A new Washington Post poll taken in Massachusetts after Tuesday’s election blows apart the Left’s claims that the election was not about health reform.
The poll, conducted by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University's School of Public Health, found that health care topped jobs and the economy as the most important issue driving voters’ decisions.
Democratic leaders had tried to spin Scott Brown’s historic victory by saying the election wasn’t about health care, claiming it wasn’t an issue because Massachusetts already has implemented reform.
But the new poll shows a whopping 89 percent said health care was extremely important (56 percent) or very important (33 percent) in deciding who to vote for. Among Brown's supporters, eight in ten said they were opposed to Washington’s overhaul plan, with 66 percent of them strongly opposed.
Overall, more voters felt they and their families would be worse off if Obamacare were to be enacted.
It can therefore be concluded that health care was the deciding issue in the Massachusetts Senate election. And Scott Brown’s position opposing to the health-overhaul legislation that has consumed Congress for the last year put him over the top.
But, amazingly, Democratic leaders are not giving up in trying to get their health-overhaul legislation passed, despite various pronouncements over the last several days that health reform is dead, that Congress needs to take a break, or that it needs to scale back.
President Obama said during a speech in Ohio on Friday he would continue to press for reform: "I am not going to walk away just because it’s hard," he said. Top White House advisers David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, and Robert Gibbs all said over the weekend that passing health-reform legislation remains a top priority of the administration.
So what is the strategy? It’s a scenario that should send chills up anyone’s spine. The president reportedly spent the weekend working the phones urging House members who voted "Yes" on the House bill to stick with their vote to get the Senate bill passed, promising that it will be fixed to address their concerns in the reconciliation process that only needs 51 votes in the Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday "we will move forward" as she tried to convince colleagues to swallow the despised and pork-laden Senate bill. While she concluded she doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate bill through the House "at this time," the bill will remain alive all year long. The vote counting will continue as Pelosi tries to get to 218.
She will try to wear down members to get to a vote. Democrats will go down a number of dead-end roads to try to get a reform bill done and will conclude, probably sometime this summer, that the only hope is for the House to swallow hard and vote for the Senate bill.
Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already have begun considering what changes must be made and how make them without needing 60 votes in to Senate so they can a vote for the Senate bill palatable to House members.
If enough Democrats who had voted "No" on the House bill in November either retire or otherwise switch to "Yes," they could make up for those who say they never would vote for the Senate bill. If she gets to 218, the vote could happen with 24 hours’ notice, and the final bill could be on the president's desk for his signature the next day. No Senate action required.
It is impossible to calculate the anger among voters if that were to happen. But if enough elected "representatives" were to decide that passing health reform is more important than their political futures, it still could happen. While she concluded she doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate bill through the House "at this time," the bill will remain alive all year long.
This debate will not be over until the final gavel falls and Congress adjourns for the year.
Published in National Review Online: Critical Condition, Jan. 25, 2010.