As expected, it appears that Tuesday’s elections are clarifying the political thinking for some Member of Congress. Specifically, the losses of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in VA and NJ are blamed on independent voters shifting from the Democratic column – where they predominantly voted last year – to the Republican column this year. While some appear surprised by this movement, it seems very natural – after all, that’s why they’re called “independents.”
The implications of this shift for health reform legislation are that Democratic Members of Congress from more moderate districts – where they depend on more independent voters to get reelected – are probably feeling increasingly nervous about the contentious issues in health reform. Conversely, Democratic Members from more liberal districts – where they depend upon their base of Democrats to turn out for the election – are feeling more convinced about the necessity of passing health reform legislation which will appeal to their Democratic base.
With the Democratic leadership in the House apparently looking to pass a bill this Saturday, it will be interesting to see how the increasing political pressures in different parts of the Democratic caucus are reconciled to find 218 votes for passage. Having a Saturday vote is also a somewhat high-risk strategy because its passage or failure will provide immediate fodder for the Sunday morning news/political talk shows and newspapers. In addition, since Senate majority leader Reid recently indicated that the Senate may not vote on health reform legislation until next year, a quick vote by the House also raises the question of whether their passing a bill will put pressure on the Senate to act – sooner or later – or if it will put politically vulnerable Democratic Representatives out on a limb that they may not be able to carve into a paddle for next year’s elections? As the lyrics say:
- Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
- Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here