Health reform is in serious jeopardy. Its advocates appear shell-shocked. Opponents are far from sleeping easy. And bloggers are bickering about the meaning of Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Tuesday’s special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. And there’s no agreement on what comes next, either.
Bob Laszewski, who doesn’t support the health bills in Congress, proclaims, “Stick a fork in it! The Democratic effort to pass a health bill is dead.” He blames public opinion, and continues, “For goodness sakes—they rejected it in Massachusetts! On the political shocker scale this rivals “Dewey Defeats Truman” and the ‘94 elections.”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein suggests there is a way forward through a reconciliation bill, though he says it would be much more “limited” than the current proposed bills: “If you go that route, you admit the whole thing seemed too opaque and complex and compromised. … So you make it real simple: Medicare buy-in between 50 and 65. Medicaid expands up to 200 percent of poverty with the federal government funding the whole of the expansion. Revenue comes from a surtax on the wealthy. And that’s it.”
Heritage’s Brian Darling says the election “sent a thunderbolt from Boston to Washington that may push ObamaCare into the critical list.” According to Darling, because the seat has been held by Democrats for more than 50 years, the election is “evidence” that “the American people are angry and dissatisfied with Washington’s direction on health care reform.”
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn tries to inject some sense into panicked Democrats, arguing that a vote can take place quickly and the House, by agreeing to vote on the Senate-passed version of health care “could put health care reform on the president’s desk for signing. One lousy vote. One lousy, stinking roll call vote. That’s the only hurdle in the way of health care reform. Are Democrats really willing to give up now?”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey looks at tepid support from Democratic caucus members for continuing to push their reform bill but cautions, “For the moment, it seems as though ObamaCare has been stopped. But that doesn’t mean that it’s dead.”
Critical Condition’s Benjamin Zycher is cautious as well, and says Democrats may try to pass a smaller version of reform that focuses on “insurance reform.” Zycher argues that Republicans should still oppose this kind of legislation because, “this path would lead inexorably to the nirvana of health-care socialism that the Left has been dreaming about for decades.”
And labor groups have announced one tactic they’ll support, TPM’s Brian Beutler reports: “The most influential labor organizations in the country have arrived at a common solution to the Democrats’ health care conundrum: Move forward, pass the Senate bill through the House, but only if a separate, filibuster proof bill codifying a crucial changes is passed post haste.”