A key Democratic senator says he believes Democrats are close to the 60 votes they need to advance a health care bill that includes a new program for government-backed health insurance.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York says he thinks a public option plan will be in the Senate bill.
What's unclear is what has changed between now and the last week, the last month, and the entire health care debate. The same Democratic leadership that got embarrassed last week with the vote over the doctor fix is now claiming they are on the verge of having sixty votes for health care reform.
The doctor fix, which was only going to stop the cutback in Medicare to doctors, was a relatively simple bill. The main problem was the price tag, $247 billion over ten years. The Democratic leadership simply wanted to add that to the debt and deficit. Members of the Democratic wound up killing that bill when 13 of them crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans.
Now, we're supposed to believe that the same Democratic leadership is now on the verge of securing not only 60 votes but 60 votes and the public option. That's quite a trick. After all, Olympia Snowe said she wouldn't vote for such a plan. Ben Nelson is quesy. Joe Liberman is quesy of the whole process. No Republican will vote for it. So, am I missing something or are sixty votes simply not there?
That's exactly what George Will said this weekend.
Arguably to a collaborative media. That is although they cannot identify a single Republican vote as Al [Hunt] demonstrated in his interview with Olympia Snowe, the Democratic leaders have said, "We've got the votes." Now that means they're gonna get the votes of Evan Bayh of Indiana, Ben Nelson of Florida, of Sen. Nelson of Nebraska, which is to say they're not going to lose a single, so-called moderate Democrat. I think there is, they're cleverly and skillfully manufacturing a sense of inevitability that they hope will be self-fulfilling. I'm still dubious.
I am dubious as well. The same Senate leader, Harry Reid, that couldn't get 50 votes, let alone 60 votes, for the doctor fix is now close to a full overhaul of health care reform. In fact, this appears to be a lot of public relations. Democrats want the public, and most of their own caucus, to believe that we're all on the verge of getting things down. That, as George Will suggested, will create a sense of inevitability.
This thing isn't inevitable. In fact, nothing has been settled. None of the major issues have been settled. The costs, the details, and the size and scope, have NOT been settled. Chuck Schumer can go on every television station and claim they have but it won't change reality. The Democrats can proclaim to being near done, they can even produce a bill, but that doesn't mean they have the votes to pass it. They've never had the votes to pass it. Nothing has changed no matter how confident Chuck Schumer is.