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Slide in Democrats’ Health Care Numbers Might Not Mean What They Think It Means

I was curious about the way that a "Democratic aide" is interpreting the slipping poll numbers for Democrats vs. Republicans in 2010. Greg Sargent:

It’s hard not to see these numbers as a direct outgrowth of the health care debate and the current impasse. Either way, Democratic aides acknowledge that failing on health care would trigger a revolt from the Dem base, perhaps depressing fundraising, and cement the view among independents that Dem rule has been ineffective.

“Looking at the lessons of 94, failure is not an option,” one aide emails. “Failure to get a bill passed is far worse for Democrats in 2010 at the polls.”

Interestingly, this has created a built-in tension: While Senate Dems have more control over whether health care succeeds, the stakes are higher for House Dems. It’s a tougher cycle for the House, aides say, meaning they’d likely face bigger losses if Senate Dems can’t resolve their impasse with Republicans or if they don’t opt for reconciliation to get reform done.

Either way, if they look hard enough, liberals can locate something of a silver lining in all the bad news: It ups the pressure on Congressional Dems not just to do health care this year, but do it right.

I think Greg is saying something different from the Democratic aide. Greg is saying that the Senate conservadems create a bad situation for the more vulnerable Democratic House members if they force some shitty bailout of the insurance industry on them. The aide is spouting the conventional party wisdom that the White House is pushing: it’s a "win" if they just "pass something," and the party will suffer heavy losses if they don’t.

So, the White House is telling progressive Democrats in the House that they will take down the party and tank the 2010 election if they don’t sign on to something the Senate can stomach. I’m with Greg: that is a recipe for disaster, and the House Democrats are the ones who will pay the price.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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