HEALTH CARE "REFORM" - THE MAIN EVENT - AT 12:37 P.M. ET: The Senate voted last night to proceed to a major debate on health-care "reform." But passage of anything is far from certain, as the Politico reports:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid eked out 60 votes on a procedural motion to start the health care debate Saturday night – but there’s no guarantee he can pass a bill on the merits.
And as he struggles, the reasons are clear: deep divides among Democrats on a public insurance plan, abortion, tax hikes and cost-cutting. Liberals want the plan to be generous enough. Moderates fear a budget-buster. And everyone is trying to avoid angering seniors.
Even in the blush of Saturday’s victory, Reid (D-Nev.) is far from having the votes to move his $848 billion package to final passage. At least four centrists have pledged to oppose it in its current form, largely over the public option. Reid is in a bind. Stay to the left, and moderates vote no. Move a tad to the right, and Reid faces insurrection from the left, as liberals in his own caucus and in the House vow not to compromise any further on their signature issue.
As one of the Senate most liberal members, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), told POLITICO’s The Arena: “I have made it clear to the administration and Democratic leadership that my vote for the final bill is by no means guaranteed.”
COMMENT: Even if the Senate can pass a patched-together bill, it would have to be reconciled in committee with the House version, which may be impossible.
At the same time, there is a history of moderate Democrats caving in at the last minute under pressure from party leaders, and trying to explain it to voters later.
The Dems could have avoided this mess had they used common sense - illegal under Democrat Party by-laws - and simply worked for some finely targeted fixes to the health-care system. They might well have had bipartisan support. But, driven by the party's left, they sought to completely revamp a health-care system that works well for most people, and to take over a sixth of the nation's economy.
Would you let those people handle your household finances?
November 22, 2009