This post was originally published in March of 2010 on another site that is no longer online. It has been slightly modified from its original version.
March 20, 2010
Whatever House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in the House and Senate eventually either do or don't do regarding President Obama's healthcare reform proposal (commonly referred to as "Obamacare") is immaterial as to whether or not the bill (assuming one is passed) is ever actually implemented. The only real vote on Obamacare will take place this coming November, and it will be voted on by the American people themselves.
Consider the following:
In November of 1994 the U.S. House of Representatives saw an 82 seat majority for the Democrats become a 24 seat Republican majority overnight. The Senate remained at 56-44, but with the respective parties swapping numbers (and control of the Senate).
Even if Obamacare passes, Republicans can kill it at any point upon regaining control of the House by merely refusing to fund it. All budgetary legislation must originate in the House and the majority party (and/or coalition) must vote to spend everything contained within the Federal budget.
The GOP could just draw up a budget that doesn't include any reference to Obamacare, and the Senate can either pass it and the President sign it; or even better, have it rejected by either the Senate and/or President and stall for as long as necessary before authorizing the government to spend ANY money. The GOP could refuse to pass a budget bill until certain budgetary items have been removed completely from the federal bankroll.
This means that before any bill could be passed, any and all federal funds alloctated to anything even remotely related to Obamacare, ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and other rogue legislation and non-governmental organizations would have to first be stripped from the budget.
Therein lies the beauty of a system of checks-and-balances. Even if the ruling party passes Obamacare against the will of an overwhelming majority of Americans, the electoral punishment will open the door for the Republicans to undo the damage and actually serve the people that elected them rather than subjugate them. That is, assuming they can pick up enough seats to retake control of Congress.
Eventually, the President and the Senate (if the Democrats keep their majority there --- and that's a big "if") would have no choice but to compromise with Congressional Republicans in order to fund any government program.
It will be quite interesting to see how things would unfold with House Speaker Boehner calling the shots instead of Nancy Pelosi. The Republicans must pick up a minimum of 39 seats currently occupied by Democrats and successfully defend their own incumbents as well in order for that (the GOP gaining a House majority) to happen.
The Democrats presently hold a 77 seat advantage in the House and a 16 seat advantage in the Senate, although the two independents both caucus with the Democrats, so it's really more like an 18 seat Democrat edge.
In 1994, the Democrats held an 82 seat edge in the House and a 12 seat advantage in the Senate. While it is feasible that the GOP could recapture both legislative chambers in this November's elections, doing so would require a repeat of the '94 landslide, which was and still is an unprecedented rebellion against incumbents, in this case Democrats.
The Republicans winning enough seats in this year's mid-term election to acquire a majority within the Senate is extremely improbable given the circumstances. It's not an impossible scenario, but realistically the party should not be disappointed if it manages to make a serious dent in the Democrats' advantage, positioning the party so as to be able to make a serious bid at retaking control in 2012, when the dynamics are more in the GOP's favor with more so-called "vulnerable" Democrats such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana will be up for reelection.
As stated previously, if the GOP can just manage to retake the House it can stop Obamacare from ever being implemented in spite of objections from the President and Senate Democrats.
The question is not will the Democrats lose seats in this year's mid-term elections, but will they hang on to enough of them to be able to fund Obamacare (assuming they eventually get a bill passed)?
On a side-note, even if no bill is passed, it may be too late to undo the damage Obamacare (and the Stimulus bill, the GM takeover and everything else Obama has done while in office) has done to the Democrats chances for reelection across the board, and they should still stand to lose a considerable number of seats regardless of what happens with the healthcare reform bill from this point forward.