The “health-care summit” has come and gone, and it was a good day for the Republicans. They were sharp and focused, the Democrats meandering and ineffectual. The latter came off more like wishful ideologues or naive amateurs than like practical realists with sensible solutions. They seemed disconnected from economic and budgetary realities, and from the electorate. Politico’s Chris Frates writes that “Disciplined Republicans came off looking more like principled opponents than foaming-at-the-mouth obstructionists,” that the “Democrats focused on the ‘why’ of health reform instead of the ‘how’,” and that “The meeting itself didn't provide much new cover for wary red-state Democrats.”
This week’s CNN poll shows that only 25 percent of Americans now support ObamaCare, while 73 percent want to scrap it — and either move on (some) or start over (most). It’s indeed possible to get nearly three out of four Americans to agree on something.
The road ahead for the Democrats appears to be to try to pass their major health care overhaul through a process reserved for “budget reconciliation.” This, despite Democratic senators’ own public statements that “I don't believe reconciliation was ever intended for the purpose of writing this kind of substantive reform legislation such as health care reform” (Sen. Kent Conrad); that “putting health-care reform…on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted” (Sen. Robert Byrd); that “I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans” (Sen. Blanche Lincoln) — and a host of similar statements.
The New York Times’s response to all of this is to write that President Obama needs to “jettison any illusions that he can win Republican support,” “get his own party in line,” and pass his bill. The Washington Post’s Shailagh Murray and Anne Kornblut say that the president is likely to try just that, writing that “Obama signaled that if meaningful GOP cooperation does not materialize in the weeks ahead, he is ready to proceed without bipartisan support and risk the political consequences.”
The president isn’t up for reelection for 32 months, and he clearly doesn’t fear the electorate at this time. The question is whether Democratic members of Congress, who will face the electorate in eight months, are willing to sacrifice their own careers to pass ObamaCare. This is especially true for the 60-or-so Democrats who currently hold seats in red states or districts — many of whom I discuss here in greater detail.