Will this win on health care give the Democrats momentum to use the rest of the year to take on the rest of the big legislative issues...or will they instead be so battle-weary that they avoid the hard issues?Good question. My initial reaction is: no idea!
Wait, I can do better than that. Let's think about this. March, legislatively, is more or less done. So we're talking about April, May, June, July, August, September, October. Six months. But of course there are breaks in there, including one large one, and they'll want to get out of town as early as possible before the election. So there really isn't a ton of time remaining.
The next question is what has to get done. Unless I'm forgetting something, the must-pass things this year are the budget, of course, and, most likely, a Supreme Court nomination. The budget is lots of items, and lots of floor time -- it's the budget resolution, and then appropriations bills, and perhaps a budget-centered reconciliation package, although I'm not aware as I write this of anything in particular that's really budget related that needs to go that way. Of course, several major items are already through the House, and only -- only! -- need Senate action (and then we'll play some ping-pong).
The emailer lists finance reform, climate/energy, education, and immigration as the major agenda items. Sounds right. I'd be shocked if immigration gets to the floor of either chamber this year...I can't imagine very many Members want to vote on it unless it is going to become law, and as far as I can see there's no way that can happen this year. Doesn't mean it won't get some attention, but in my opinion, no way.
I do think there's a fair chance that we'll get education and finance regulation. On the former, there's a real incentive for Dems to get it done with the current Congress. On the latter, there's I think a general feeling that it's important to get it done, although there's also the point made by Matt Yglesias that it's a good issue for the Dems to demagogue. Er, strike that, a good issue for the Dems to forcefully state their position and challenge Republicans to oppose them. But something could certainly pass. That leaves climate/energy...I'd have to think a lot more about the politics of this, and perhaps know more about the substance, to guess how it plays out.
I should actually address the question, though. Does passing health care make the other things more or less likely? I guess the answer is: compared to what? Compared to losing on the floor yesterday, or having to yank it back at the last minute and give up -- yes, it's much better for the other things that they passed health care. Compared to giving up in January? Hard to say. I do think, following Richard Neustadt, that the president's professional reputation matters, and if that's true then Obama should find everything a little easier with such a high-profile win, especially one in which he was perceived to have very little chance at several points. So I guess I'll go ahead and say it helps, but whether it's something that makes a difference is a lot harder to say.