The Prisoner's Dilemma: What passing Health Care Reform has turned into

I remember while I was in a psychology class in college learning about the Prisoner’s Dilemma.  Two people have committed a murder.  And both are caught and taken into different interrogation rooms.  Neither prisoner has had enough time to collaborate a false but believable story of what happened.  Now remember, the prisoners don’t know what the other prisoner has actually told the authorities.  There are four possible scenarios.

  1. The first prisoner blames the other prisoner for the crime while the second prisoner doesn’t say a word.  The result would the blamer goes free and the quiet prisoner serves life in jail.
  2. The second prisoner blames the other prisoner for the crime while the first prisoner doesn’t say a word.  The result would the blamer goes free and the quiet prisoner serves life in jail.
  3. Both prisoners blame each other.  Then both would serve a long time in jail.
  4. Both prisoners are quiet.  Then both would serve light sentences for not cooperating with the investigation.

So obviously the best case scenario for the two prisoners collectively would be to just be quiet.  But remember, how much do you “trust” your buddy to be quiet?  Under real life situations, usually both will blame the other for the crime which puts the group in the worst outcome!

You have four major groups of people involved with this Health Care Reform Bill, the President, the Senate Democrats, the Stupak Democrats, and Labor Democrats.  Because of Senator Scott Brown’s victory in being number 41 against the current Health Care Bills, the House is forced to vote for the Senate version of Health Care Reform with the abortion funding language!  The Stupak Democrats can’t afford to vote for that language because they would not longer be Pro-Life Democrats by the Catholic lobby in particular.

Stupak’s problem is that the language cannot be change during reconciliation because that is not related to taxes and budgeting.  The “fix” that reconciliation resolves is the cadillac taxes on employer-based health plans to help out the Labor Democrats.  And probably the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase” deal fixed out of the bill.  Most House Democrats require these changes to go along with the Senate Health Care Reform Bill.  The Senate could probably find 51 Senators to go along with those changes, but the problem is the President.  He has to sign the Senate Health Care Reform bill word for word, and then sign the reconciliation.

But the problem is still Stupak Democrats.  In order to get 216 Democrats needed to get the House to vote for the Senate bill (216 because of resignations and deaths) they have the get some of those Stupak Democrats.  Remember Nanacy Pelosi was willing to accept the Stupak amendent to get the votes needed for the House’s Health Care Reform.  The Stupak Democrats would have to twice vote for the Senate bills with the abortion language still unfixed!  Their fix would require yet another individual bill to change the abortion funding language to the Stupak language.  Do Stupak Democrats really believe that the Senate Democrats will go along with that language on abortion.  Plus the President has to sign that language.  Does ANYONE really believe that Obama with sign that language into law?

What could easily happen is that the House approves that Senate Health Care Bill and then the President signs it and then call it Health Care Reform and then moves on to jobs, jobs, jobs.  This scenario would leave Stupak Democrats and Labor Democrats out in the cold!

Basically the only way they all win is to hold hands and passed the Senate bill, then the “fix” reconciliation bill, and then the Stupak amendment as an individual bill.  The reason it has to happen this way is because you cannot amend a bill without having it signed into law first.  So there is a very specific order of signing these bills.  But can that REALLY happen.  I don’t think so.  People are either going to get thrown under the bus or no bill happens.  I fear the former but hope the latter.