I'm not sure that Republicans will have any success at this:
With a big new majority in the House, Republicans will have little trouble passing whatever they want – including a full repeal of the health care reform law. But Republicans don't have a majority in the Senate, so even modest changes to the law will require the help of centrist Democrats – or at least scared ones.
Manchin is the Republicans' top target – because he campaigned against part of the law, and because he'll have to face the voters again in 2012 if he wants to serve a full term.
I'll say this, if Democrats had 52 or 51 votes in the Senate -- as opposed to the 53 votes they will have in the 112th Congress -- then I would put good money on a party switch by Ben Nelson or Joe Manchin. As it stands, they don't have much room for leverage against the Democratic caucus. That said, there isn't anything to stop them from voting with Republicans on attacking the Affordable Care Act, in which case, Democrats should really adopt the legislative hardball that the GOP played well over the last two years.
I'm not fond of the filibuster -- and would like to see it reformed or repealed -- but I'm also not a fan of unilateral disarmament; legislators should use every available weapon to defend their interest, and if that means filibustering a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats to stop an attack on the ACA, I'd like to see it happen.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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