Here's how I see the battle shaping up:
- The bill now goes to the Senate. Harry Reid now has a choice: take this crap sandwich as it is, or insist that the Senate bill go forward. Reid knows that if he tries to get the House bill voted on as is in the Senate, he's in for trouble. Tom Coburn, the physician who represents Oklahoma in Senate, has already pledged to have the entire bill read aloud on the floor of the Senate. That would be a problem for two reasons: one, it's highly dilatory and will slow the Senate to a crawl, essentially forcing any vote well into 2010. More importantly, if people really understand the entirety of what's in this bill, public opinion will swing even harder against it. Reid knows this and doesn't want to chance it. Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman has already promised that he will filibuster any bill with a public option. The House bill has one.
- So what does Reid do? Most likely, it means that Reid will have to put the Senate version of the Obama Care crap sandwich in play. That means there will be a conference committee and that the final bill that comes out of that process will have to be voted up or down by both chambers. They won't be able to get that done this year, no matter what Obama says, but it's probably the only way Reid will have a chance to hold up his end of the deal.
- Despite yesterday's vote, time remains on the side of the opposition. The more people learn about the monstrosities contained in this bill, the more it will become clear to people that this reform will actually make things worse. That was the reason why the Democrats wanted to do this cram-down style. Their gamble is that if the law was passed early enough, and the implications of it were pushed out far enough into the future (many of the provisions wouldn't take effect until 2013 or later), people might forget about the bill in the two election cycles. That's unlikely now.
- Meanwhile, the vote was very close. Even so, there were a few potentially vulnerable Democrats who voted for the bill this time. All it would take is to flip 3 of them and the thing would go down in flames when it matters. Looking at the votes, I can think of 3 people in the region who would have reason to flip their votes: closest to home, consider Tim Walz, who represents the 1st. His district has long been a swing district and when the DFL has controlled it, it has usually required someone like Tim Penny to hold the district. Walz is considerably to the left of Penny, who ultimately left the DFL. Walz can expect to get some heat for this vote. Next, I'd suggest another vulnerable vote would be Steve Kagen, the irascible dermatologist who represents my hometown district, WI-8. The 8th is generally quite conservative; over the past 50 years, the Democrats have held the seat only about 10 of those years. Kagen, who won an open seat in the bad Republican year of 2006, is in his second term and would be vulnerable in any event but this vote is going to hurt him. As for the 3rd potential vote, I'd suggest that Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota had better watch his back. And I'm sure there are others.
Bottom line: this isn't over. Not by a long shot.