Jonathan Chait

Health Care Pollyanna Update

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MSNBC's First Read reports, "We’re told that the White House and House Dem leaders are fewer than five votes away from 216." I have always thought that the key is to get within four or five votes. Once you're there, you're very likely to win. Why? Because then the White House and Democratic leaders can concentrate all their attention on a few holdouts. And they can make an irresistible argument: If you don't vote for this bill, you will be responsible for the political and moral disaster that ensues. I just don't think anybody is willing to be the person who kills health care reform. They may hold back, they may want to see if the bill is going to die anyway, and they may want somebody else to go first. But when the finish line is in sight, they won't say no.

Now, to be sure, you still have the problem of which member has to jump first. No doubt there are several who do not want the bill to be defeated but would prefer to vote no. They might be playing chicken with their colleagues. But having more potential votes than you need is not a bad problem to have.

Peeling back a little bit, things have gone well the last few weeks. Public opinion has trended in a favorable direction. President Obama has engaged. The CBO score looks good. Democrats seem to understand that they're all sunk if the bill fails.

I think this is going to happen unless something goes wrong. Of course, something could go wrong. Anyway, having held steady at around 60% for a couple months, I'm now up to 75%.

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