Democrats cancel 2nd Obamacare markup meeting

Make that two in a row that Democrats have ducked, reports Jake Tapper for ABC News.  Energy and Commerce had scheduled two meetings for HR3200 this week, the ObamaCare bill that Barack Obama insisted on getting before the August recess.  The cancellation, made late last night, shows that the health-care reform project may have run aground:

At 5:54 pm ET the news came: “The Energy and Commerce Markup of H.R. 3200 – America’s Affordable Health Choices Act for 7-22-09 has been CANCELLED.”

Not a good sign for the Democrats trying to report the bill out from committee onto the floor for a vote. Seven conservative blue dog Democrats on the committee have said they can’t vote for the bill in its current form. Some of those Blue Dogs came to the White House today for a 2 1/2 meeting, an hour of which was with President Obama. …

The White House expressed irritation at Republican obstructionism and “playing politics,” but Republicans countered that it’s unfair to blame them — pointing to the substantial majorities Democrats have in the House and Senate.

“If the bill fails,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, “it will be because of disagreement among the Democrats.”

It also may be because of Obama himself.  He has conducted a highly-public campaign for passage of the bill, but has shown little knowledge of its contents.  Combine that with the failure of Obama’s other rush product, Porkulus, and the conditions for considerable skepticism are in place.

Obama seems to forget that Democrats have constituents to whom they must answer, many of them in the next 15 months.  Not all Democrats represent coastal liberal states and districts, and they can’t go home and argue for socialized medicine as easily as Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer.  They have one eye on Obama’s polling and see how dangerous it will be for them to climb out on that limb while the voters try to saw it off.

The seating of Al Franken gives the Republicans a little ironic cover for this position.  With 60 votes, Democrats can pass anything they want in the Senate, and their wide majority in the House makes it even more easy for Obama to control the agenda.  Whining about Republican obstructionism now is akin to complaining about taxes on a lottery jackpot; it’s insulting to the intelligence.

Tapper reports that the White House has backed away from the August deadline, but that’s just a nod to reality.  If Democrats can’t even hold a committee hearing on the issue, deadlines for full passage are moot.

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