Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deem-And-Pass And The Shadow Of Kerry

I agree that the whole deem-and-pass maneuver for getting health care reform through the House is silly. Of course, the costs of doing it are pretty small -- at this point, people disposed to hate on Democrats for process reasons will be hating anyway. And those people were likely to be voting against us from the start.

The benefits, I think, are that House Democrats don't get attacked for voting for the Cornhusker Kickback and other annoying Senate bill stuff, and instead get attacked for using deem-and-pass. This is slightly better, since the Cornhusker Kickback might annoy an actual swing voter while nobody really cares about deem-and-pass. Of course, if attacked for voting for the Cornhusker Kickback, they would've been able to say "I voted to pass health care reform, but then I voted to strip bad stuff like that out!" And really that should convince people, and probably it will, but in the shadow of John Kerry's infamous "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" somebody or other is really nervous about trying to say anything like that.

Anyway, that's my guess about what's going through the head of the marginal House Dem who is more willing to vote for the bill if the leadership does the deem-and-pass thing. This is all of minute significance, but I guess while people are talking about it I might as well too.


Unknown said...

At this point lets do what ever had to be doen so we can move on to other equally pressing issues like the much needed financial reform! Thanks for the info.

corvus said...

My feeling on deem and pass is, if it makes it easier to get the votes do it. It really doesn't matter. I don't see why certain progressive commentators are getting bent out of shape about this, and I don't think it does any use to anyone saying you think it's a bad idea. It really doesn't matter how it all gets passed as long as it becomes law. If this gets it into law, then it's a good approach. I don't care if it won't do what Dems are hoping for. Everything is secondary to getting a bill to the Rose Garden, and bitching about that process, in any fashion, does Healthcare no favors.

ikl said...

If there are any possible grounds for a non-frivolous legal challange, then this is a profoundly stupid idea. I don't know enough about the relevant law to have a point of view, but I certainly wouldn't dismiss the possibility out of hand.

I also think that doing things that lead to process stories dominating the news is also very bad messaging strategy. "Up or down vote" is a much better public position then "we are passing the Senate bill but not really voting on it directly".

Neil Sinhababu said...

As usual, I'm basically with Corvus on this.

ikl, I thought that the many Republican uses of self-executing rules give us security from a legal challenge. And didn't the courts uphold the legality of the procedure at some point? But you probably understand this stuff better than me.

Ron E. said...

The whole thing is silly. If you vote to "deem" the Senate bill passed, how is that different from voting yes on it in an actual roll call? But no actual voters who would consider voting for a Democrat will care about it in November, so I agree with the rest of you that if deeming is what it takes to get the House to do the obvious, then deem it should be.

ikl said...

I wouldn't trust House Republicans as legal authorities on anything. Just because one party did something unconstitutional doesn't mean that the other party can.

My understanding is that the DC Circuit said that this was OK. That is pretty good authority, but anyone with any sense who wants to challange it will try to find a way to bring a case in, say, the 5th Circuit. The 5th Circuit isn't bound by the DC Circuit (although they usually try not to disagree with each other) and if there is a Circuit split the Supreme Court would decide. Not a scenario I want to see. Even if we win.