The Corner

An Out for House Democrats

Jonathan Cohn is still trying to talk House Democrats into passing the Senate health-care bill:

Remember, Republicans will blame you for this bill anyway. Unless you’re among the few Democrats who opposed it on the first go-round, you’ve already voted for health care reform. And you can bet the Republicans will let voters know that come November. You’ll be the representative who voted for that awful liberal boondoggle that, thankfully, the Senate blocked at the final stages of deliberation. Or maybe you want to explain to constituents why you were for health care reform before you were against it.

Actually, very few Democrats who voted for the Pelosi health bill need to vote against the Reid bill in order to kill it. If Reps. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) and Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.) vote against the bill, and Rep. Anh Cao (R., La.) joins them, and everybody else in the House votes the way they did last time, the bill dies. How hard would it be for them to say that the bill they voted for blocked federal financing of abortion, and this one doesn’t?

How hard would it be for another Democrat to say, “I agree with Howard Dean, this bill isn’t worth passing without a public option”? Or: “I voted in the fall to keep the process going but it has become clear to me, especially as I have listened to the strong public outcry against this bill, that I cannot support it.”

Maybe it’s in the collective interest of Democrats as a caucus to pass the Senate bill, though I doubt it. It’s not in their individual interest. Every Republican challenger I’ve talked to would rather run against a yes vote than a no vote.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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