I’m glad yesterday’s health care summit went well for Republicans. Democrats hogged the time, used too many anecdotes that say nothing about the merits of their proposals, and did little to assuage the many concerns that Americans have about their trillion-dollar health care legislation. Republicans were able to show that they aren’t just the party of no. They want to improve the health care system, and have real ideas about how to do so. The President must have hoped to make Republicans look like ogres so barely-paying-attention Americans would root for health care’s passage; he failed.
But what does that mean for the prospects of health care reform? Probably very little. Here is what the WSJ’s Kim Strassel says about the effect of the summit and coming political battle to pass a bill.
The Summit Show was designed by Democrats for Democrats, to give Mr. Obama an all-day stage to inspire and exhort his party to charge once more into the health fray. It’s about “altering the political atmospherics,” admitted one senior Democrat. Yet for all the talk of “jump-start,” there’s little to suggest the ugly politics of passage have changed. …
The strategy is somewhat bully for Mr. Reid, who can afford to lose eight of his own members. It’s meaningless for Mrs. Pelosi. If the speaker had the votes post-Brown to pass the Senate bill, we’d be living under ObamaCare. She didn’t have them then, and yesterday’s summit was a sideshow to the problems she has getting them now.
A few numbers: Mrs. Pelosi passed her health-care bill in early November, with three votes to spare. The one Republican yes has since bailed. On the Democratic side, one vote has left Congress, one has died, and one retires this week. A smaller Congress means Mrs. Pelosi only needs 216 votes. If all were equal to November, she’s at 216.
Only it isn’t November. It’s nearly March, and the speaker is being asked to pass a bill vastly different from her own, in the wake of a crushing electoral defeat and in light of dire public-opinion polls.
While it’s heartening that the road looks tough for Pelosi and Reid, no one should take for granted that they can’t put enough pressure on wavering Members to get this done. That’s why those Members need to keep hearing from us to remind them that voters—their real bosses—don’t want this health care bill to become law.