Health Care Reform: Dead?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 24, 2009

Joe Lieberman probably has not done himself any favors amongst Democrats, but he is stating that comprehensive health care reform is not going to take place this year:

Pushing a health-care reform package through Congress without significant Republican support would be “a real mistake” for President Barack Obama, Sen. Joseph Lieberman warned Sunday.

Lieberman, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, said trying to “jam through” a package “that the public is either opposed to, or of very, very passionate mixed minds about” would be bad “for the system.”

He added, “Frankly, it won’t be good for the Obama presidency.”

“He has got other fights to fight,” the senator from Connecticut told CNN’s “State of the Union,” citing climate change, financial regulatory reform, and the war in Afghanistan.

Other Democrats are threatening to steamroll Republicans with the reconciliation process. However, Senators like Arlen Specter and Kent Conrad are clearly out of love with the idea, and to the extent that Robert Byrd can overcome illnesses to get to the floor and make his voice heard, he will probably weigh in against the use of the reconciliation process as well. One would not expect anything less from the author of the Byrd Rule.

Is it possible that the Democrats will take the reconciliation route? Sure. But it seems less likely, given the many fissures that have developed in the Democratic camp concerning health care reform. And given the degree to which reconciliation would infuriate a suddenly-united Republican party, I have to think that the Democrats are turning cold to the reconciliation idea. If so, that means Lieberman has called the political situation just about right.

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