Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Very Confusing Political Landscape...

Well, the Senate's Healthcare bill is now the Law of the Land for better or worse..And now Senate Democrats are working on a "Fixer" bill to work out those compromises that made the House vote possible, which will likely last a least a week or so before the Senate votes on it, and since it is a Reconciliation vote they only need 51 which Majority Leader Harry Reid has very easily..

As I said in my previous post, this is hardly the last we'd heard this healthcare debate..13 State Attorney Generals are now suing the Federal Gov't over the new law claiming the "Individual Mandate" is unconstitutional. This claim has been made for some time and whether it is unconstitutional is debatable to most legal scholars and constitutional lawyers..I don't agree with most Democratic strategists that this is simply a stall tactic...Such a challenge I believe is necessary to convince many Americans of how good/bad this law is no matter what the courts say. Regardless, Republicans have made it clear that they will campaign on this Healthcare issue this November but many strategists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that this strategy may blow up in their faces..How?

Since Obama and the Democrats came into office, they have been seen as a seemingly disorganized, weak and unable to rule..But with the passage first of the Jobs bill (the first of several hopefully) and the Healthcare bill the other night have proven the Democrats can indeed rule and have finally achieved something important...Which presents the Republicans with a bit of a problem..Should they choose to make this the main issue this fall, they will have to confront the fact that the first effects of the new Law will take into fact by then and will likely be seen by a majority of Americans as positive..So when the Republicans yell and scream that they will repeal this Healthcare reform, there will be a great deal of Americans who will be upset by such talk...

Because according to various polls including the brand new polls out by the Pew Research Center, show that Americans understand that something must be done about our dysfunctional healthcare system..For example:

When asked how Americans think their health costs would change if the bill was passed they responded:
  • 51% believed their costs would Increase
  • 17% believed their costs would Decrease
  • 22% believed their costs would stay the same
  • 10% Didn't know

When asked how their health costs would change if no bill was passed they responded:

  • 63% believed their costs would Increase
  • 6% believed their costs would Decrease
  • 25% believed their costs would stay the same
  • 6% Didn't know

So when Democrats say that any bill is better than no bill there is some truth to that..But Pew also showed that most Americans also didn't like the bills being worked on by Congress but now that the bill is passed that doesn't matter so much anymore..

But Republicans don't seem to be giving up just yet..Even if the "Fixes" bill passes the Senate they are still going to campaign on repeal this supposed "Takeover of the Healthcare system"...but there are so problems with that idea..Firstly, even IF Republicans were able to gain control of both houses of Congress this fall and repealed the Healthcare Reform law, it would be vetoed by Obama and to be able to overide his veto would required 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress which would require the GOP to gain 110 House seats and 16 Senate seats...Such a landslide this November is incredibly unlikely unless the Democrats make some equally stupid political mood..But Republicans are claiming that this Healthcare battle end the same way at the polls as it did in '93/94..Except there's just one little problem with that theory..Unlike in '93/94, the Democrats actually passed the bill into Law! Therefore doing something Bill Clinton and Democratic Congressmen couldn't do..Whether people like the bill or not, this proves the Democrats can get at least some of their agenda accomplished while all the Republicans have accomplished is vote No and look like sticks in the mud..

But repealing the bill isn't the only tactic Republicans are trying..14 State Attorney Generals (including 1 Democrat) have now sued the Federal Gov't over this new law..Claiming the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Indeed there is definitely some logic behind such a belieft, the Federal gov't has never told its citizens they have to buy something or else pay a fine. But after some thought and research I have discovered there is a major flaw in this claim..But first some Context, the Individual Mandate stipulates that if someone makes enough a year to be able to afford health insurance but chooses not to they will be fined. How will they be fined? The IRS is being put in charge of enforcing this new law, and they will actually add the "fine" to your tax return..Now how does that support the Fed's position? Since the IRS is enforcing this mandate in the way it does, the Fine is actually more of a Tax and therefore is within the Federal Government's realm of authority. However, it is very unprecedented and still a little grey legally but most Legal scholars agree that the Courts will likely uphold the Individual Mandate in the end..

So where does that leave our poor and overpaid Congressman? Democrats have finally accomplished something but have vigorously divided the nation and its very likely that some are going to lose their jobs this November..so they must choose whether they want to parade their victory around or not talk about it..Republicans are in a bit of a pickle..Once the first wave of benefits hits Americans this year their constant chanting of Repeal Repeal is only going to alienate them from Indepedents and low-income Americans, but it will reinforce their support among the Conservative core the GOP and Tea Partiers..but their hopes of Repeal are very unlikely at this point so its a bit of a hallow campaign promise (but aren't they all?)..Not only that some moderate Republicans are also going to have to worry about Tea Party-backed candidates as well as their Democratic counterparts. This all makes for a very complicated and hard to predict Mid-term season..

Ain't American Politics grand?

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