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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Democrats send up a white flag

Reid and Pelosi are surrendering on trying to muscle health care reform through Congress using any sort of tricky parliamentary maneuver such as reconciliation or ping ponging the bills back and forth between the chambers. The New York Times reports that they're taking a time out.
With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying that they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.” He added, “There is no rush,” and noted that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House.

Mr. Reid said that he and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, were working to map out a way to complete a health care overhaul in coming months. “There are a number of options being discussed,” Mr. Reid said, emphasizing “procedural aspects” of the issue.

At the same time, two centrist Democratic senators who are up for re-election this year, Blanche L. Lincoln of Arkansas and Evan Bayh of Indiana, said that they would resist efforts to muscle through a health care bill using a parliamentary tactic called budget reconciliation, which seemed to be the simplest way to advance the measure.

The White House has said in recent days that it would support that approach.

Some Democrats said that they did not expect any action on health care legislation until late February at earliest, perhaps after Congress returns from a weeklong recess. But the Democrats stand to lose momentum, and every day closer to the November election that the issue remains unresolved may reduce the chances of passing a far-reaching bill.
More and more Democrats are getting cold feet as they start perusing their poll numbers and the results of the Massachusetts election.

Who would have thought that with a huge majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, they couldn't pass their party and president's signature issue. Their failure lies squarely with their own botched efforts to craft a bill that the majority of the American people could support and that didn't seem full of cave-ins to special interests and giveaways to reluctant Democrats. They can blame the American people for being too dumb to know what's good for them. Or they can blame their leadership for choosing to craft such a huge, omnibus bill without any sincere effort at bipartisanship or taking into account the public's concerns. They may talk bravely about recalibrating for another attempt later on, but it seems that we can truly say, "It's dead, Jim."


equitus said...

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think this is a prime opportunity for the GOP to strike.

In response to the SOTU, Republicans ought to make their case for health insurance reform - make it LOUD and CLEAR, and hammer at it in all media. "Now that the Dem nonsense about health care has blown over, here's what we reallly ought to do..."

Steal Obama's signature issue, make it simple and clear, including related tax cuts/credits.

From now until December, Republicans have to be more than AGAINST Obama and the Dems - they need to be clearly FOR things.

tfhr said...


You probably are crazy but I agree with you anyway.

Clinton made much from co-opting conservative or at least Republican issues after 1994. That's where we got welfare reform.

The crazy part is in expecting the Republicans to do anything. I'm holding out hope but so far there hasn't been much evidence of leadership from that party. I can think of a few notable exceptions but at least, for the moment, they are united by opposition. The problem is when they become a majority: they become as coordinated as a herd of cats. But even now I don't see much organization on their part.

If the Republicans were smart, they'd strike while the iron is hot and do that by trotting Scott Brown out to deliver the "response" to Obama's SOTU teleprompter reading. Now is the perfect time to reinforce the simple fact that Brown's election to "Ted Kennedy's seat" was a repudiation of the Obama's corrupt effort to grab complete control of 1/5th of the economy.

But that would be crazy. For now I'll just settle for Joe Wilson yelling, "Do I have to say it again?!" while Obama lies to his teleprompter.

equitus said...

The voices in my head disagree with you on a couple of points, tfhr.

Too early to trot out Brown. He shows a lot of promise, but he needs some experience under his belt. Recall another state senator thrust into national leadership... And my point is that a message of repudiation isn't a good enough message.

Agreed, the (R) leadership hasn't been great, but every day is a new day. They've been playing defense the past year (not too badly), and now that they've taken away the ball at last, drive for a score!


tfhr said...

I take your point on a certain state senator elevated to the national limelight though I think Brown could deliver an effective retort while keeping his feet on the ground.

It's now mid-week after the Saints - Vikings, so I'm going to imagine that your metaphor was for basketball because, buddy, I'm retiring from football...for awhile.

equitus said...

In response to the SOTU, Republicans ought to make their case for health insurance reform...

Oh, hey. They got my memo. Betsy's Page rules!