Friday, March 19, 2010

In Defense of No Votes from the Left

I know this makes me an FDL-style dead-ender, but I for one was sad to see Special K flip-flop, and I'm happy that someone like Stephen Lynch is going to vote no. This bill is in fact the most leftward shift of domestic policy in my life time, but it ain't perfect. House liberals have been forced to swallow an awful lot of garbage just to pass something. Someone ought to say something about this on the House floor. Meanwhile, thirty-five conservative or moderate Democrats are going to end up voting against this thing. Some of them are retiring (Marion Berry). Some of them are not particularly vulnerable (Colin Peterson). Some of them are probably going to lose no matter what happens (Bobby Bright). The leadership should Lynch off the hook and get one more moderate to flip his vote (and they're practically all white dudes).

Likewise unions need to decide whether they are better off expending resources in Democratic primaries against people like Mike McMahon in outer-borough NYC, or instead focus on the handful of GOP-held labor-heavy seats that might be competitive in a general election. Jim Gerlach's seat, for instance. Or Frank Lobiondo's. Yes, health care is a big priority but these House Democrats are still your 90% allies.


snarkout said...

This doesn't make sense to me, Nick -- Lynch isn't in a particularly vulnerable seat. Given that he's always run as a Southie who's a voice for the unions, why shouldn't the unions pressure him to support a bill that they're backing? Given that his seat is far down on the list of those likely to flip, why shouldn't Markey or Perriello be screaming about being forced to take a detrimental vote when Lynch walks? And finally, Lynch's comments aside, it seems pretty evident to me that Lynch's stance is based on abortion; I'm in no mood to cut people slack for viewing the Senate language as not restrictive enough.

(Also, Bobby bright is in much better shape than you'd think.)

Neil Sinhababu said...

I'd have to imagine that moderates at risk of losing would get angry about putting their necks on the line if a safe guy like Kucinich is getting a pass. It's not the sort of thing that motivates people to put themselves at risk in collective action problems. Would lefty no votes potentially make it harder to get centrist votes and throw the whole thing into doubt?

On the other hand, maybe there's some gain in the optics when you have a lefty saying, 'no, too moderate for me'. But I doubt this ends up being a big effect.

Neil Sinhababu said...

I am pwned by snarkout

BruceMcF said...

This must be the new math: "Yes, health care is a big priority but these House Democrats are still your 90% allies."

There is no way on God's Green Earth that 90% of Democrats can be counted as labor allies. Perhaps a majority of the caucus, which results in a lot of labor allies in the leadership ... but well over 10% would happily stick the shiv in, if they felt they could do so consequence free.

To get the Democratic caucus to act like 90%+ are labor allies, labor has to work to ensure consequences.

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

You're putting the modifier in the wrong place: the statement here is that Arcuri, Lynch, et. al, are Labor's allies 90% of the time. Not that 90% of Democrats are full-on labor allies (probably closer to 70-80%).

corvus said...

I have absolutely no sympathy for lefties voting against this legislation. There is no reasonable analysis of how that does any good for optics or anything. Not voting for this bill because it is "too moderate" is the really no different from voting against COBRA expansions because it's not instituting single payer. Just as no one would argue that we shouldn't expand healthcare coverage for children because it doesn't go far enough, no one should be arguing that a bill which redistributes 200 billion dollars a year downward, severely eliminates the possibility of medical bankruptcy and lowers the amount that nearly everybody pays for health insurance because it doesn't do enough. Everything it does is good, except for the mandate, which is a necessary evil to achieve one of it's best goals. Voting against this bill really is like voting against sick children, and no bullshit about optics changes this.

This is the wrongest thing that Nick has ever written.

Neil Sinhababu said...

A lot of this depends on whether the lefty no votes are actually endangering the legislation. If they are, it's like Corvus says and they damn well better vote yes.

I guess this could make sense if we assume a situation where Nancy sees that she has more than enough for passage and she can let some lefty vote no, or let a centrist vote no.

In any case, I don't see why the lefty should be Lynch, though. Find somebody more ideological.

ikl said...

This post makes no sense at all. I'm with Corvus.

Lynch should be primaried out of political existence. What a @#$%^@!

How many Dems in districts that McCain won just fliped to yes today? You can't tell me that all of them are politically better off by doing this. At least not compared to a scenario in which the bill passes and they vote no again without making a fuss about it. So Lynch sucks even if this is going to pass anyway. And if there is a chance that it wouldn't, even a very small one, then he is even worse.

FYI, Lynch isn't exactly some great liberal, to put it mildly. So I don't know why you think that he opposes it "from the left". His explanation for his vote just sounds confused to me: "I'm voting against this bill because it is too nice to insurers and also because it slaps a big tax on their most expensive products". Which suggests that his real motives don't have much to do with his explanation.

ikl said...

By the way, if Lynch was really some great champion of the left, he would have run for the Senate. He seems to have pulled the plug on his campaign when figured out that his union friends and others weren't going to support his bid given his lousy record relative to his safe seat. Especially with Capuano in the race.

This is all BS. I have no idea what Lynch is thinking but we are not talking about someone who it should be assume is motivated by support for progressive causes.