill better, not to kill it. But these fixes are critical to their membership, and they are fighting for changes that will help not just labor, but all of the middle class, attempting to make this bill more affordable.
Point number two, a Research 2000 poll of Brown voters in Massachusetts shows 82% of Obama voters who went for Brown in Massachusetts support the public option and by a 3:2 margin think that the current bill doesn't go far enough. The Obama voters who stayed home think the bill doesn't go far enough by a 6:1 margin.
HEALTH CARE BILL OPPONENTS THINK IT "DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH"
* by 3 to 2 among Obama voters who voted for Brown
* by 6 to 1 among Obama voters who stayed home
(18% of Obama supporters who voted supported Brown.)
VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT THE PUBLIC OPTION
* 82% of Obama voters who voted for Brown
* 86% of Obama voters who stayed home
It's very hard to convince House members looking at re-election in November to ignore these realities. The bill doesn't have to be killed and it can still be made much better--there's a path for salvaging it that is gaining steam and outside support. Dem leaders have to commit to following that path.