Health Care Rumbles

The plan was pretty simple.  Have a health care reform bill done by the State of the Union Address, so that President Obama and Congressional Democrats could bask in the glory of a major legislative accomplishment.  That isn't happening today.

Instead, no one's quite sure what the President will say on health care in his speech.

What is clear right now is that Democrats have not been able to agree on a plan to revive their reform legislation, which went into the Legislative Ditch after the Massachusetts Senate election eight days ago.

The option of the House just passing the Senate bill isn't going anywhere right now, even though it is the easiest path to a new health care law.

Another plan that's been floated, would use budget reconciliation to move through changes to that Senate bill, which would avoid a filibuster in the Senate.

But now that's drawing opposition from some key moderate Democrats.

"I think reconciliation would be very ill-advised," said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN).

"I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation," said Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who may well be the most endangered Democratic Senator running for re-election this year.

But that reconciliation option may well be the best option for Democratic leaders, who will only need 50 votes in the Senate instead of 60, as Vice President Joe Biden could cast the tie-breaking vote to approve any health changes.

If that happens, that would truly be ironic on several levels.

Back in 1993, Democrats won approval of their budget reconciliation plan that included tax increases on a 50-50 tie vote that was broken by Vice President Al Gore.

That move helped feed a wave of political resentment, which resulted in massive losses in the 1994 elections, where Republicans booted Democrats out of power in both the House and Senate.

Maybe you get my drift on the possible parallel.

Stay tuned.

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