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Dems Out on a Limb: Health Reform Must Pass

John on October 26, 2009 at 10:11 am

That’s the sense you get reading this new piece on the behind the scenes action in the health reform debate. The piece begins and ends with the political necessity of passing…something, anything:

Having bet the farm, President Barack Obama needs a win and is willing to settle for a cheaper bill and a weaker public insurance option…

“I believe we’re getting a bill,” he [Rep. Miller] continued. “I believe we’re sending a bill over to Obama’s desk. Everyone knows this is too far along, it has to pass.”

This sentiment has been on Democratic minds for months already. Back in August, this quote was buried near the end of a Joe Klein column for Time magazine:

“Something called health-reform legislation will pass,” a prominent Democrat told me. “The political consequences of not passing anything would be too great.”

But between the frank political necessity at either end of the Politico piece are the difficult realities. President Obama has pledged the bill will remain deficit neutral within the budget window, i.e. ten years. Democrats have already created a bill with 10 years of new taxes and only 6-7 years of new benefits in order to make the numbers add up. It’s a transparent shell game.

It’s still not enough.

In order to meet their goal, Democrats must risk shorting one of two groups. Group one is seniors who will have to sacrifice some additional medicare benefits. Group two is Americans just above the poverty line who will be asked to pay more for the new plan than they are currently paying. Neither group is likely to be happy and this has Dems in the House worried about their future in 2010.

But the President has set a firm budget and they are forced to work below the $900 billion number. So will the President get his win at the expense of Dems in the House, or do the House Dems get a crowd-pleasing bill that violates the President’s deficit pledge? In the end, both sides know they must pass something soon. They just need something they can claim as victory. At a certain point, anything will do.

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Category: Health & Education |

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