NEWS BLOG (WSAU) New circumstances sometimes call for reevaluation of one’s opinions. I’m reevaluating what I think will happen in the health care debate in congress.
Two moths ago I blogged that President Obama’s prime-time speech to Congress was a failure, and that health care would die on Capital Hill. While I’m still under-whelmed by the White House's pitch, I now believe that Obama will get a bill that meets most of his policy goals.
The firewall – the chance to kill the bill – was Saturday night in the U.S. Senate. By blocking floor debate, the issue would have been dead for the rest of the year. And after two months of punditry on the magnitude of the defeat, I’m not sure the Obama administration would try again. Not in 2010. Not in an election year. And from there it would have died.
But now that the bill is on the floor I believe success is at hand for supporters of health care reform. There’s a certain momentum, especially in the Senate, to “get a bill”. The debate now shifts on two issues: abortion and the public health option. On the surface, tilting to from either side of either issue could damage a fragile voting coalition. But now that the bill is on the floor, there are limitless deals that can be brokered to cobble 60 votes together. We’ve already seen some of them: financial triggers for the public option, allowing states to opt out, creating insurance cooperatives, having the Health and Human Services Secretary certify which reproductive services get covered. There are dozens of other similar proposals that will be offered to make the bill more palatable. And several Senators like to think of themselves as great negotiators who relish the role of deal-broker. Republicans like John McCain, Olympia Snow, Lindsey Graham could all be involved in those kinds of ‘what do we have to do to get you vote?’ talks.
And if all else fails, one or two votes could always be bought. And Mary Landrieu’s vote was purchased on the cheap. She secured $200-million in special Medicare benefits for Louisiana. Considering the health care bill costs $850-billion over ten years, supporters would make a similar deal again to secure the votes they need.
For better or worse, health care reform is coming.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications