Good Riddance to “Deem and Pass”

Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership are abandoning the "deem and pass" route on health insurance reform and will hold separate votes on the Senate's insurance bill and the House's reconciliation fixes, The Hill reports. This is a good thing, for at least three reasons that I can see.

First and perhaps most importantly, deem and pass would have ticked off an already angry public. The current Real Clear Politics average on health care polling is 40.4% in favor and 49.1% against. And yet as we all know, polls on the ideas contained within the bill that don't actually mention the bill show support for such measures. The reason, the CW goes and I think, that so many people oppose they would like if they studied it isn’t about policy but about politics. Voters are ticked at the process – the fact that Republicans frequently used both budget reconciliation and "deem and pass" when in power bedamned. According to a poorly worded and biased question in a recent Fox "News" poll, "about a third of voters (31 percent) think House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are 'playing by the rules' to get health care through, while 53 percent think they are 'changing the rules.'" That clearly isn’t true, but perception matters, and using "deem and pass" could have caused irreparable harm to Democratic perception.

Why are voters all of a sudden so angry about age-old procedural measures? Because they didn't know about them before. We live in a new and different media age with unprecedented access to political minutia - but that's another issue entirely.

Second, and this should be fairly obvious: If a bill, even one I desperately support that would help the nation for decades to come, doesn’t have the votes to pass, then it should not pass. That wouldn’t just be undemocratic, it would be anti-democratic. Voters know this, and thankfully the House leadership listened. Besides, deem and pass probably would have HARMED the bill’s chances of passing. Vegas oddsmakers give the reforms a 70% chance of passing on their own, but several Members, including Reps. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA), said they couldn’t go along with the procedural gimmick on a bill they otherwise support – and if I were in Congress, I’d likely side with them myself. So ditching deem and pass helps both democracy AND the bill.

Finally, a controversial, high profile bill made law through “deem and pass” would be subject to legal concerns. They might not be well-founded and could well lose every single Court challenge, but that’s no guarantee. Holding a regular vote, if nothing else, will help the bill avoid such challenges and go into effect earlier.

So hello health insurance and good riddance deem and pass.

Tags: health care reform, Dennis Cardoza, Stephen Lynch, deem and pass (all tags)




Just another in a long list of self-defeating means to lower their approval even lower, and at the current trend in an week or few, to even lower than even the Republican Congress managed.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-03-20 04:38PM | 0 recs
I doubt lasting damage would have been done

by using "deem and pass," but it's just as well not to use it. They probably shouldn't have even brought it up.

The problem with health care reform isn't related to Congressional procedures, it's that the bill isn't very good. Measures that would have been extremely popular have been left out to appease corporate interests, and advocates are massively over-promising what the bill will deliver to Americans.

This would be an extremely easy sell if we could say to Americans, "We are saving money by letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. We are giving you a public option to compete with the private company that has a monopoly in your area. We are going to stop price-gouging by allowing re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada." And so on.

by desmoinesdem 2010-03-20 04:46PM | 2 recs
RE: I doubt lasting damage would have been done

"We are saving money by letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices."

aka: They're allowing government bureaucrats to ration what drugs your grandma can get.

"We are giving you a public option to compete with the private company."

aka: They're planning a government take-over of health-care. Communism!

"We are going to stop price-gouging by allowing re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada"

aka: They're going to drive American pharmaceuticals out of business. How will we afford Viagra and Cialis then?

There is a right-wing attack set-up against everything. This stuff may be popular, but they're not exactly uncontentious.

by vecky 2010-03-20 06:27PM | 1 recs
RE: I doubt lasting damage would have been done

if you are trying to say that the GOP would lie about whatever the Dems try to do, then I think we all know that's true.

All the more reason to actually do good thing where our own arguments would be stronger and easier to get out there.

by jeopardy 2010-03-20 08:30PM | 1 recs
as for Lynch

I thought I read his problem was with the excise tax, but maybe I am confusing him with someone else.

by desmoinesdem 2010-03-20 04:47PM | 0 recs
RE: as for Lynch

He was mentioned in The Hill article as opposing deem & pass. It may not be his only issue, though.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-03-20 04:48PM | 0 recs
RE: as for Lynch

Lynch, a once ultra conservative "democrat", was visited by the ghost of Ted Kennedy and had a Damascus moment.  Now, he has become an ultra liberal Jane Hamshire out of nowhere.

God bless us... every one!!

Yeah, right... whatever... something strange is afoot...

He needs to be visited by the ghost of healthcare passed.

by LordMike 2010-03-20 05:18PM | 0 recs
RE: as for Lynch

Lynch is playing everyone for fools. His real beef is Stupak or something else, his policy positions have no merit.

by vecky 2010-03-20 06:29PM | 0 recs
RE: Good Riddance to “Deem and Pass”

Deem and pass was not the problem. A good politician could have framed it as "I refused to vote for the bill until I had a package before me that corrected all that dealmaking from the Senate." The problem is we have a flatfooted party that waits on EVERYTHING--every single issue--for the other side to define (or lie about, or both), then lets an entire propanganda campaign rage for weeks before trying to put out its own point of view. Even if we win this battle--still uncertain--I can't see that the leadership has learned anything about communicating with the public. We have some great issues ahead of us. One if college loan reform. Why let the hated banks make a huge profit for doing little and risking nothing? Leave it to our Democratic leadership. By the time the people hear about the issue, the Democrats will be trying to allow Satan into colleges and have death panels for ordinary folks working at banks. We suck at messaging.

by anoregonreader 2010-03-20 07:47PM | 1 recs
RE: Good Riddance to “Deem and Pass”

D.C. Democratic Leadership sucks at messaging.



Fixed it for you.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2010-03-21 12:00AM | 0 recs
good move

Passing this though deem and pass would be seen by the public as trickery and deception. Regardless what oen may think, the voting public is pissed and if they think that the party in control is using some type of questionable maneuver to pass this bill, it will end up in disaster.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-03-20 09:50PM | 0 recs
call them on it

Were it passed by deem and pass, the appropriate response to claims of using legislative techniques would be to point out Republicans threats of a filibuster to force a super majority to pass the bill.  Filibustering is no less trickery and deception than using any other legislative rule (though it may be a more familiar tactic) and the Dems should call them on it.  I agree with anoregonreader's sentiments.

by Mr DC 2010-03-20 10:02PM | 1 recs


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