Health reform: Suicide for Dems?

Nancy Pelosi thinks she has the votes for passing the health care bill. Lamar Alexander calls it a "kamikaze mission" for Democrats

As Congress prepares for a final showdown on health care reform, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident she can muster enough votes to pass a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill. But absent a bipartisan breakthrough, Democrats will likely have to resort to a parliamentary process known as budget reconciliation to get around a Republican filibuster in the Senate. According to GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, given tepid public support for the bill, doing so amounts to a "political kamikaze mission." Pelosi says Democrats should vote for reform even if it could cost them re-election. Would passing health-care reform through reconciliation really be political suicide for Dems? (Watch THE WEEK's Sunday Talk Show Briefing about the war over health care)

Funny, the GOP didn't call reconciliation suicidal when they did it: Lamar Alexander is being "dishonest," says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. "Reconciliation has been used, legitimately, to pass everything from welfare reform" to some of the Bush tax cuts. Passing health reform won't be a kamikaze mission for Democrats — in fact, "there will be no consequences" at all.

"Lamar and 'the end of the United States Senate'"

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Look, the Democrats are imploding: Even if Democrats steamroll the Republicans, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, they still have to work out a compromise among themselves. That could take weeks, even months, dragging debate over this unpopular bill into the middle of the midterm election campaign. "It’s a disaster for Democrats, the worst of all possible worlds."

"Conrad: Reconciliation won't work for ObamaCare"

Health reform will be judged by the results, not the process: Sure, using the budget reconciliation process is risky, says Julian E. Zelizer in, because it might look heavy-handed and scare off independent voters in November. But once health reform is in place people won't care about filibusters and budget reconciliation. They'll judge reform on whether it does them any good.

"Time for Democrats to take a risk"

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