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Today in Health Care Reform

The Democrats have no good options.

2:32 PM, Feb 26, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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For those of us tracking the health care debate, this John Podhoretz post is required reading:

I don’t think there’s ever been a situation like this in American political history. Every way you look at it, Democrats are boxed in, forced to choose between extraordinarily unattractive options. What makes it especially noteworthy is that this was a calamity they summoned entirely upon themselves.

Podhoretz runs through the various options open to Democrats. The lynchpin is the House, where Nancy Pelosi needs 217 votes. It's not clear she has them. The media seem to be focusing on the Senate, where Democratic leaders are preparing to use a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation to bypass the 60-vote requirement to cut off debate. That seems beside the point, however, if Pelosi can't muster up 217 House Democrats to vote for the president's top priority.

It's also worth noting that the Democratic calamity is almost totally the result of public opinion. Obama was extremely careful to win the support of the major interest groups -- AARP, AHA, PHRMA -- last year. The Democrats have a large majority in the House. Until a couple weeks ago, they had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Republicans have not stopped them from passing this legislation. A lack of internal Democratic support has. And at the moment, you do not see any House Democrats who voted No in November stepping forward to say they will vote Yes in the coming weeks.

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