For Democrats, it's do or die

The legislative machinery is in place and the GOP opposition is irrelevant. Only Democrats can prevent health reform from passing now.

Robert Shrum

The Republicans were appalled, outraged, aghast—and running out of means to describe their horror, indignation, and righteous anger. It seems the president, after a year of trying to induce the Party of No to say “yes” to something, finally called for an up or down vote on health care. Majority rule in a democracy—oh the shame of it! Although, come to think of it, the 2000 election showed the GOP is only too happy to dispose of the concept when politically convenient.

The Republican opposition to reconciliation—passing the health bill without facing a filibuster—is transparently cynical for a party that has used the process, from Reagan to Bush II, to reshape the tax code and redefine the role of the federal government, which, unlike health care, constitutes not one-sixth but close to one-quarter of the entire economy.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.