Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Predictions on the Louisiana Congressional Delegation and the Health Care Bill

I could be very wrong in these predictions, but I figure I ought to lay them out anyway. As it stands now (and this is subject to change as the bills themselves change), this is where I see the Louisiana Delegation voting on the Health Care bills currently working their way through the federal Congress.

Anh "Joseph" Cao, who is a Republican representing the heavily Democratic Louisiana 2nd Congressional District, is likely to support the bill. He may be the only Republican to do so. I say this because I think the compromise on the abortion question, which has been Cao's sticking point, should give him enough cover to assuage his honest moral concerns over the issue. And I think he knows that, unless he switches parties, which is more and more unlikely between now and next November, a "No" vote on the health care reform bill will doom his re-election prospects. Conversely, a "Yes" vote on an issue that is very important to the constituents of his district, is likely the best avenue for Cao to improve his chances for retaining the seat as a Republican. So much depends on whether Cao wants to have another term; and I think he does. So, therefore, I think he votes for the bill.

Charlie Melancon, who is a conservative Blue Dog Democrat, ironically, I think will go against his Party and vote "No" on the bill. There are enough Democratic seats in the Federal House of Representatives that a handful of Blue Dog Democrat defections is not likely to alter the final vote tally in support of the bill. Also Melancon is challenging David Vitter for a Senate seat, so he needs the cover of a "No" vote to have an important wedge issue he can use to buffet his credentials against Vitter in a state where a majority of the population opposes the Democratic Health Care bills. I happen to think Melancon supports the health care reform bills, and will be content to see the reform become a reality, even though he'll vote against it. It's pure political expediency, which is not all that admirable; but if Melancon hopes to defeat Vitter, and I want Melancon to defeat Vitter, then this vote is a necessary compromise. But I will also say that if it comes down to Melancon's vote as the deciding vote on passage (thought I think the odds of this happening are very long ones), I think Melancon will opt to vote for the bill and sacrifice his chance at the Senate in order to pass this important piece of legislation.

Mary Landrieu, Louisiana's recently re-elected Democratic Senator, will end up voting to approve the measure. This is perhaps the most important vote in the Louisiana Delegation, because it's crucial to end a likely Republican-led filibuster. And even though Landrieu has expressed reluctance about the public option being included in the bill, she's giving indications that recent tinkering with the bill is addressing her concerns. In effect, she, too, is building cover for her "Yes" vote in an electorate that tilts against a "Yes" vote. But the clincher is that Landrieu is not up for re-election for another five years, and by that time, anything she does now she can either effectively backtrack from or embrace then, depending on how the reform proceeds in its implementation and what the preliminary effects of the reform turn out to be. Given all this, I think Landrieu is a solid "Yes" vote.

The rest of the Louisiana Delegation, all disciplined, party-line, anti-Obama Republicans will vote "No."

So the final tally will be two "Yes" votes (one from the Republican Rep. Cao, and one from the Democrat Sen. Landrieu); and 7 "No" votes (one from the Democrat Rep. Melancon, one from the Republican Sen. Vitter, and five from all the remaining Republican Reps. in the delegation.)


andrew said...

I'm pretty sure even the Democratic party leadership will agree that its more important to maintain the seat that Sen. Melancon is in possession of at this time. This is at the end of the day, a numbers game.

I'm just hoping we don't need to reform our health care reform. Our aging boomer population along with lower enrollment rates in institutions of higher learning make this bill a dangerous gamble in the long run.

It wouldn't surprise me if this doesn't pass this year. If it doesn't, it'll be re-worked and attempted again. Once the Palinytes are finally given the door, die from a mixture of old age and PBR, or end up with brown in-laws, the whole legislative process will be a lot smoother.

Eric said...

"Our aging boomer population along with lower enrollment rates in institutions of higher learning make this bill a dangerous gamble in the long run."

Andrew, I've said it many times, but to me the population demographics of America are THE biggest issue when it comes to healthcare, especially as it relates to our government health and retirement entitlements. And it rarely gets talked about, except in passing. I'm not sure what can be done about it, but one thing is for sure: the law of supply and demand tells me that there is no way to make healthcare cheaper without a unprecedentedly massive influx of doctors, surgeons, and other health practitioners into the system over the next few decades.

andrew said...

You may appreciate this then:

Why is it that when the two groups that have the most to gain lobby for a cause its a good thing, but when the group that could be potentially destroyed, causing another bailout or just taking thousands of jobs with them, its "evil lobbying"?

The most blatantly spun lobbyist effort ever.

andrew said...

Eric: I'd like to add that I see we're very much so on the same page about this.

This reform is too much too soon.

A public option would be good right now. Everything else should wait till after that has finished shaking the insurance industry.

The last thing the administration needs to do is recklessly put hard working Americans out of a job.

I oppose this sweeping change because of the jobs endangered by it, and the fact that there has not been enough discourse between all parties involved for this to be beneficial all around.

Any thoughts on why they want to make insurance mandatory?

I'm thinking its to try to prop up the insurers who are going to have their actuarial tables thrown out the window by this reform.

Eric said...

Andy, while I oppose a public option, I do agree that reform would be better implemented piecemeal, with each individual initiative getting an up or down vote. The trend towards "comprehensive" approaches to nearly all modern political reform legislation is one of the reasons why these things get so incredibly politicized, and often leads to watered down and innefective results.

"Any thoughts on why they want to make insurance mandatory?"

I think you hit the nail on the head. They can't just mandate that insurance companies accept all pre-existing conditions and then walk away. The result would be catastrophic increases in individual premiums. I'd go a bit farther and say this is also a more subtle form of the neo-corporatism we have seen creeping into our economy over the last year, where the government offers suffering private industries a lifeline in exchange for a seat at the Big Table... except this time the government is actually creating the conditions that make the lifeline necessary.

I also think they included a mandated insurance component because, prior to Obama's (and Hillary's) endorsement of the concept in the primaries, many Republicans supported Mitt Romney, who had the same idea.