Harkin says final deal on health care bill was reached five days before Brown’s election

(Note: in this entry, A. Zarkov explains that Brown’s victory in Massachusetts was due primarily to a big gender gap.)

Sen. Tom (“Tom Joad”) Harkin, Iowa Democrat, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, says that a deal on a final health care bill was reached by the Senate, the House, and the White House on January 14 and sent to the Congressional Budget Office for rating, but that before the bill came back from the CBO and could be voted on, the Massachusetts Event (thank God) intervened and their labors came to nothing.

It’s an intriguing story adding luster to the Scott Brown miracle. But the miracle is great enough without being overstated. And I think Harkin is overstating the significance of the January 14 deal. Yes, the leadership may have agreed to a bill, but that doesn’t mean that sufficient numbers of the various recalcitrant and exigeant House factions—such as the Stupak Twelve, the Blue Dogs, and the progressives—had agreed to it. Indeed, the health care bill debate has repeatedly seen the same kind of false rumor, in which some congressional insider announces (in celebration if he’s a Democrat, in warning if he’s a Republican) that a deal has been reached, and then it turns out that this is not so, because while some people may have agreed to the deal, others have not.

The most recent example is Sen. Kyl’s comment to Hugh Hewitt on January 28 that the Democrats had agreed on moving forward using reconciliation, a story bound to trigger fear and discouragement among conservatives who had thought that the battle was finally over (at least for a while) and that they could relax. But Kyl’s story was immediately thrown into doubt when congressional Democrats were quoted the next day sadly conceding that there was no way of moving forward at the present time, while Madame Pelosi indulged in such desperate braggadocio (“If we can’t get it through the fence, we’ll parachute it in, if we can’t parachute it in, we’ll dig a tunnel and carry it under the fence”) that she only underscored the actuality that a sufficient number of Democrats are simply not in agreement on a bill. As for Kyl, maybe he had heard about a group of Democrats who had put together a deal, but other Democrats were not on board with it, meaning that there was no deal.

So, when Daniel Foster at the Corner, commenting on the Harkin story, says that “Obamacare [was] Defused with 00:03 Seconds Left,” and “This is how close we were to the ‘precipice’ the president once spoke about,” that is a large overstatement.

Update: Scott Brown told Barbara Walters this morning on ABC’s This Week that the health care bill “was on its last legs even before I was elected.”

Meaning, the bill already had large obstacles in its path, but Brown’s election virtually assured its death.

- end of initial entry -

A. Zarkov writes:

Mr. Auster writes about the “Scott Brown miracle.” It was a miracle, and my pre- and post-election analysis of the vote shows just what a miracle it was. The poll taken by Suffolk University on January 14 proved to be pretty representative of the people who actually voted in the election. I predicted using a computer simulation and a mathematical model that Brown had an 82 percent chance of winning, and that he would get 10 percent more votes than Coakley. He did both. But the election could have turned out differently. [LA comments: When Mr. Zarkov says that Brown got ten percent more than Coakley, he is not comparing their respective percentages of the total vote (i.e., 52 to 47), which is the usual way we think about election results; he is looking at Brown’s vote as a ratio of Coakley’s vote. Brown’s vote was 1.10 times Coakley’s, or ten percent more.]

I went back to the poll questionnaire and the tally of answers here. Initially I thought that Brown won because the Democrats touched the “Third Rail” of American politics, Medicare. But that was not the case, because the vote broke about evenly for people aged 66 and above. Then I found out what happened. The men of Massachusetts put Scott Brown in the Senate. Had the men voted like the women, the election would have been almost exactly reversed. Coakley would have had an 81 percent chance of winning with 10 percent more votes than Brown. In the poll Coakley got 50 percent of the women, and Brown only 45 percent (five percent went for other). On the other hand, Brown got 55 percent of the men versus Coakley’s 40 percent. Young women really went for Coakley. Women aged 18 to 45 give Coakley 59 percent of their votes versus 38 percent for Brown (three percent for other). Young men (18-45) went for Brown, but not as strongly as the women went for Coakley. They gave him 54 percent of their vote versus 42 percent for Coakley.

In Massachusetts we saw the so-called “gender gap” in action. Without more analysis, I can’t explain why the men went so strongly for Brown. It’s a miracle they did. Without the male miracle, history would have been different.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 31, 2010 09:30 AM | Send

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