I once thought Megan McArdle was smart

These days? Not so much.

She muses about the pending passage of the health care reform bill in the Senate:
So there's now about a 90% chance that the health care bill will pass.At this point, the thing is more than a little inexplicable.

Democrats are on a political suicide mission; I'm not a particularly accurate prognosticator, but I think this makes it very likely that in 2010 they will lost several seats in the Senate--enough to make it damn hard to pass any more of their signature legislation--and will lose the house outright. In the case of the House, you can attribute it to the fact that the leadership has safe seats.

But three out of four of the Democrats on the podium today are in serious danger of losing their seats.No bill this large has ever before passed on a straight party-line vote, or even anything close to a straight party-line vote. No bill this unpopular has ever before passed on a straight party-line vote. We're in a new political world. I'm not sure I understand it.

Let's start with her prognostications, which I think are best described as "cracked out." I think some losses in the Senate are likely. (Blanche Lincoln should probably update her CV, just in case.) But the GOP taking the House outright? They're going to flip 41 seats*? On a platform of lock-step opposition to the central domestic policy piece on which the Democrats campaigned the last time around? I would change "not a particularly accurate" to "an absolutely terrible" in that second paragraph up there.

And that new political world? That she doesn't understand it is patently obvious, despite its being pretty straight-forward. (And the fact that reform is passing on a party-line vote is absolutely zero indication of the merits of the legislation.) I will defer to the Ordinary Gents to offer further explanation:
I don’t always (often?) agree with Paul Krugman, but his column today hits thehammer on the head. Instead of progressives railing against Obama and his failure to get the public option in the Health Care Bill, the outrage should be focused on the institutional failure of the Senate. As League contributors often reminds its readers, there are three parties in America: Democrats, Centrists (some with Rs after their names, some with Ds), and Republicans. If The Democrats want to actually govern, given the Senate’s screwed-up rule system and the total “nein: position of the Republicans, then the Centrists are holding way too much power. But unless you want nothing passed, the Centrists have to be placated. This leaves us with seriously damaged legislation (imo), but what other option is there? Invoking the mythical “power” of the Presidency to cajole Senators to vote for bills?

I will disagree only insofar that I think the Centrists with Rs after their names are precious few, and I don't know how much they deserve any cred for being "centrist." Whatever the flaws and merits of the health care reform bill (and I don't know if anyone has anything intelligent to say about either until it emerges from conference committee), it is readily apparent that the Republicans voted on a party line because the Republicans were (and remain) determined to block Obama's agenda by hook or by crook. (Click on the imbedded Krugman link above for even more on the current dysfunction in the Senate.) It takes no analytic ability to see this.

What keeps McArdle employed appears increasingly mysterious to me.

*Amended to correct my sloppy math. (This is why I shouldn't compose posts in a hurry.) I still don't think the GOP is going to take the House, even with the lower bar set.


  1. Ummm, each seat that switches takes one from the Dems and adds one to the Reps. The Reps only need to gain 41 seats to take the House.

  2. Yikes! Right you are. Corrected.

  3. That will be the day when 41 seats are turned over to the R's in this environment. That is barring another false Contract With America, the Corporate and Wealthy.