The quiet confidence among Democratic leaders over the health care bill belies the hardball tactics going on behind the scenes. The millions of dollars which will be spent this week by the Chamber of Commerce and the like is transitory and temporary, although where they’re playing offers a clue into who needs whipping.
But the support that the President offers on those phone calls goes beyond this week:
Mr. Obama is making daily telephone calls to Democrats who supported the health care bill last year, but have yet to decide how they intend to vote this time [...] The health care debate is unfolding against the backdrop of an already difficult political year for Democrats. The White House has signaled to lawmakers that assistance for midterm elections — for example, presidential visits and fund-raisers — will be prioritized for those who support the bill.
Playing bad cop to this good cop is MoveOn.org, promising to raise money for primary challengers for Democrats who vote against the bill.
The group is set to blast out an email to its five million member list Monday asking recipients to pledge anywhere from $25 to $200 (or more) for the purposes of defeating conservative Democrats who help defeat the legislation.
“Health care reform is in serious danger in the House of Representatives: with a handful of conservative Democrats wavering, we don’t yet have the votes to pass the final bill,” reads the email, which was sent in advance to the Huffington Post. “So we’re asking every MoveOn member: will you pledge to support progressive primary challengers to House Democrats who side with Republicans to kill health care reform?
Again, this runs into the problem of filing deadlines. For instance, one state with a lot of members in play is Ohio, which already finalized their primary ballot. But MoveOn dropped some names to Sam Stein who would face potential primary challengers – Scott Murphy (D-NY), Michael McMahon (D-NY), and Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL). McMahon has already been targeted by the local SEIU 1199 in New York.
MoveOn has raised over $1.2 million dollars for Bill Halter to challenge Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, so they have the ability to fundraise through their membership.
Clearly, House members on the fence face an array of unpalatable options no matter their vote this week.