Ezra Klein has an important reminder in today’s Washington Post that the health care bill is far from dead. He writes:
“Ironing out the policy particulars [of the health-care bill] is not a real obstacle,” sighs one tired Senate aide. “We were pretty much there before Massachusetts. We pretty much had an agreement. We know where we’ll end up. The issue is the process.”
This is what pretty much every Hill office tells me: The health-care holdup is not policy. It’s process.
So what can the summit do? Well, somehow or other, it’s got to leave Democrats confident enough to push this into the end zone. The Hill feels it’s doing its part. Democrats expect to have a compromise proposal ready in time for the summit. “I have a quiet confidence we’ll be able to bridge our differences,” says Jim Manley, spokesman for Harry Reid. “There’s been a lot more talk behind the scenes than people realize. It’s an awful lot of work for a bill that’s supposedly not going anywhere.”
While Klein explains that the Democrats are focused on showing the public that the Republicans aren’t negotiating in good faith and just want the bill dead, he overlooks the biggest problem confronting Democrats: The public wants the bill dead too!
Sure, the public likes the idea of bipartisanship and wants to see our policymakers behaving civilly, but they also want to see the end of the Democrats’ monstrous bill that would destroy the U.S. health care system. And it’s not Republicans that Democrats have to worry about—it’s their own Members who know that they’ll pay a big price if they force feed the public a bill that an overwhelming majority soundly reject.
Yet Klein’s warning is one that the public should take seriously: Democrats are still fixated on passing their health care reform bill. It will take real vigilance to keep them doing so before November.