Dems' Options: Senate-Packing, Queen Olympia, Mass Kidnapping
Yesterday Democrats suffered a mortifying trouncing in Massachusetts’ special Senate election, in which Republican Scott Brown zoomed from 17 points behind Democrat Martha Coakley in the polls less than two weeks ago to winning by a handy 5%.
As AP reported, “Brown’s victory was so sweeping, he even won in the Cape Cod community where Kennedy, the longtime liberal icon, died of brain cancer last August.”
To be fair, Coakley did manage to capture 84% of Cambridge, Amherst, and Provincetown, which tend to serve as bellwethers for—well, themselves.
Coakley’s complaint that her poll numbers started to drop right after the Senate passed its version of the health care bill on Christmas rang a bit hollow, given that she campaigned vociferously to vote for that very health care bill if elected to Congress.
In the wake of the clear message sent to them by the people of Massachusetts, Democrats are slowly backing away from their suicidal insistence on passing a bill only 33% of Americans favor and that even they don’t like, considering more bipartisan/free-market solutions, and resolving to address healthcare reform in a more piecemeal fashion.
Gotcha! Actually, Democrats are considering a number of insane, Mission Impossible-style workaround strategies to thwart the will of the people and pass their health care bill without a filibuster-proof Senate. These include:
• Forcing the House to pass the Senate bill, word-for-word, with nary a change in punctuation. This option would throw out all of the heatedly negotiated agreements between the two chambers conducted in the past few weeks, including the major union employee exemption to the excise tax on “Cadillac plans.” It would also ignore many of the other differences between the bills for which Democrats in the House say they cannot accept the House version as is, such as language on abortion funding. House Democrat Bart Stupak, author of the Stupak Amendment, reported on Monday that “House members will not vote for the Senate bill. There’s no interest in that.” He added that when the notion was proposed at a caucus meeting among Democrats, “It went over like a lead balloon.”
• Tricking the House into passing the Senate bill and promising them that it will be morphed into a bill more to their liking “later.”
• Using the byzantine budget reconciliation process to ram the bill through. This would subject weary Americans to several more months of reports of Democrats using sneaky, behind-closed-doors, parliamentary procedures no one understands to get their way—a surefire Democratic victory strategy for the midterm elections in November.
If these strategies don’t work, it is conceivable that Democrats may try any of the following makeshift schemes (I hate to give them any ideas, but it’s probably best that we be forewarned):
• Abolishing the filibuster. Democrats would of course reinstate the filibuster in time for the November elections, when they will lose one or both chambers of Congress and will need it as protection against devious, heavy-handed Republicans.
• Concocting some fake scandal involving Scott Brown, or another Republican from a state with a Democratic governor, that forces him to resign, thus allowing the governor of said state to appoint a Democratic replacement Senator.
• Crowning Olympia Snowe Queen of the Senate and letting her rewrite the bill to her specifications, including funding for her own blueberry farm and stock options in L.L. Bean.
• “Packing the Senate” à la FDR’s court-packing scheme in the 1930s.
• Kidnapping Republican legislators and replacing them with genetically engineered Manchurian candidate clones who have been brainwashed to vote for the bill.
Think these scenarios are outlandish? Democrats have demonstrated that, as House Minority Leader John Boehner noted, “They are going to try every way, shape, and form to shove this bill down the throats of the American people.”
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi commented that the special Senate election is not a referendum on the health care bill, because—get this—Massachusetts already has universal coverage. She elaborated, “Massachusetts has health care. The rest of the country would like to have that too. So we don’t say a state that already has health care should determine whether the rest of the country should.” No, I think a state that has already suffered its own version of Obamacare is trying to do us all a favor by warning us about what a nightmare it would be.
Democrats have made it through the town hall gauntlet, they’ve cheated death in squeakers of votes in both chambers, they’ve gone on record in the past 48 hours insisting that they will get health care reform “one way or another” and that “health care will pass no matter what.” Why should they stop now?
I have one more suggestion for Democrats, which they are less likely to consider than any of the ideas above, including the kidnapping plot, but which might just save some of their skins.
Listen to the American people and kill the damn bill.