For Obama, Progress on the Hill and Slippage in the Polls
By Ben Pershing
In the remaining days before Congress leaves town, what would constitute victory for President Obama on health care? Obama's original goal -- passage in both chambers by Aug. 7 -- slipped by the wayside long ago. But his signature initiative moved measurably toward reality Wednesday, and there is now a real prospect that by the time recess begins, five different congressional committees will have passed reform bills ready for floor action in the fall.
The Senate Finance Committee announced Wednesday that a draft of its health measure would cost less than $900 billion, while the House Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled a deal designed to bring the Blue Dogs on board. Several of the headlines this morning focus on liberal discomfort with the House bill. But many of those stories highlight complaints from liberal lawmakers who aren't actually on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and at this moment, that panel is all that matters in the chamber. As long as leaders can get a bill passed through committee, they'll have more than a month to figure out how to mollify liberals before the measure hits the floor.
The good news for Obama on the Hill comes as a new round of polls paints a more sobering picture of his standing outside the Beltway.
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