Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Odds on Health Care Reform

I've been keeping an eye on the political prediction markets at Intrade. The odds of the health care bill passing, according to Intrade, have climbed dramatically over the last couple of weeks. March 4th was the first day the odds were above 50%, and since then the trend line has been up, up, up to where we are as of this writing: 82%.

It's interesting that Intrade was predicting the bill's passage as a sure bet before political pundits were. In my unscientific sampling, it seemed like yesterday was the first day that the media was really treating passage as more likely than not. For instance, the New York Times ran an article looking at which conservative-district Democrats will be "allowed" to vote "no" once the House leadership gets its magic number of 216 votes. Today, a Reuters article quotes an anonymous business lobbyist working against the bill who now believes it will pass.

All this is not to say that the votes are there yet. The best whip count I've seen suggests we need two more representatives who voted "no" on the first House bill to flip to "yes" on this vote.

But when the vote comes Sunday afternoon, I predict that the bill will pass with at least a few votes to spare. I think Pelosi will get a few more "no to yes" votes in the next day-and-a-half and some representatives in the anti-abortion "Stupak block" will end up voting yes too. Then its over to the Senate, where passing the sidecar fix bill should be easy. Then finally to the president's desk for what no one saw coming: Obama vetoes the bill! Just kidding. He'll sign it into law, and everyone and their brother will try to crowd into the picture behind him.

This has been a long and plodding march. But this is what progress looks like. It's never as swift and decisive as you hope. But gains like this health care bill, once they're won, are very hard for the right-wing to reverse. See Social Security, Civil Rights, the direct election of Senators, women's suffrage, labor law, and Medicare for examples. If history is any indication, this bill will permanently shift the country in a more progressive direction and move "the center" to the left. If Obama were defeated in 2012 (though I doubt he will be), and this health care bill ended up being the only major, lasting accomplishment of his administration, in my grade book Obama would still get a B. Health care itself--specifically, extending coverage to 32 million people--is that big.

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I don't know. I'm still not sure...but I hope you're right!! Then we can all move on to a firefight on financial reform...

Becky said...

Is there anything to watch on cspan or is this all happening behind closed doors?

Camp Papa said...

And, just this afternoon, the reports are saying that there will be straight-up votes, first on the "fix" and then on the bill, rather that the "deem and pass" measure. I'm still crossing my fingers.

Dave said...

Hey Becky, the votes will definitely be on C-SPAN and probably CNN and MSNBC too. I think voting starts around 3pm eastern tomorrow, and there will be three votes: a rules vote, the "fix bill", then the main bill that the Senate already passed.