Well, it took less than 24 hours for the Democrats to react to the surprise victory by Republican Scott Brown in Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts.
On Wednesday, President Obama called for a “pared down version’ of the health care bill to be considered. Who has the paring knife and what will be trimmed is still up for debate.
The likely issues to remain in the bill are the inability for insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, an easy slam dunk from both sides, the reshaping of government run plans to feature payment based on quality versus quantity, and allowing children to stay on their parent’s coverage longer.
After that, it is anyone’s guess as to what will remain in the bill.
This move must be considered the safest calculated risk by the Democrats. The election of Brown in a state controlled by Democrats since 1978, a state that President Obama won by 26 points a little over a year ago, must have strategists guessing the willingness to compromise will sit better with the independent base that seems to have switched sides.
How the Democratic base will accept this, however, may be a different situation all together.
Liberals were already outraged by the concessions made by the party with a vast majority in the House and a super majority in the Senate. Long time supporter of health care reform Howard Dean said the current bill was a sellout to the insurance companies, and contended that insurance money won out over national interest.
That base may not take too kindly to yet more concessions.
It is as close to a sure bet as you can get that we will not have a health care bill ready to be signed by the State of the Union speech on the 27th of this month, as originally hoped. How soon we have what’s left of this bill is almost as big a question as what will be left in it.
What will this mean for the personal mandate?
This bill has already been whittled down beyond the point where the personal mandates made any sense. Now that officials are looking for more things to trim to make this legislation “bi-partisan”, let’s hope both sides see the lunacy this mandate represents and cuts it immediately.
It is the opinion of some that how the Democrats progress over the coming month may be every bit as important as what any legislation ultimately looks like. It is clear now they are fighting a populist revolt and need to restore their image in the eyes of those who understand that the best policies, legislation and leaders are neither right or left, but in the center, where stability reigns.
The Democrats seem to have made the first move to the middle. Now the fun begins…..