Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Health Care Bill: Some Tactical Thoughts

Suppose that, sometime this evening or tomorrow morning, Nancy Pelosi concludes that she is not going to have the 216 votes she needs to get the Senate health care bill through the House. Considered from a purely tactical standpoint, what should she do?

The obvious policy is to have a vote and lose it. But there is a problem. The reason she is having a hard time rounding up votes is that many representatives believe a vote for the bill will substantially reduce their chances of reelection this fall. Presumably the leadership either disagrees or considers it a price worth paying to get the bill passed.

If the bill ends up with 212 votes, they will have paid the price and gotten nothing for it. That suggests that, if the bill is not going to pass, it is better for the Democrats not to vote on it. Not being myself an expert on the rules and customs of the House, I have no clear idea of how easy that would be to arrange at the last minute. But it is still an intriguing possibility.

Which suggests a prediction. Either the bill will pass, or it will fail by only one or two votes--too few for the result to be predicted with confidence. Or it will, somehow, not get voted on.

Which is why I decided to put this post up now. Predicting things before they happen is more interesting than explaining them afterwards.


Richard P. said...

Haven't House members already incurred the cost by having passed their own version?

I imagine the marginal cost of voting for a Senate version is only a small increase in that calculus.

Anonymous said...

The House and Senate want two different bills. One of the problems in the House is that they don't want what is in the Senate's bill. The House has created something they are calling reconciliation and will vote on that and assume the Senate's bill to be passed.

What the House members realize is that if they vote yes, the Senate's bill will go to Obama to be signed and the Senate will drop the reconciliation.

I think the House members that vote yes will face a larger increase risk of losing in Novembers elections.

The Senate's bill put strong pressure on companies and people to drop the health insurance with no government program to kick in for 4 to 6 years.

Nicolas Martin said...

It will pass. The Dems will get clobbered in the next election. The Republicans will then discover that they like the bill's provisions, except that they don't go far enough, so they will expand costs and coverages. Medicare redux.

Anonymous said...

David , I have some unrealated question. What do you think abour Chile reforms of your Father under Augusto Pinochet ? Because i heard it wasnt so good as some people say (for example unemployment rate)

Daniel [] said...

I dunno. Didn't your Dad think that prediction and explanation were pretty much the same thing? ;-)

David Friedman said...

My father did not think that prediction and explanation were the same thing. Nor do I.

I have no expertise on Chile, but my impression is that its economy did a good deal better under Pinochet and thereafter than it had been doing before that, and did relatively well compared to other South American countries.

Daniel [] said...

Just teasing, David! (I was awake when I read “The Methodology of Positive Economics”; noticed the judicious use of quotation marks around some instances of “explain”, and didn't make the all-too-common inference that if he called non-normative economist “positive” then he must be a positivist.)