James Suroweicki wisely rebuts concern trolls who say that using reconciliation or other tough parliamentary procedures will produce an opinion backlash against health care reform:
Even in straight political terms, where is the evidence that ordinary voters remember how laws were passed and reward or punish politicians based on that? On the contrary, voters judge politicians (to the extent that they make rational decisions) based on whether the laws they passed worked or not. In my recent interview with Barney Frank, he made this point with reference to the 2003 expansion of Medicare to include prescription drugs. That bill passed the House of Representatives by one vote, and only passed because the Republican leadership kept the vote open for hours so that they could strong-arm members into supporting it. But, as Frank said, voters today aren’t asking for its repeal or complaining about the way the benefit was enacted, because — for all of its flaws, like the infamous “doughnut hole” — on the whole they’re reasonably happy with the way the plan has worked. The reality is that if the Administration passes significant health-care reform that works — that is, it regulates bad behavior by the insurance companies, makes insurance portable, makes it possible for individuals to buy insurance at reasonable rates, and reduces (as a result) the number of the uninsured — American voters will not care that it passed via reconciliation. Political victory on this issue isn’t going to be determined by how the law gets enacted. It’ll be determined by what happens once it is enacted.
Right. By the same token, voters don’t reward you for passing laws that were popular at the time you voted for them. Voters reward you for passing laws that are popular on Election Day. Voting for something that people think they like, but that they actually wind up hating in practice, doesn’t do you any good. But voting for something that people are skeptical about, but that they actually wind up liking in practice, doesn’t do you any harm.