Health Care Limbo

It was not a good week for Democrats or the White House when it comes to health care reform.  On Tuesday, the talk was still about working out a final House-Senate deal; by Thursday, there were questions about getting anything through Congress.

That was evident by the screaming headline on the Drudge Report: "The Day Health Care Died."

Is it dead?  The technical answer is, no.  But the political answer is tilting towards yes right now.  There is still time for Democrats to save it, but then again, there is still time for me to win the lottery, too.

All of this is due obviously to the victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts on Tuesday.  He takes away the 60th vote for Democrats in the Senate - and just like that (snap your fingers for sound effect) - the health care bill is on hold.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that by saying that she was short on votes in the House for the easiest way to get a health bill into law, by just having the House approve a Senate-passed version of health reform.

"There isn't a market right now for proceeding with a full bill unless some changes are made," Pelosi told reporters, just after a somewhat contentious Democratic Caucus on the matter.

"You characterize it correctly," she told one reporter about the frustration-laden caucus meeting, "Unease would be a gentle word."

Liberals are refusing to support the Senate-passed health care bill, because of a variety of provisions that they don't care for.  Some Democrats don't like the abortion funding restrictions.  Many don't like the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the list goes on and on.

It's a maddening situation for Democrats, who seemed to be moving slowly but surely towards a final bill that would have just had enough votes to pass and be signed into law.

But the Bay State loss has done that in.

Meanwhile, the White House was again shrugging its shoulders at the troubles of the last few days, as Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the best thing to do right now is not panic, by "letting the dust settle" and then look for the "best path forward."

In other words, Democrats aren't sure how to fix this.

On Wednesday, the President seemed to endorse a slimmed-down version of health reform, but on Thursday, Gibbs said the President still wanted a comprehensive bill.

It may well be that health care is dead.  But you can't write that just yet.

Maybe later.