Democrats are still in panic mode as rumors fly about next steps in their marathon attempt to reform health care. The disarray continued after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that, “In its present form, without change, I don’t think it’s possible to pass the Senate bill in the House.”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, reacting to the news, proclaims, “We’re probably looking more at a Square One approach, and this time the Obama administration may try to draft key Republicans into the talks in order to get bipartisan cover. Either way, it’s an ignominious defeat for Obama and Pelosi, whose radical approach and ‘I won’ attitude finally caught up with them.”
Josh Marshall, founder of Talking Points Memo and its reporting enterprises, is pessimistic: “In other words, plug pulled. Health care reform over.”
Ezra Klein thinks Pelosi’s comments were taken somewhat out of context, saying, “It reads more like she’s arguing the Senate bill will need to be changed in order to pass, which is a pretty normal stance right now.”
The American Spectator’s Philip Klein looks at House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s comments after Pelosi, and says, “So it’s unclear from his comments whether it’s still a theoretical possibility that Democrats may try to have the House pass the Senate bill and use reconciliation to modify it.” Klein notes, however, that “passing a reconciliation bill isn’t as easy as it sounds,” because of the complicated procedures it entails, including writing a whole new bill.
In terms of next steps, Bob Laszewski cautions, “The problem with bipartisanship now is that the Republican base is not about to let any of their own Senators do anything to take the Dems off the political meat hook they are now dangling from.” Laszewski points to one of his posts from the day after the 2008 presidential election and reaffirms that a “modest bipartisan bill” is still possible — if legislators “take the road less traveled.”
NPR’s Julie Rovner asks if Democrats are “drawing the wrong conclusion” from the Massachusetts Senate vote. She interviews public opinion expert Robert Blendon to make the case: “Thus, he says, what voters reacted to was not what the bills would do, but how they would be paid for. Which doesn’t mean lawmakers in Washington struggling to salvage their health bills don’t still have a problem. It just may be a different problem than the one they think they have.”
Elsewhere, some are blaming President Barack Obama.
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn laments Obama’s lack of reassurance thus far following Scott Brown’s election to the Senate: “If health care reform is to be salvaged–and, I’ll be honest, I’m not terribly optimistic right now–it will take something more. It’s going to take the president showing the resolve and leadership that got him elected. The last 36 hours have made me doubt that he will. But, lord knows, he’s proven me wrong before. Maybe he’ll do it again.”
The New York Times’ Paul Krugman takes the frustration even further: “But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.”
And The National Journal’s Marilyn Werber-Serafini asks her experts, “should Congress scrap health care reform or work on a skinny bipartisan bill?” Responders so far include Tom Miller, Jason Rosenbaum, Kenneth Thorpe and Grace-Marie Turner.