After President Obama's bipartisan health care summit — seven hours of sometimes wonky, often heated, televised debate — the big question is: What happens next? With Congress still in total deadlock, Obama continues to insist that comprehensive, not incremental, reform is the way to go. (Watch a discussion of Obama's goals for the health care summit.) Commentators offer five scenarios:
1. Democrats will eke out a win through reconciliation: Democrats deciding to use their majority rule in the Senate is "the only way health-care reform will pass," says E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. Harry Reid will have to use the so-called "reconciliation process" to sidestep GOP filibusters and pass a bill with 51 votes, instead of 60. Obama gave this risky move his blessing at the summit after Republicans revealed their intent to block any bill. The path is clear, but will Dems have the "guts" to follow it?
2. The House will pass the Senate bill, as is: People tend to forget this, says The New York Times in an editorial, but "if the House Democrats voted tomorrow to approve" the bill the Senate passed prior to Scott Brown's surprise victory, "health care reform would become the law of the land." It's really that simple: Obama just needs to "push the House to accept the fundamentally sound Senate bill."
3. Health care reform will implode: It looks like it's game over for ObamaCare, says Kim Strassel in The Wall Street Journal. The summit wasn't the "game changer" the Democrats needed, and, whatever the New York Times' editorial board believes, Nancy Pelosi doesn't have the votes to ram the Senate bill through in the House. "Health care reform probably will not get passed this year," agrees David Brooks in The New York Times, but the unexpectedly substantive summit leaves "glimmers of hope for the next" attempt.
4. Bipartisanship will rise from the dead, in the form of a "skinny" bill: Obama will have to use his "Plan B," says Laura Meckler in The Wall Street Journal, a greatly slimmed-down version of health-care reform that covers about half as many uninsured people as Plan A at a quarter of the cost to the government. "We could see the GOP getting behind this" scaled-back approach, says Joe Weisenthal in Business Insider, "though it'd be a huge disappointment to progressives."
5. The parties will duel it out on live TV in the Congressional equivalent of a death match: If Dems attempt reconciliation, the legislative proceedings could easily devolve into a brutal "physical endurance test" on the Senate floor, reports the AP's Alan Fram. Key fact: Even after reaching the 20-hour limit on debate, GOP Senators can still propose amendments to stall the bill. Reconciliation votes "come to an end not because there's a procedure for ending it, but because people ultimately get exhausted," said James Horney, a former Democratic congressional aide. Expect high ratings for C-Span.
SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S COVERAGE OF THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE:
• Obama's health care summit: Live first reactions
• Obama's 11th-hour health care play
• Health care summit: 6 ways to win
• Health care: The post mortem