Friday, December 18, 2009

Political Calculus of Health Care

Looking ahead to 2010, the political calculus of health care's impact on congressional elections leads me to an unsettling conclusion, namely that Republicans would be electorally much better off allowing a health care bill to pass that was crappy enough to anger both the left and the right. Dean has pointed out that the left is getting whipped into rebellion over the shape of the health care "reform" coming out of the Senate. Jay Cost of RCP sets the table for this line of reasoning by analyzing Harry Reid's dilemma in assembling 60 votes in the Senate.

My take is that the frustrated left led by the likes of Kos and Howard Dean, will withhold cash, support and maybe even votes in 2010, if health care "reform" passes in its rumored current form. (I say rumored, because no one can tell for sure what is actually in the bill at any moment.) Given the enraged and energized state of the right-leaning electorate and the lack of Obama at the top of the ticket to get out the African-American vote, this could be an immense disaster for the Democrats. Further, as I pointed out earlier, the moderates in middle-America would suffer under new taxes that would immediately raise employment costs, without a single benefit until 2013.

Mitch McConnell has come under criticism from Rush for not doing enough to stop this bill. But if Mitch was the evil genius he's sometimes accused of being, then he might be fine tuning his opposition to get the bill to be as crappy as possible, to then just let it pass. Alternatively, he might just be along for the ride at this point, thinking he has a win-win. If health care passes as is, he scores big and if health care loses, he still scores big. An old friend of mine, Jeff, once told me "Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity." That might apply here.


  1. B-Daddy, thanks for the link.

    The Dems have painted themselves into a corner and are hosed either way.

    Having said that and taking into account my skepticism of the Republicans governing as an effective majority, bad legislation is bad legislation that will have negative consequences for all of us.

    No calculatin', no triangulatin'... kill Obamacare. Kill it dead.

  2. I think there will be bigger things than this haapening before the elections. The Iranian incursion into Iraq is just them testing the waters to see what we'll do. (Nothing.)

    Also, in the absence of Brad Setser analyzing Treasury data, I've started looking into it myself and it's not pretty. As far as I can tell, foreign governments are now net sellers of bonds just at the time when we're realizing that we'll need to borrow more money this year than we did last year.

    Things are going to get interesting.

  3. Dean,
    I totally agree. "Kill the Bill." My concern is that the "evil geniuses" of the Republican party will let something sufficiently putrid to pass, just to make electoral hay.

    I agree that if the feds are forced to start raisin rates and that pricks the current asset bubble inflation, then the Dems are in very deep trouble. My problem is that the Republicans have never really repented of earmarks and porkulus themselves and don't deserve a majority either.

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