DON'T CANCEL YOUR DOCTOR APPOINTMENT JUST YET - AT 8:55 P.M. ET: Despite all the bravado coming from Harry Reid's office - for a man who seems at death's door, he sure makes a lot of noise - the final passage of health-care "reform" is anything but certain. There are still powerful forces in contention, as The Politico reports:
Despite a last-minute weekend deal that put the Senate on the brink of passing health care reform this week, liberal and moderate Democrats remain on a collision course over the bill, as both sides dug in Sunday for the next phase of negotiations.
President Barack Obama’s liberal base and powerful union leaders once hoped the expected House-Senate conference would partly undo a year of retreats and compromises, with Obama weighing in to nudge the moderate Senate bill to the left.
But the titanic struggle to lock in Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) as the 60th senator for the first key test vote early Monday morning has changed all that. The need to hold Nelson and other moderates in line means major changes on the public option, abortion, taxes, Medicare and Medicaid are unlikely — and that the Senate’s vision of health reform is likely to prevail over the House’s in the final talks.
“It is very clear that the bill — the final bill — to pass in the United States Senate is going to have to be very close to the bill that has been negotiated here,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Otherwise, you will not get 60 votes in the United States Senate.”
House Democrats acknowledge that they will be limited in how far they can tweak the Senate compromise. But House leadership also knows that its rank and file need to force some changes, however small, before they will accept the final package — as a face-saving measure to be able to swallow late changes to the bill in the Senate, most notably the decision to eliminate a public option.
COMMENT: I love it when they fight among themselves. And yet, let's not be too gleeful. Even if the whole thing does go down in the end, the American people will have a question: Okay, Republicans, what's your solution? Republicans better have one.
Remember, in 1948, Harry Truman ran against the "do nothing" Republican Congress, and he won with that line, and others. Voters may dislike the Democrats, but Republicans don't yet have them on board as lovers.
December 20, 2009