President Obama will make an announcement sometime next week on what he “believes is the best way forward” on health care reform, the White House said Friday.
“We’ve had many weeks to contemplate where we are,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said…
If the Senate is unable to find any Republican votes for health care, they may use a process called “reconciliation,” which only requires a simple majority, to pass the bill. While the proposal to use reconciliation has been characterized by some as too partisan, Gibbs said that “the notion that somehow health care hasn’t been done this way has been offered up by people but is not accurate.”
I don’t know if I can stand the suspense until next week, so let’s see if we can solve the puzzle now by piecing together some clues. Last night Axelrod told CNN that the American people want majority rule on this. (Which is a lie, natch.) Around the same time, Bernie Sanders was claiming there may be 50 votes in the Senate to pass the public option via reconciliation. This morning, a a senior House leadership source stressed to ABC that, no matter what Ben Nelson may think, a scaled-down bill will not pass the House, which means Reid had better find a way to get Obama’s plan through. And then this afternoon Madam Speaker explicitly called for using a “simple majority” to pass Obama’s bill in the Senate. Given all that, anyone want to inch out on the limb and make a prediction as to what the “way forward” will be?
Don’t despair, though. Per CNN, a lot of House Dems are nervous about passing the Senate bill before Reid proves that he has 51 votes to make reconciliation happen. (“One senior House Democratic leadership aide tells CNN that is ‘the biggest’ obstacle right now in this whole process.”) And there’s always the wild card of Democratic “confusion”! Exit question: In light of how unpopular reconciliation is, why would Obama want to take the heat of being the one to formally declare it the “way forward”? Until now, he’s been content to let Congress take the lead on everything. I assume he thinks either (a) lending presidential authority to it could sway a few wavering Dems or (b) Reid and the Blue Dogs are in such dire straits with the midterms bearing down that he now has to start taking punches on their behalf to protect them. But even so, an uncharacteristic move from a guy who likes to vote present.