Bart Stupak (D-Gilead)

Bart Stupak (D-Gilead)

I can only guess that the House didn’t vote on health care before the election because (as Pelosi has signaled) they didn’t have the votes.

Which is crazy, because if Rahm really cares about a “w” you have to wonder why the White House wasn’t whipping for the bill regardless of what it said just to get something through. Because Tuesday actually turned out better for the Democrats than anyone predicted, and now the unemployment figures have everyone panicked.

The 20 or so House Democrats who won’t vote for any health care bill at all now probably looks more like 25 (or more). Even those in Virginia with strong Democratic majorities who saw Deeds get wiped out in their district are running scared. Which has the effect of lowing the bar for empowering any group within the caucus that can rally enough members to get to 39 and stop the bill from passing, like Bart Stupak and the anti-abortion Dems.

So this was a very good sign:

Organized labor, still battling to stop plans to pay for health care through taxing expensive plans — but unwilling to flatly oppose reform — will consider a plan to reduce its contributions to Democrats who don’t side with them on the issue, a labor source said.

The federation’s executive council will meet Monday in Washington to consider, among other things, “how to hold politicians more accountable to the workers that helped elect them,” the source said, outlining a threat aimed primarily at the Blue Dog Democrats considering voting against a health reform package.

“One of the options is cutting off contributions to politicians who aren’t supporting the issues that workers care about,” he said.

The suggestion is based on a Sheet Metal Workers’ decision to stop giving money to politicians in favor of dedicating it to the issue campaign for health care legislation.

Why would the Blue Dogs care? Well, glad you asked:

As individuals, the 52 Blue Dogs have received the plurality of their 2009 campaign contributions from a traditional Democratic ally: organized labor. Labor political action committees have filled the Blue Dog Coalition members’ campaign committee coffers with more than a million dollars so far this cycle.That ought to get some attention. And if the White House wants to whip votes for the House bill (rather than empower Blue Dogs to align it more closely with the Senate Finance Committee bill), you can bet that other unions will soon follow suit.

Organized labor has given Bart Stupak 33% of his total lifetime campaign contributions. Something to think about.