Feature

Is Obamacare really dead?

As Massachusetts victor Scott Brown threatens to derail health care reform, Democrats are scrambling to save it

Last month Obama appeared to have won an epic battle to reform and expand America's health care system — a victory that's slipping away after Scott Brown's remarkable upset in Massachusetts gave Republicans enough Senate votes (41) to potentially filibuster the bill's final passage. With his legacy hanging in the balance, Obama faces difficult questions: Will Brown's victory really kill the current health-care reform bill — and what's the best way to save it? (Watch a Fox report about the state of health-care reform)

Health reform is D.O.A.: It didn't take a genius to figure out that "ramming through an unpopular health care bill on a party-line vote" would cost the Democrats dearly, says Megan McArdle at the Atlantic, "and it has." None of the Dems' theoretical next moves — passing the bill before seating Brown, forcing the House to accept the Senate version, or passing it through special parlimentary rules — are politically realistic. "It's dead.""Will health care survive Brown's upset victory?"

On the contrary, this gives Dems a chance to make the bill more liberal: Giving up on health care reform now would make Dems look spineless and contemptable. says Jane Hamsher at Huffington Post. The good news: By using a procedural process called "reconciliation" to sidestep the 60 vote requirement (now that they have only 59), they can restore the "public option" and pass a bill liberals can love."Dear President Obama"

The worst thing Dems can do is make the bill more liberal: The Brown victory proves that a left-leaning health reform agenda has been a "catastrophe" for the party, says Sen. Evan Bayh (D - IN), as quoted by ABC News. My fellow Democrats must accept a more "moderate" solution on health care and ignore attempts by the far-left fringe "to impose their will on the rest of the country.""Bayh warns of 'catastrophe'..."

Save it by breaking it up into a bunch of little bills: Last night's election makes it clear that Democrats should try to pass health care reform as "a series of of small bills" rather than one big one, says Rep. Bill Delahunt (D - MA), speaking on MSNBC. Focusing on specific, understandable issues popular with the American people is much more likely to generate a "bipartisan vote.""Dem rep: Let's carve up health care reform"

A piecemeal approach would kill it for real: "Breaking up the bill" would be a disaster unless you're willing to accept some "almost unrecognizable" variety of health reform, says Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic. No, the Dems should stick with one big bill and "move quickly" to get it passed. Sound impossible? Keep in mind that this hubbub is all over "one lousy, stinking roll-call vote. That's the only hurdle in the way of health care reform.""Breaking up is hard to do"

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SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST ON THE HEALTH CARE DEBATEHealth reform: unwise, not unconstitutionalThe trillion-dollar tedium of health reformBuying health-care reform votesThe GOP's big health-care 'blunder'
15 best health-care jokes of 2009

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