Good for Obama, bad for congressional Democrats

Posted on March 01, 2010

Death panels are back. No, they are not part of the health-care legislation President Obama is proposing. But if Democratic leaders try to ram through an unpopular health-care bill along strict party lines, as they seem poised to do, they could condemn many congressional careers -- and quite possibly their majority -- in this year's midterm elections. That would be bad for Democrats in Congress -- but good for President Obama.

The legislation Obama is pursuing faces deep-seated public opposition. A CNN poll last week found that only 25 percent of Americans want Congress to pass a health-care bill similar to the one it has been working on for the past year, while 73 percent say Congress should either start from scratch or not pass health-care legislation at all (other polls show support for the bill in the low 40s). A Gallup poll last week found that 52 percent of Americans oppose using "reconciliation" to overcome Republican opposition and push the bill through with Democratic votes.

Bottom line: Americans don't trust this Congress on health care, they don't like the Democrats' bill, and don't agree with the partisan legislative strategy the Democrats are pursuing.

Yet in the face of this message from the heartland, congressional Democrats keep pushing their bill. It's as if they see the writing on the wall and realize that they have just a few months left to enact their radical agenda before voters throw them out. They may be right. In a recent interview with National Journal, political analyst Charlie Cook said that the health-care bill "is one of the biggest miscalculations that we've seen in modern political history" and "as it became more clear that they had screwed up, [Democrats] just kept doubling down their bet." He concludes: "it's very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House."

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