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Does the Democratic leadership know where health reform stands?

Over the past week, top Democrats have been serving health-care reform obsessives a steady stream of quotes on whether they have the votes to pass their bill. Getting this sort of messaging is important. Sound too pessimistic, and those who would otherwise support the bill will abandon what appears to be a failing effort. Sound too optimistic, and fence-sitting lawmakers will wonder why they need to take the political risk to vote for something that the leadership can probably pass without them. But Democratic leaders don’t seem to know quite what to say.

On Sunday, Majority Whip James Clyburn said what most independent whip counts have concluded -- that the Democrats just don’t have the votes yet. Then, Monday night, Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson declared that “the votes are there” to pass the health reform bill. Perhaps something changed? Maybe not: Tuesday afternoon House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sided with Clyburn’s assessment. But here’s the latest from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tries to split the difference but ends up sounding perhaps a little too reassuring: “When we bring the bill to the floor, we will have the votes.” That echoes White House spokesman Robert Gibbs’s Sunday-morning assessment: “I think whoever sits here this time next week, you all will be talking about health-care reform not as a presidential proposal, but as something that will soon be the law of the land.”

These confusing glimpses into the legislative backroom indicate one of two things. Either the Democratic leadership knows more than we do, wants to keep it that way and is handling its messaging poorly. Or the leadership doesn’t know exactly where it stands and is handling its messaging poorly.

The smart money is on the latter. Folks around town are stating as though it were gospel that Pelosi won’t bring the bill to a vote unless she knows she has the votes. But she did just the opposite the first time she tried -- and failed -- to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program under the gun in Sept., 2008. I’m not so sure she will have firm numbers by the time the House convenes to vote. Which should make for some exciting C-Span watching.

By Stephen Stromberg  | March 16, 2010; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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Obama was the FIRST to cut a back room deal on this monster and he did it with the DRUG companies! READ

With all the back room deals, this thing stinks and needs to be KILLED.

Posted by: N369RM | March 16, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

If this 2700 page sellout to the health care industry becomes the Presidents health care legacy it will be the lowest point in political treachery in our country’s history.

Passing this 2700 page bill with tweaking will not lower ever increasing costs nor will it cure the historic sins and unacceptable insurance practices of jacking up premiums, withholding or denying care, bankrupting, and killing patients.

Harsh words about health insurers said by the President will not change the facts that; this bill is a money machine for insurance companies and health care providers, and a financial disaster for consumers, employers, and taxpayers.

This bill was crafted and paid for by the healthcare industry, $600,000,000. reported so far, to yield obscene profits for them while bleeding the life blood out of helpless victims.

Were there illegal payments and deals made to facilitate these unfair schemes?

Real Public Option reforms which would save lives and save as much as a trillion dollars annually have been kept out of the health care debate by the President, Democrats, and Republicans.

Were crimes committed doing this?

If crimes are discovered, when we are able to investigate how our political process sunk so low as to allow this assault upon our families’ health and finances, we must vow to hunt down every perpetrator until each is brought to justice.

These are dastardly crimes against humanity and everyone found guilty should be forever unforgiven and forced to pay harsh consequences for their treachery.

Posted by: BillWatson1 | March 17, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we need to see the votes. But before we see the votes for this flawed sell out to big insurance and big pharma, let's see the votes for "Medicare for all" or a robust public option. At least then the people would know who really stands with them and who stands with the campaign contributors.

Whether or not you agree with the "Tea Party", they have a point - no one in Washington is listening to the people. The Republicans have ignored the people for 30 years, ever since the election of St. Ronald of Reagan; Obama, under Rahm's gentle hand, forgot who elected him the day after the election. The people are angry and they will be heard at the ballot box if no where else. The first shots across their bow came yesterday in primaries and caucuses nationwide - incumbents or those chosen by Washington insiders are in trouble, and unless both parties start to act like grownups and serve their consitutents, rather than the lobbyists, it will simply get worse.

Posted by: pblotto | March 17, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

This bill stinks like last weeks fish.

Posted by: Obamasnotyamama | March 17, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Kathleen Parker asked (paraphrased): If this Bill is so good for America why aren't the Democrats PROUDLY voting for it instead of running away from a vote?

She does have a point there.

Posted by: dmedman50 | March 17, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

By a 12 point margin, those asked, in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, called “Barack Obama’s health care plan” a “bad idea” (48 percent) over a “good idea” (36 percent.)

Congress works for us.

Does it matter what the democrats think? What part of that poll don't they understand?

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