December 1, 2009

The amendment per ailment strategy will fail Democrats

Sometimes a strategy just presents itself.  Democrats, in pushing their Senate health care bill debate, have revealed a flaw in their already byzantine approach to the whole thing, and guess what; it lends itself to a fairly simple counter-tactic.

AP News in a story about the upcoming fight, telegraphs the only possible result of the forthcoming debate;
Democrats planned to go on the offense on the same issue Tuesday with an amendment underscoring benefits to seniors and guaranteeing that basic Medicare benefits would not be touched.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., made a bid for support from women Monday with an amendment to reduce copays and deductibles for preventive services such as mammograms. Alluding to outrage earlier this month after a government-appointed panel said that women generally should begin routine mammograms in their 50s rather than their 40s, Mikulski said that under her amendment, "if your doctor says you need one, you're going to get one."
Two issues, two amendments.  The bill itself is a patchwork of ideas, guaranteed slapped together from multiple sources.  In addition, every issue that comes up is going to require an additional patch - Medicare is impacted? Add an amendement.  We look bad on mammograms?  Add an amendment.  Bad on abortion? Amendment (maybe not, in the Senate).  Problems with death panels - make an amendment.

This is going to become an even bigger nightmare of patchwork on patchwork.

So what's the "obvious" counter-strategy? It's simple.  Conservatives, and the GOP need to do two things - continue to find new issues that the Democrats will have to address, and secondly, continue to bring those issues to the attention of the public by whatever means necessary - in the debate, via Sarah Palin's Facebook messages, comments to Fox News, send them to Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, or via any means necessary.

Here's the method for the conservative counter-tactic;

-the GOP should assign teams to investigate and compile a list of distinct problems with the bill
-the conservative blogosphere could do the same, with a key site like HotAir bringing forth the issues one at a time as a meme to spread on the internet.
-the issues should be brought forth one or two at a time to allow the Democrats to respond to each individually.

Here's why it works.  With each amendment that gets added, it becomes more apparent that this is a clumsy plan that has not been well thought out beforehand and deserves a longer review.  That delays the vote before a filibuster even becomes necessary.  It even forestalls the Democrats internal moderate versus liberals debate.  It buys time Secondly it drives down public opinion in the process.  Every day another amendment gets added it becomes easier to say, we keep finding more holes and this plan isn't well thought out. On the other side, Democrats could start saying enough to the amendments.  But that will only anger those who see more holes popping up in the plan and now they're not being addressed.  As public opinion declines, the votes for the bill may drain away.

The only possible negative I can see in this approach is that people like Senator Lieberman who may be willing to filibuster might be put off by the tactic and may change their minds on whether to filibuster down the road.  It may mean not enough votes get drained away before a filibuster ends.

But, t'is better to die fighting than merely hoping for a happy ending.

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