Pelosi's strategy to get the votes
Dennis Kucinich's decision to switch his vote from "no" to "yes" is interesting. The Senate bill, even with the reconciliation fixes, will be a much more conservative document than the House bill. There'll be no public plan, lower subsidies, an excise tax of some sort, an independent Medicare commission and more. So what you have here is the bill moving to the right even as it picks up votes from the left.
If you want to see how Nancy Pelosi gets the votes, Kucinich offers a hint. She unites her left flank, as these folks may not like the bill, but they love what the bill is trying to do and they don't want to destroy Barack Obama's presidency. And then she goes to however many Blue Dogs and strays as she needs and says, basically, that this bill is more to your liking than the original. The cost controls are stronger, the public option is gone and there's even an entitlement reform component. You won! This argument, incidentally, has the virtue of being true.
When you combine the bill's increased policy appeal to conservative Democrats with the political reality that conservative Democrats are often vulnerable Democrats who are in particular trouble if the bill collapses and the party enters an electoral death spiral, that may well be enough to wrangle the final few votes. From their perspective, this is a better bill than it was before and, if anything, it's more politically important to the Democratic Party than it was before. Those factors combined are probably worth a couple extra votes.
Photo credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post
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