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Count the Votes

Jordan Rau's effort to draw some useful lessons from the collapse of health-care reform in California is worth a read, but it elides one of the biggest differences. The politics might seem similar, but the relevant vote threshold is very different.

As he says, financing was a big problem in California. But that's in part because California requires a two-thirds majority to raise revenue, and Democrats didn't have that many seats. That meant they had to break the revenue out into a ballot initiative, which was pretty much the beginning of the end.

If the Obama administration were operating under similar rules and had to find another seven Republican votes for its health-care bill, it's a pretty safe bet that it wouldn't happen. But it only needs 60 votes and Democrats have 60 senators. Or if you use reconciliation, some reconciliation-ified version of health care needs 50 votes and they have 60 members.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 5, 2009; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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