Nancy Pelosi is insisting she has the votes in the House to move the health care legislation to the Senate.
By all accounts though she does not appear to. There is virtually unanimous opposition from Republicans, I have yet to see a GOP House member say they will vote for the legislation.
Further, the Speaker has significant opposition from within her own party. The Blue Dog coalition, a group of over 50 moderate Democrats, are signalling that they are not on board yet and may not get on board at all.
The latest count I heard is that if all Republicans vote against the bill, 39 blue dog Dems would have to vote for the legislation to pass. Right now this seems unlikely.
To make passage seem less likely, House and committee leadership has spent the past week attempting to strong arm the moderate Dems.
The DNC has even ran commercials against them to get them to change their votes.
All of this has not endeared these moderate Dems to the House leadership and pushed them to change their votes.
Finally, a lot of these moderate Dems are in congressional seats that are either roughly evenly divided politically or even slightly right leaning which makes them precarious for re-election. This is significant in that the health care reform being proposed right now is quickly losing support among the public.
All of this adds up to a less than likely chance that 39 of the members will switch their votes and help the legislation pass.
So the question is, what is Pelosi up to?
Is she dumb enough to think she has the votes? I genuinely don't think so.
Does she know something that is not public? That is always possible, we don't know everything that goes on in the House. Reality is though that congressional members historically have been ones to run off at the mouth. More often than not, what you see is what you get. If it does not appear there are votes for passage, it is a good chance there is not.
Not surprisingly I have an opinion.
I think she is playing a dangerous game of chicken, although in her case it would be buzzard (just joking).
I believe she does not have the votes but in declaring she does she puts pressure on the blue dogs to vote for it. If they do not vote for it, they will take the fall from fellow Dems for it's failure.
There are two problems with this.
Doing damage to your own party members among Democratic voters a year from the election does not appear to be sound policy. Especially when the members are in districts in which every Democratic vote counts.
Also, this carries a high risk of developing possibly long lasting bad will.
Even if she were to bring them around on this legislation, which is not even remotely certain, she has to work with them later.
There will be more legislation that has it's risks for the moderate Dems, cap and trade, possibly future stimulus plans, budget fights, abortion, etc.
Finally, even if the Democrats keep the House in 2010, they are likely to lose seats. This is a strong possibility not only because the current political climate does not overwhelmingly favor them but also because historically a President loses seats in their first Congressional election.
Pelosi may find herself needing every Democratic vote she can get to retain the Speakership. She does not have unending support from her party members and has plenty of people behind her willing to take her place.
One truism in politics is that none of your colleagues are truly your friend. While some may be friends socially and even do almost anything for you politically, they are all political animals and ambitious.
Nancy Pelosi may be betting everything for a win now and later find herself with no chits to call in when she needs them.