Normally, one would assume that President Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders wouldn’t press forward toward Armageddon on health care unless they knew they had the votes. This time, however, I don’t think anyone knows whether they have the votes or not. Byron York is skeptical. In today’s column, he deals with the House:
The original House health care bill passed last November by a 220 to 215 margin. But supporters have lost four votes since then. Democrat Rep. Robert Wexler has left the House, and Rep. Neil Abercrombie is expected to leave this week. Rep. John Murtha died, and Republican Rep. Joseph Cao, the only GOP lawmaker to vote for the bill, now says he will vote against the measure. That leaves Democrats with 216 votes, one short of the 217 it will take to pass. (That number is one less than the usual 218 because of the vacancies in the House.)
In addition, it’s thought that some number of Democrats who voted for the original bill will likely vote against the Senate version because it lacks the House bill’s language on the subject of abortion (the president’s proposed compromise doesn’t help on that subject, either). Republicans estimate there may be 11 such Democrats. If there are, that takes the number down to 205, which means Speaker Nancy Pelosi will need to find a dozen “yes” votes to make up the difference. It is widely thought that she had some possible yes votes in reserve last November, to be used if they were absolutely essential to passage. Are there 12? No one knows.
And that doesn’t begin to consider the Democrats who voted in favor of the House bill last November but have now finally been persuaded, by continued public opposition in the polls, the Senate election in Massachusetts, and the generally worsening political climate for Democrats, that another vote in favor of the wildly unpopular health bill would be suicidal. …
Remember, no matter what you hear, the House will have to vote yes on the original Senate bill, outrages and all. … The bottom line: Pelosi is probably many votes short of being able to pass the Senate bill, along with the still-unwritten fixes.
If that’s true, today’s Rasmussen Reports explains why. How is this for a triple whammy for the Democrats? By 56-41 percent, voters oppose Obamacare. Those numbers have barely moved since November. On the generic Congressional ballot, Republicans lead Democrats by nine points. And President Obama’s approval index stands at an anemic -19. Overall, only 45 percent of likely voters approve of the President’s performance.
So the average Democrat in Congress can be forgiven if he thinks Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are trying to lead him over a cliff.