Democrats Descend Into Brawl Over Health Care
With just days remaining to prove that they can meet a self-imposed Christmas deadline and pass President Barack Obama's signature initiative through the Senate, Democrats seeking a rendezvous with history instead detoured to an intraparty brawl.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was poised to release the latest version of the Senate legislation as early as Friday, but it was unclear what kind of reception he'd get. Labor leaders said the bill was soft on the insurance industry, and former party chairman Howard Dean said he'd vote against it if he were a senator.
All eyes were on the only known Democratic holdout, moderate Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, whose primary concern is that abortion funding restrictions in the bill were too lax. Nelson indicated Thursday he still was not happy but would keep talking with Reid, who needs 60 votes to push through Republican opposition.
Liberals are furious over the compromises Reid had to make to keep the bill alive. Gone is a government insurance plan modeled on Medicare. So is the fallback, the option of allowing aging baby boomers to buy into Medicare. The major benefits of the bill won't start for three or four years, and then they'll be delivered through private insurance companies.
The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, and the Service Employees International Union both expressed deep disappointment. The Senate bill includes a tax on high-cost insurance plans that unions fear will hurt their members.
This is the nightmare that won't end for Democrats.
The one saving grace they thought they had was that if they could not pass health care reform, they could dump the blame on Republicans.
Problem is they are their own worst enemy, and worse, it's a public fight.
Health care could be the final nail in their 2010 mid term election coffin.
The economy and deficit were going to be killers so I think a lot of the swing or right of center seats they hold were already gone.
With the health care debate though, there may not be a win salvageable.
They are publicly embarrassing themselves with the steady string of concessions and bribes for votes.
Now the bill they pass will be so devoid of far left causes they may lose their base. They will likely wind up with a bill that will not have either tax-payer funded abortions or a public option, the dual Holy Grails for the left.
There was great hope on the left that their time had finally come with both the most liberal President ever and the most far left Congressional leadership, at least in modern times.
This group can't pass abortion funding. They can't push through a takeover of health insurance. We will stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. We are sending more troops to Afghanistan. We haven't taxed the rich into poverty yet. The Homeland Security Director is even starting to use the word terrorism again.
Imagine the disappointment.
The Dems could go to the polls next year with conservatives fired up, independents having lost any trust in both them and Obama, and the left being disappointed and deflated.
2010 may be a rough year for Dems.