The Democrats need Snowe’s vote desperately, to convince wavering moderate Democrats that they can offer a veneer, however thin, of bipartisanship to the health proposal. If Snowe, their last chance at a Republican vote, opposes the Obama/Baucus proposal, there is no hope of a bipartisan fig leaf for the package.
Lincoln’s vote becomes critical if Snowe votes no. Lincoln is probably the single most vulnerable Democrat running for reelection in 2010. She is the proverbial canary in the coalmine. If she makes it, so will all the Democrats. Hailing from a conservative Southern state, her poll numbers suggest that she would be in a heap of trouble with a stiff challenger.
If Lincoln defects and joins the Republicans in voting no (as she has done on a number of amendments), she will do a lot to cement her chances to remain a senator, but will open a wound in the Democratic Party. A domino effect will likely set in.
Her Arkansas colleague, Democrat Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE, will feel exposed by her defection and will probably consider voting no as well. It will be very hard for the son of moderate David Pryor to explain why Lincoln jumped ship but he chose to stay on board.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska, encouraged by Lincoln’s vote, will probably vote no as well. These negative votes will bring huge pressure on Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE, the Louisiana Democrat. Nor can the president count on the support of Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut, who has warned that, despite his basic support for the concept of the bill, it would be hard for him to back it given the current economic and fiscal crisis.
Once Obama’s plan fails to attract 60 votes, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidRepublican failure Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral Top GOP senator: 'Tragic mistake' if Democrats try to block Gorsuch MORE (D-Nev.) will fall back on reconciliation as a strategy and hope for 50 votes. But if the Democrats pass the bill with 50 votes, it will set a precedent they may come to rue. It would basically eliminate the filibuster as a parliamentary tactic and would condemn any future minority party (Democrats in 2011?) to the same irrelevance as afflicts their House colleagues. To be in the minority in a chamber run by a bare majority is not a fun task.
However, if Lincoln votes yes, it will send a signal to all moderates that even the most endangered of their species is willing to risk backing the program and will do a great deal to shore up the president’s defenses.
All this means that if the elderly citizens of Arkansas and Maine — and their families — want to avoid the evisceration of the Medicare program contemplated in the Baucus/Obama bill, they had better get busy. They need to deluge both senators with urgent pleas to vote against the $500 billion cut in the Medicare program. Neither senator can afford to alienate her elderly constituents, but what do they expect when they vote to take the hatchet to Medicare?
Newt Gingrich found out that cutting Medicare is a ticket to political oblivion. Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOvernight Tech: FCC chief gives states more control over internet subsidies | Dems urge Trump to veto bill blocking online privacy rules | House boosts its mobile security Overnight Defense: Pentagon considers more troops for Afghanistan | McCain, Graham won't back short-term funding | GOP defends Trump rules of engagement Paul Ryan sells out conservatives with healthcare surrender MORE will learn the same lesson. The question is: Will Olympia Snowe and Blanche Lincoln join him?
Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill ClintonBill ClintonChelsea Clinton dismisses rumors she'll run for public office: report Trump seeks to stop lawsuit from ‘Apprentice’ contestant Trump asks why Clintons' ties to Russia aren't under investigation MORE, is the author of Outrage and Fleeced. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by e-mail or to order a signed copy of their new best-selling book, Catastrophe, go to dickmorris.com. In August, Morris became a strategist for the League of American Voters, which is running ads opposing the president’s healthcare reforms.