The Special Election and Health Care Reform

I am no specialist in American politics so I am asking you to tell me why the following intuition is wrong. Rather than trying to convince Olympia Snow, using the budget reconciliation process, or giving up on health care reform altogether, the House will just pass the Senate bill. After all, the Senate already passed a bill so it doesn’t need to vote again. Compared to the alternatives and the status quo, I suspect that the median voter in the House would prefer the Senate bill. Is there some arcane rule that would prevent this from happening? Am I missing something else?

5 Responses to The Special Election and Health Care Reform

  1. Keith January 20, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    There’s no rule, and they will try to do that, but it’s not clear that the median voter in the House prefers the Senate bill.

  2. Greg Koger January 20, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Erik, you are correct. The catch (as Keith suggests) is that the House Dems were hoping to change some of the elements of the Senate bill. As political scientists, we sometimes treat bills as points on a line, but in practice the important bills are bundles of proposals. So even if the House Dems can’t get the Senate to accept a public option, they still hoped to change the revenue portion (i.e. taxing “Cadillac” plans), or the Medicaid expansion, etc. So what’s changed after Brown’s win is that the Senate’s proposal may have become a take-it-or-leave it proposal…which isn’t fun if one is on the receiving end.

  3. Erik January 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Greg, yes, this is a structure-induced-equilibrium.

  4. Jonathan Bernstein January 20, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I agree with Greg, but would ad: it’s ain’t fun, but it likely beats the alternatives.

    They’re probably going to play around with the possibility of doing a pass-plus-reconciliation plan, which might or might not be feasible…if not, the House will probably wind up just passing the Senate bill. If they have the votes. Which, if I had to bet, I’d say they do, but it’s not a sure thing.

  5. Matt Jarvis January 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    The objections to voting for the Senate bill fall into 3 categories:
    1) I’m a Republican and want to bring the whole house of cards down. These votes are unobtainable with just about any bill.
    2) I’m a liberal Dem and want a more liberal bill, either for my own desires or I need to vote that way. Well, this type really has a lot more vote flexibility, but even so, the 2nd of those reasons can be assuaged with separate votes on other provisions. For the first of these reasons, half a loaf is better than no loaf, and one would hope rationality would prevail.
    3)I’m a “moderate” Dem and want a more conservative bill, either for policy or political reasons. Again, more votes can deal with the 2nd concern. As for the first, the only argument I can see working is the “like it or not, you have D after your name, and the fate of this bill impacts you because of that”

    All in all, the House SHOULD be able to pass the Senate version and then propose changes ASAP. I think they have the votes to do it, IF they actually use the whip system to convince rather than survey.