President Obama and the congressional Democrats have at least three options in their quest to pass health care legislation. Two of them don’t seem very promising, but the third one might be.
One option is for the House to pass the Senate version of health care legislation. If the House were to do so, it would negate the impact of Scott Brown’s election on the issue.
But the House was barely able to pass its own version of health care, though Speaker Pelosi may have had a few votes in reserve. Thus, the Senate’s version, which differs in material respects (e.g., abortion and taxation of “cadillac” plans) would have been a tough sell under the best of circumstances. And with many Democratic Representatives no doubt spooked by today’s election results, these aren’t the best of circumstances.
A second option is to try to get the Senate to act on a new version before Brown is seated. But there doesn’t appear to be enough time to accomplish this unless the Democrats contrive to prevent the timely seating of Brown. That tactic would probably consign even more Democrats to defeat in November. Moreover, certain Red and Purple State Democratic Senators will also have been spooked by today’s result — at least spooked enough not countenance the kind of abusive behavior described above. In fact, some of these characters may see Brown’s election as an opportunity to attempt to save what little face they still may have.
The third option is to include a few Republicans in the process, e.g. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. This is what the Democrats should have done in the first place. The defection of Arlen Specter lulled them into the rash decision to push through this transformative legislation with no Republican support. That move has backfired.
Now the Dems have the opportunity to fix their mistake. It wouldn’t even be that difficult. To my knowledge, you can’t “buy” Snowe and Collins as you can some of the so-called moderate Democrats. But neither have they been “tough sells” when ti comes to cooperating with the liberal Dems.
For me right now, the five words I dread are “Obama to meet with Snowe.”
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