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The logic of passing health-care reform

Former Bush-advisor Keith Hennessey thinks the health-care bill is going to pass:

219 House Democrats (and one Republican) and 60 Senate Democrats have already voted aye on final passage of one of these bills. For each of these Members, the easier path is probably to vote the same way they did last time. Changing to a no vote means they have to explain their flip. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid and their whips can think of their vote-counting exercise as “How many votes do we lose from 220/60 we have if we do X,” rather than “How do we build up to 218/60 votes.” I assume the overwhelming majority of the House and Senate Democratic caucus can be taken for granted as an “aye” vote, assuming the substance ends up somewhere between the two bills. (No member would ever admit that their vote is independent of substance, of course.)

On the White House side, as Hennessey says, "the President has indicated his support for both bills, and will presumably support any compromise that can pass both Houses. The binding constraint is therefore 218 & 60 [votes], not any particular policy element, allowing the Leaders tremendous policy flexibility they need to get votes." To put it more simply: Congress wants to pass a bill. The White House wants to pass a bill. And the most controversial element -- the public option -- isn't really on the table any longer.

That said, the bill still has to go through "ping-pong." And Hennessey has a usefully detailed explanation of the mechanics of that process.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 7, 2010; 7:42 AM ET
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OK, but those 218 & 60 voted for different bills. There are areas where if you do X you could lose a vote and if you don't do X you could lose a vote. I still agree passage is very likely but Hennessey's characterization of the process (or your extract of it) is far too simple.

(Now I'll go read the whole thing to see what else he says.)

Posted by: IncidentalEcon | January 7, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

As been said before Obama will sign anything labeled healthcare "reform", no matter what it is. He has no principals on the issue.

Posted by: RobT1 | January 7, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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