Bipartisan Health Care Reform Nearly Dead?

During the Sunday talk shows the most important line came from White House advisor David Axelrod. His statements indicate the chance of bipartisan health care reform is becoming increasingly remote.

On This Week, David Axelrod redefined bipartisanship as simply including Republican ideas in the bill. He only “hopes it will come with Republican votes.”

This is new willingness on the part of the White House to go it alone on health care reform. I suspect what happened is the White House saw just how watered down legislation would need to be to get Republicans' support and was very not happy.

I looked at a draft outline of the “bipartisan” Senate Finance Committee's bill, and it is terrible. All the recent reporting has indicated that it has only gotten worse.

I don't know if the Obama administration concluded that the Finance Committee's bill would be unworkable politically, practically, or both. On a political level, there are probably enough liberal members of the House and Senate who will kill any reform resembling the Finance Committee's bill. They would rather take the “swiss cheese” version of a good bill that would be the result of using reconciliation over the complete version of a bad “bipartisan” bill.

The White House may also be concerned that the Finance Committee's bill would on a practical level be unworkable. It would be implemented too slowly, not do enough to make health care affordable, and not slow the growth in cost. If Obama signs a health care “reform” bill that could still leave low income people with medical bills in the ten of thousands, it could discredit the reform, the president, and the party.

No one yet knows what final shape the bipartisan Finance Committee's health care bill will take, but it is not going to be pretty. Obama has said he would rather have 85% of what he wants with 70 votes than 100% with 52 votes. The problem is any bill that can get 70 votes in the Senate will probably be closer to 35% of what he wants. Obama needs to ask himself if that is good enough for him personally, and also if he will be able to sell it to the more progressive members of his party. Axelrod is indicating the answer might be no.

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