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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

House and Senate Health Reform Bills: They Don’t Exist Outside Washington

As uncertainty continues to shroud action, or inaction, in health care reform in Congress, Matt Yglesias makes a really important point today about perceptions of this legislation outside the beltway:

To try to put something I’ve said before in another way, folks working on the Hill need to try to step for a moment outside their little circle of Hilliness. Those of us who follow this stuff professional are aware that there is not and has never been a bill called “the Obama health care plan” nor is there any such thing as “Obamacare.” There are, rather, separate pieces of legislation. A House bill, a Senate bill, a Senate Finance Committee draft. And to professionals, there are important differences between these bills. House members voted for the House bill, but the Senate bill is something else entirely. Senate members voted for the Senate bill, but some amendments to make the tax provisions less-unfavorable to union members would be a whole separate bill. I understand all that. I write blog posts about it all the time.
But no normal people care about that even a little. The public has views on the “Obama health care plan.” And 59 out of 59 Democratic incumbent Senators voted for the Obama health care plan. And 218 Democratic House incumbents voted for the Obama health care plan.

Whatever is ultimately enacted, or defeated, is, to most Americans, the “Obama health care plan.” The votes are already in, the Republican target lists and attack ads are already–well, if not in the can, then pretty clear. Unless Democrats really think whatever bill they can pass will be bad for the country, they might as well get it done.

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