Health care reform is wounded, as Democrats seem dazed

At this point, there's obviously no consensus in the Democratic Party ranks.  When one top Senate Democrat was asked if he was copacetic with passing smaller bills, the Hill reports:

The Senate has little interest in drawing out healthcare reform for as long as it would take to debate several bills, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) indicated. “How long will each one take? I don't think we want to do healthcare the next three months,” he said.

There's also substantial disagreement amongst members about the Senate using reconciliation to try to pass some health care legislation with 51 votes, not a filibuster proof 60.

Politico reports that at a meeting of House Democrats yesterday, one Representative expressed serious concerns that their party has screwed up in not communicating the virtues of legislation that they've just spent the last seven months on:

Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano kicked things off by telling colleagues that health care reform wasn’t the only reason Democrat Martha Coakley, who beat him in the primary, lost the general election. Capuano said his party failed to explain to voters what the legislation means for average Americans, saying they should never have passed a 2,000-page bill.

“The health care bill is too complicated, and it looks like too many backroom deals,” Capuano said in an interview with POLITICO. “We need to do a much better job explaining what we are trying to do.”

One thing is for sure.  Not only is President Obama not going to have a health care bill to sign before his State of The Union Address next Wednesday night, but I'm going to safely predict that, unlike every other president I've ever seen at a SOTU speech,  he won't declare, "The State of our union is good," with predictable cheering from the audience.  No, Jon Favreau and the other Obama speechwriters will be working overtime this weekend to have the president sound strong, in this, the weakest point of his year long tenure.

If you read any political news coverage today in some of the leading Washington journals, you can't help but realize that health care reform as presented in the current House and Senate bills appears to be dying, if not dead.

The argument instead for an incremental approach on health care, mentioned by President Obama in his interview with George Stephanopoulous on Wednesday night, seems to be gaining traction with House Democrats, the most liberal group of legislators on the issue.

Don't think so?  Listen to Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus.  The D.C. paper The Hill reports:

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the House Progressive Caucus — which spent months fighting the chamber’s centrists over a government-run “public option” — said that momentum was shifting toward a step-by-step strategy.

And Grijalva said he could support such a strategy “if we have tough insurance reform, if we deal with the donut hole, if we deal with prescription drugs, and if we deal at some point with an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid.”

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