JONATHAN CHAIT MARCH 1, 2010
Important health care reform update from the Associated Press:
Ten House Democrats say they have not ruled out the possibility of switching their earlier "no" votes to "yes" on the big health care overhaul. That's giving Democrats a glimmer of hope in the face of unyielding Republican opposition. The House members commented in interviews Monday with The Associated Press.
The article does not include any names, presumably because the members all spoke with the A.P. on condition of anonymity. But this makes the information a lot more valuable. The public statements you've been reading don't actually tell you a whole lot, because everybody has an incentive to spin. The Democratic leadership has an incentive to say they can get the votes, because if members think the bill is going down, they have an incentive to flee. And moderate to conservative members have an incentive to express skepticism about the bill to preserve their bargaining leverage. Discussions with a neutral third party (the press) conducted anonymously give you the best sense of what might happen.
Of course, this number does not survey the Democrats who voted for the bill the first time but might vote no the second. For the bill to pass, the N to Ys have to outnumber the Y to Ns. But keeping the defectors below ten seems doable -- not easy at all, but doable. I think it can be done if the administration fully commits.
Update: The article has since added more text, and a couple additions are significant: One is that the lawmakers actually did reply on the record, which I find pretty surprising. It suggests more potential willingness to vote yes.
Another addition is that the story now explains, "Several lawmakers' offices did not reply to the AP queries." This means, in other words, that the universe of potential N to Ys is larger than 10 -- then 10 who said they could potentially switch, plus another several who won't say. That's pretty encouraging.