Democratic leaders are trying to bluff their way to victory with the health care bill:
Democratic leaders scrambled Sunday to pull together enough support in the House for a make-or-break decision on health-care reform later this week, expressing optimism that a package will soon be signed into law by President Obama despite a lack of firm votes for passage.
The rosy predictions of success, combined with the difficult realities of mustering votes, underscore the gamble that the White House and congressional Democrats are poised to make in an attempt to push Obama's health-care plans across the finish line. The urgency of the effort illustrates growing agreement among Democratic leaders that passing the legislation is key to limiting damage to the party during this year's perilous midterm elections.
But House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) pledged to do "everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill." He also joined other Republicans Sunday in warning that Democrats would pay for the legislation by losing even more seats than expected in November.
The most optimistic talk on Sunday came from the White House. Obama senior adviser David Axelrod predicted that Democrats "will have the votes to pass this," and press secretary Robert Gibbs declared that "this is the climactic week for health-care reform."
But Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the Democrats' chief head-counter in the House, cautioned that the party has not yet found the 216 votes needed to win approval of the health-care bill passed by the Senate in December.
"We don't have them as of this morning, but we've been working this thing all weekend," Clyburn said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I'm also very confident that we'll get this done."
This is a transparent fauxmentum strategy. The Dem leadership is looking at a small group of hard-core "No" votes, a large group of committed "Yes" votes (who will later feign surprise when the reconciliation effort falls apart in the Senate), and a swing group that does not want to vote on this at all because they don't want to lose their jobs, offend the leadership, or torpedo the Obama Administration.
The leadership plan is to pretend that any day now they will sound the whistle, announce that the train is leaving the station, and holler "All aboard that's getting aboard". At the fateful moment of decision (they hope), enough of the swing bloc will opt for placating the leadership and promoting Team Obama, and the bill will pass.
Now, will they blow the whistle without the votes in hand? I am sure they are bluffing, but I don't know what they will do if their bluff is called. I Boldly Predict that this will be an interesting week.