March 18, 2010


Misaligned Incentives: What’s good for Democratic House leaders is bad for members. (Michael Barone, 3/18/10, National Review)

Nationally, Pres. Barack Obama won 53 percent to 46 percent, but the average of recent polls shows disapproval of health care at 49 percent to 41 percent. Health care 2010 is polling 12 points behind Obama 2008.

To get an idea of what that means district by district, subtract 12 points from Obama’s percentage in each one. When you do that, you find that there are only 115 Democratic members in seats where the putative support for the health-care legislation is 50 percent or higher — 101 votes short of the 216 votes needed for a majority in a House with vacancies in four Democratic seats. [...]

Pushing health-care legislation poses no threat to members of the leadership, all of whom represent such districts. And they tend to believe that passing a bill would be good for the nation.

More important, they believe that failure to pass it would be disastrous for their leadership positions. The aura of inevitability they have created by rallying majorities on one tough vote after another since January 2007 would disappear. Their political capital would go the way of the financial capital of Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers.

But the political incentives for the 138 Democratic members who represent districts where the health-care bills are unpopular are entirely different.

...the post-Opocalypse™ Obama could have a SS privatization bill land on his desk. He could out-Clinton Bill Clinton and out-Blair Tony Blair.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 18, 2010 10:39 AM
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