How will the health care “reform” bill affect the Democrats’ majorities?

Megan McArdle thinks it’s really, really bad for them:

Democrats are on a political suicide mission; I’m not a particularly accurate prognosticator, but I think this makes it very likely that in 2010 they will (lose) several seats in the Senate–enough to make it damn hard to pass any more of their signature legislation–and will lose the house outright. In the case of the House, you can attribute it to the fact that the leadership has safe seats. But three out of four of the Democrats on the podium today are in serious danger of losing their seats.

At the risk of seeming to “correct” the world’s tallest female econoblogger about economics: we’ve got to take the marginal rate of return into account.

Is that the right phrase? The marginal rate of return? Or should I say: we have to compare opportunity costs? See, this is why I shouldn’t argue economics with her. And I know I shouldn’t.

But: it’s highly likely that the Democrats will lose seats next year whether they pass the health care “reform” bill or not. Historically, the party in the White House does in the mid-term election. Unless the economy improves significantly or some world event creates a “rally around the president” effect…

So the question is: will passing the health care “reform” bill cost them more seats than they would have lost otherwise? Will it cost them a majority that they wouldn’t have lost otherwise?

If not, then damn the torpedoes.*

Another thought — just occurred to me — that whole “what’s going to happen between now and November” thing might explain why they’re straining so hard to pass this now. The general rule of thumb is: if you’re going to do something unpopular, do it early. That gives the electorate time to forget about it before they have to vote again — it gives you time to do a few more popular things to help them forget.

I’m not sure when the health care “reform” bill will start taking effect — most importantly, when will the new taxes and/or other costs start? If not until 2011, then this might not be the “suicide mission” Megan thinks.

* I know, that metaphor doesn’t really work here. The Senate is moving less like a determined warship, more like a pimply-faced teenager with a learner’s permit driving a manual transmission for the first time.

And one more thing: Republicans will do their best to tag the Democrats with their health care “reform” bill in 2010 whether or not they actually pass it. So there, too, we have to consider whether passing it will have a greater marginal effect on their majorities. I’m not so sure it will.

(I’m picking this fight here because my fight card is already full over at The TrogloPundit.)

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