It’s not like it’s a big surprise, but Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi, two of the Republican senators who had been touted by President Obama for trying to reach a compromise on healthcare reform, have bailed out and Mr. Grassley is now campaigning (in other words, begging for money) against “Obamacare.”
The White House can now stop beating its head against the wall in their effort to write a bipartisan bill, and they can now safely claim that they did everything they could to get a deal worked out. Now they can go ahead with whatever they want and force it through the Senate through whatever means it takes and let the Republicans whine and carry on about socialism and the evils of fluoridated water or whatever.
The problem now is getting the Democrats to go along with it. Joe Klein sees that as not being insurmountable.
There are still some real problems the legislation is facing, especially if the rougher edges of the House bill–insufficient attention to cost controls, the public option–aren’t sanded down. More than a few Democratic Senators and Representatives are going to have to summon a bit of courage to vote for any form of health reform, especially those from moderate to conservative states (like Arkansas where 55% prefer Rush Limbaugh’s vision of America to Barack Obama’s, according to a recent poll). But it should be possible to find a more plausible funding source now, like the President’s wise proposal that tax deductions for the wealthy be limited to the same rate as paid by the middle class. My guess is that the final bill will enable the Democratic caucus to be fairly united on this, and that a few Republicans will join in–and that we will have health care reform this year. It is liberating, however, to finally shed the dead weight of Grassley’s know-nothingism and cowardice.
It does put the GOP in the rather uncomfortable position of having to defend the indefensible such as the gun-toters and the deathers so that whatever the Democrats come up with will sound reasonable in comparison. So my guess is that President Obama knew all along that this would happen and that he’s be playing them very well by letting them have their tantrums and loopy YouTube moments (thanks, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin) so that the rest of us could see just how nutsy these people can get.