The dream of cramming down the Senate version of ObamaCare died as Scott Brown arrived in Washington DC to prepare to enter the Senate as the first Republican from Massachusetts in 38 years, which was both coincidental and providential. Nancy Pelosi announced late this morning that she can’t get the votes necessary to move it to Obama’s desk:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she does not have the votes needed to pass the Senate version of the health care bill.
“I don’t see the votes for it at this time,” Pelosi told reporters in a briefing.
After Democrats lost their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate Tuesday after Republicans won an upset victory in the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy, House passage of the current Senate health bill appeared to be one of few options available for Democrats hoping to complete their year-long quest to pass health reform.
Brown’s arrival in the capital today carried a message that Democrats finally began to comprehend, after dismissing voter anger at town halls for months as meaningless:
Rank-and-file Democrats vented their frustration at a closed-door meeting Thursday. Emerging from the session, Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-N.Y., said: “The mega bills are dead. If we didn’t see what happened Tuesday night, we have blinkers on.”
And now that the blinkers have begun to come off, Democrats realize that most people didn’t consider this a priority in the first place:
Also fueling the Democratic search for a fresh health care strategy is a conviction by many in the party that it’s time for an election-year focus on jobs and the economy, which polls show are easily the public’s top concerns.
“I don’t think we have to wait for health care to be resolved one way or the other before we move to jobs,” said Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa. “We need to put a jobs bill on the table very soon, certainly in the next few weeks.”
This puts an end to the complicated pass-this-now, do-a-modification-later approach that had been floated over the past week as it became apparent that Democrats would lose Massachusetts. It also probably means an end to the reconciliation approach, which could only be used to pass the least popular elements of ObamaCare — Medicare cuts and tax hikes. We’re probably looking more at a Square One approach, and this time the Obama administration may try to draft key Republicans into the talks in order to get bipartisan cover.
Either way, it’s an ignominious defeat for Obama and Pelosi, whose radical approach and “I won” attitude finally caught up with them. Even with massive majorities and a filibuster-proof caucus, they could not jam down a massive government intrusion into the private sector through Congress. They overreached, and now they have been exposed as radicals in the middle of an election year.