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Healthcare reform depends on the House

Based on this WaPo story, the fate of healthcare reform could rest in the House of Representatives.

If that’s the case, it could be good news for us anti-reformists:

In the House, the only way to cobble together a majority will be to secure votes from moderate Democrats who balked at passing the bill the first time around. These are the lawmakers who are most rattled by the Massachusetts vote — with good reason. For a Democratic House member in a swing district, the politics counsel against voting yes. “This is a career-ending vote,” one Democrat told me — and this was a lawmaker who voted for the original bill.

With the House down a few members, 217 votes will be needed for passage. The original House measure passed with 220 votes — with 39 Democrats defecting. But two of those yes votes are gone: John Murtha of Pennsylvania died; Robert Wexler of Florida resigned. A third, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, is leaving at the end of the month to run for governor. The lone Republican voting for the measure, Joseph Cao of Louisiana, is no longer on board.

Meanwhile, the president’s proposal does not include the anti-abortion language inserted in the House-passed measure by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), largely because the Senate would have difficulty fiddling with abortion language under the restrictive rules of the reconciliation process. So Stupak will be gone, and with him another five votes, perhaps more.

When you build a majority based on the election of predominantly centrist members, you shouldn’t be surprised when your coalition crumbles when party leadership (including the President) tries to ram through radical legislation.  That’s what’s happening here.

The Democrats built their majorities on the elections of Blue Dog Democrats or conservative Democrats in red states, during the last two years of the Bush administration, not because of the country “moving left” or rejecting conservatism.  This is something the majority leadership will never understand and will lead to their undoing.

Republicans were voted into the minority because they acted like liberal Democrats. Democrats are facing similar issues now because they are acting like….well, liberal Democrats.  And that’s more of a win-win situation for Republicans, if they play their cards right.

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