Fair. Balanced. American.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Senate to House: "We're not revisiting health care"

Not surprising. Sixty senators went on record supporting a bill. No comprehensive bill can be as good now, with Snowe as the 60th vote. In the absence of the House passing the Senate bill, I don't think even 40 Democratic senators will feel up to using reconciliation to ram a five-year health care reform through.

The health care debate has been poisonous to the image of Democrats across the country: the hard left is unimpressed by the bill because it isn't progressive enough, and the right has convinced independents that Obama wants to take away their doctors and bring the government into health care. That government intrusion, which in practice meant the horribly named public option and Medicare buy-in, wasn't just stripped by Lieberman. I count several co-conspirators who were just relieved Joementum did the dirty deed for them: Bayh, Lincoln, Nelson, Landrieu, Baucus, Carper, and Conrad.

Note, incidentally, that list of eight senators. With Coakley's defeat, that brings us down to 51 non-corporate Democrats. Even if you went the reconciliation route, all you would need is two among the following senators to jump ship: Webb, Hagan, Johnson, McCaskill and Warner. Given his comments yesterday, Webb would be a likely candidate, and Warner as well.

If the House kills the Senate bill, I only count about 40 sure votes for a comprehensive Senate bill that's more progressive than the original one, 48 tops. And that's leaving aside the parliamentarian's judgments as to what will pass procedural muster under reconciliation.

That's why Senators will not revisit health care if the House kills the Senate bill. The most we will get is a unanimous vote in both houses to end the practice of dropping people from insurance coverage once they get sick. Republicans will hail this as a triumph of common-sense reform, and they will be rewarded by voters for stopping the more costly provisions of "Obamacare," namely government subsidizing people's (private) insurance coverage to the tune of $200 billion a year.

Coakley's defeat and the panic among red state representatives also means that even if the House were to start from scratch, whatever new bill Pelosi cobbled together would be to the right of what was passed during what appeared to be a more favorable political environment.

No comments :