The Senate produced two health care bills out of committee. Senator Reid caucused behind closed doors with Democrats to craft a single bill out of these. And on Saturday, he got the votes he needed to bring this bill to the floor for debate. But the likelyhood of this bill passing the Senate is in doubt.
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.”
No Republican is going to vote for this, and how many of the Senate Blue Dog Caucus it will attract is similarly in doubt. But there is a way forward: Forget the Liberals and form an alliance with the Republicans.
There are 40 Republicans in the Senate and 27 members of the Blue Dog Caucus. If a bill could be crafted that satisfies these folks, the President gets a twofor: He passes health care reform legislation and he fulfills a campaign promise to be bi-partisan.
Similarly in the House, there are 177 Republicans and 53 Blue Dogs for a total of 230 votes: significantly more that the 218 needed to pass legislation.
Support of the health care legislation by the public continues to decline. Meanwhile, a plurality of Americans think that the President and the Democrats are not making a good-faith effort to include Republicans in crafting health-care reform legislation and 60% of Americans think it would be wrong to pass such legislation without Republican support.
And it must be clear to everyone that the Left wing of the Democratic Party is the problem here.
But the right leadership could change all that...