Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 5, 2010

FROM 216 BACK TO 217.... A House majority is supposed to be 218. This week, we learned, due to vacancies, the new threshold would drop to 216. Yesterday, it got bumped back up to 217.

What happened? Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) retired from Congress last year, bringing the total number of House members to 434. Last month, John Murtha (D-Pa.) passed away, bringing the total to 433. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) resigned over the weekend to run for governor, making it 432, and Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) announced this would be his last week in Congress because he's running for governor, too, making it 431. A majority of 431 is 216.

Except yesterday, Deal decided to delay his plans.

Representative Nathan Deal, Republican of Georgia, who announced his retirement on Monday, said that he would postpone his departure so that he could stay in Congress to vote against the Democrats' big health care legislation.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Deal said that President Obama's decision to push for a quick vote on the health care legislation had prompted him to change his plans.

"Just two days after I announced my intentions to leave Congress, the majority party stepped up the schedule for the proposed health care bill. Having been deeply involved in all health care legislation for the past decade, I knew it was important to stay and vote down this bill."

Deal, facing a series of ethics allegations, said in a statement that he feels compelled to stick around and "fight against the most liberal health care agenda ever proposed."

Now, Deal is something of a right-wing clown, so his rhetoric is not terribly surprising. But notice the way the two parties handled similar situations.

Abercrombie, a supporter of health care reform, bolted from the Hill when his party needed him, but the Democratic caucus threw him a nice going-away party anyway. Deal was poised to do the same thing, but the Republican caucus urged him to stay a few additional weeks, just to make it that much harder to help fix the dysfunctional health care system.

The parties just seem to play the same game by different rules.

Sure, it's only one vote, but given the legislative dynamic, it's going to be just a little tougher to put together 217 votes than 216.

Steve Benen 9:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Does that mean the ethics committee will release it's report now?

Posted by: atlliberal on March 5, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

I can understand Deal's actions, but WTF with Abercrombie? Hawaii is a pretty blue state, so "I'm ditching my elected responsibilities on the most important vote in a generation" isn't exactly a compelling platform to run a gubernatorial race on.

Posted by: oh my on March 5, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

There's doing the right thing but without ideological certitude. And there's doing the absolutely right thing but without moral conscience. It's not difficult to predict the winner here.

As a nation, we've lost the maturity to make the best deal and simply forge ahead. Now it's all or nothing. Advantage: nihilists.

Posted by: walt on March 5, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

That should be 'launch' a gubernatorial race on.

Posted by: oh my on March 5, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

I know this is a different subject but anyone who is interested should read the Political Carnival website this am, they have an article written by someone who was actually at the Jay Leno show, where Sarah Palin was the guest. This will really make you think!!!! I wish everyone could read it.
Please check it out!

Posted by: Joan on March 5, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Just to add that the special election to replace Wexler takes place on 13 April. In the absence of unknown tea party strength in Palm Beach, or the use of butterfly ballots, he will be succeeded by Democrat Ted Deutch. So, if the final vote does not take place before the Passover/Easter recess, Dems might as well wait until 14/15 April to regain the one vote advantage lost by Deal's un-resignation. That could of course mean that the vote count isn't going well, so not necessarily a positive development, but there it is. My undrestanding is both Murtha and Abercrombie special elections will not take place until May (at the earliest).

Posted by: Bill on March 5, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, we have Flag Football vs the NFL.

Posted by: DAY on March 5, 2010 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

And, most disgustingly, we are where we are only because the Republicans shamelessly took advantage of the death of the most fervent and diligent supporter of healthcare reform our party has. They play for keeps; our sense of morality stops us from achieving...every time.

Posted by: Alex on March 5, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

"Once again, we have Flag Football vs the NFL."


I watched Grayson vs. Bachmann the other day. Bachmann came fully armed and ready with a continuous stream of lies. Larry King sat there like a moron while she lied and said nothing. Grayson was completely unprepared and let every lie stand.

The winner? The liar won - hands down!

Posted by: Mark-NC on March 5, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

The parties just seem to play the same game by different rules.

This is not exactly headline news.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on March 5, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

The situation illustrates why Progressives need find and support strong candidates NOW to run against Blue Dog House, Senate Dems--- and Obama. A challenge has done wonders for the current political positions of Specter (as it did for Lieberman when campaigning). A challenge by Halter will change Lincoln not at all (she is hopeless in almost every sense of that word) but Halter's challenge will almost certainly cause other threatened Blue Dog incumbents to think at least twice. An even vaguely-credible challenger to Obama would do wonders for changing his positions and tone--- much more so than Huey Long did for FDR. It's quite possible that you have Huey to thank for Social Security today. Howard Dean-- where are you now that we REALLY need you??

Posted by: gdb on March 5, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

It's all voodoo mathematics; we all know that a majority is 60%, so without 260 votes, the Democrats should break for recess now.

Posted by: qwerty on March 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

By handling these personal ambition situations differently, the Dems just gave Stupak even more leverage to blow up health care.

So Steve, you should probably follow up this post with one that reminds us again that it's really the Republicans who are "stupid" because Dems have the better policy positions.

It will make you feel better.

Posted by: Observer on March 5, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

This isn't rocket science. If Deal leaves and Obamacare passes by one vote, he's the Republican candidate for governer who let the Dems pass Obamacare - not a good position to be in. It's not about the party. It's about him running for office and trying to please the people he wants to vote for him. Which is how democratic republics are supposed to work.

Posted by: Dave H on March 5, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I agree wholeheartedly with "gdb". We need to find real progressives to challenge all the weak sisters.

Posted by: Metanis on March 5, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

HCR is certainly lose-lose for the Dems...at least in the short run. IMO it's marginally worse for them if they pass it (especially via reconciliation) than if they don't. But, either way, they're in for a bitch slapping in November. My personal desire is for the Bill not to pass, because I think it's a budget-busting mf'er 10 years out. Medicare is $38 trillion in the red once the boomers become eligible, we've already got a $12 tillion national debt and unemployment is at 10%. So what does the Left do? Propose the mother of all new entitlement programs with no way to pay for it. Unbelievable!!

Posted by: JohnR22 on March 5, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

WOW, liberalism really is a mental disorder!!

Posted by: RHINO4HIRE on March 5, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

How's this for numbers:


A m-a-j-o-r-i-t-y.

How that for numbers? How's that for math?

Posted by: Jack Davis on March 5, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's back to 216 as of Monday, when Eric Massa (D.-N.Y.) leaves office.

Posted by: Henry on March 5, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting to see if Deal's gubernatorial campaign has received, or will receive, any donations from the health care industry...

Posted by: josef on March 5, 2010 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK



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