Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care: The Four Week Countdown

Democrats have a month, reconciliation is the only way

On CNN this evening, James Carville had nice things to say about the way Lamar Alexander and Tom Coburn opened today's health care summit between Democrats and Republicans. He also said that he thought Barack Obama was the "smartest guy in the room." It was painful to watch the six hour discussion, Carville said, because he was an ADD sort of guy, but it seemed a good setting for Obama to show what he had.

Never mind. Win the discussion or lose it, Obama knows time is running out on health care and the Democrats, They must act before the Congressional recess for Easter, which begins four weeks from Friday. If they don't, Democratic senators and representatives will return from their districts cowed by voter anger and anxious to do something, anything about the economy. But the thing is, without passing a health care bill, nothing Democrats do after April will sway an electorate ready to abandon them in sufficient numbers to cost virtually every single swing seat they hold now. And Harry Reid will go down, too.

So here's the deal: There is going to be a bill passed by reconciliation. Now is the time for every one who gives a damn about what's in the bill to lobby to make it as good as it can be--the 51 votes are there. And if the bill passes before April, it will do very little downstream harm. The republic will not collapse before November and the economy, with a little more government action, will stagger forward; not in a way that fixes much, but well enough to reduce some of anti-government anger that so frightens the Dems. And with health care off the agenda temporarily, expect Congressional Democrats to do a little better with economic and environmental issues.

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