Is health care reform really in big trouble?

Stories all over the net today on troubles for Obamacare that either show that a crash and burn scenario on health care is in the offing, or the press is overplaying the confusion and opposition to some elements of reform among Democrats to gin up interest.

It's probably a little of both. Surely, there are a lot of Democrats who are balking at many aspects of the reform elements being presented. Everything from individual mandates, to the public option, to how this monster is going to be paid for.

But at the same time, as AT's political correspondent Rich Baehr said on my show last night, Obama is basically fighting for the relevancy of his presidency with this effort and he will bend, break, and twist arms in a push to get it done. He needs some kind of health care or will be severely crippled.

But he may have already lost many of the Blue Dogs in his own party as Jake Tapper points out at the ABC New blog:

At 5:54 pm ET the news came: "The Energy and Commerce Markup of H.R. 3200 - America's Affordable Health Choices Act for 7-22-09 has been CANCELLED.

Not a good sign for the Democrats trying to report the bill out from committee onto the floor for a vote. Seven conservative blue dog Democrats on the committee have said they can't vote for the bill in its current form. Some of those Blue Dogs came to the White House today for a 2 1/2 meeting, an hour of which was with President Obama.

On the last nine days the president has spoken publicly about health care reform nine times. Tomorrow night, in a prime time press conference, will make it 10 times in 10 days. But despite this push it seemed less likely today that Democrats would be able to come together to agree on an actual bill

The White House expressed irritation at Republican obstructionism and "playing politics," but Republicans countered that it's unfair to blame them -- pointing to the substantial majorities Democrats have in the House and Senate.

"If the bill fails," said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, "it will be because of disagreement among the Democrats."

White House officials have backed off the August deadline, and now say the deadline was a way to poke and prod Congress to act.

That meeting resulted in a "tentative agreement on costs" according to Politico's Patrick O'Connor:

Moderate House Democrats and a key committee chairman emerged from a three-hour meeting at the White House on Tuesday with a tentative agreement to give an outside panel - rather than Congress - the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs.

OMB Director Peter Orszag called it "probably the most important piece that can be added" to the health care bill in the House, and the deal between the Blue Dog Coalition and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) was the first positive development Democratic Party leaders could claim since the American Medical Association endorsed their bill last week.

But the arcane-to-the-outside development is a pint-sized breakthrough in an ocean of concern. It's also a concession to one subgroup - the Blue Dogs - that's likely to inflame others.


And not all Blue Dogs would go for the compromise anyway. Many are still balking at the public option. Others are worried about a mandate that would require almost all business - even those with as few as 9 employees - to give health insurance to their workers. There is still more concern among rural members who don't like the changes in Medicare payments.

All of this sounds like health care reform is in trouble. And it is. Except the president is still the president and has at his disposal enormous powers that can make life very difficult for a member of his own party. Couple this with the desperation of the White House to get something passed and you just can't count Obama out yet. It's slipping away but he still has a chance to recover.













Stories all over the net today on troubles for Obamacare that either show that a crash and burn scenario on health care is in the offing, or the press is overplaying the confusion and opposition to some elements of reform among Democrats to gin up interest.

It's probably a little of both. Surely, there are a lot of Democrats who are balking at many aspects of the reform elements being presented. Everything from individual mandates, to the public option, to how this monster is going to be paid for.

But at the same time, as AT's political correspondent Rich Baehr said on my show last night, Obama is basically fighting for the relevancy of his presidency with this effort and he will bend, break, and twist arms in a push to get it done. He needs some kind of health care or will be severely crippled.

But he may have already lost many of the Blue Dogs in his own party as Jake Tapper points out at the ABC New blog:

At 5:54 pm ET the news came: "The Energy and Commerce Markup of H.R. 3200 - America's Affordable Health Choices Act for 7-22-09 has been CANCELLED.

Not a good sign for the Democrats trying to report the bill out from committee onto the floor for a vote. Seven conservative blue dog Democrats on the committee have said they can't vote for the bill in its current form. Some of those Blue Dogs came to the White House today for a 2 1/2 meeting, an hour of which was with President Obama.

On the last nine days the president has spoken publicly about health care reform nine times. Tomorrow night, in a prime time press conference, will make it 10 times in 10 days. But despite this push it seemed less likely today that Democrats would be able to come together to agree on an actual bill

The White House expressed irritation at Republican obstructionism and "playing politics," but Republicans countered that it's unfair to blame them -- pointing to the substantial majorities Democrats have in the House and Senate.

"If the bill fails," said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, "it will be because of disagreement among the Democrats."

White House officials have backed off the August deadline, and now say the deadline was a way to poke and prod Congress to act.

That meeting resulted in a "tentative agreement on costs" according to Politico's Patrick O'Connor:

Moderate House Democrats and a key committee chairman emerged from a three-hour meeting at the White House on Tuesday with a tentative agreement to give an outside panel - rather than Congress - the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs.

OMB Director Peter Orszag called it "probably the most important piece that can be added" to the health care bill in the House, and the deal between the Blue Dog Coalition and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) was the first positive development Democratic Party leaders could claim since the American Medical Association endorsed their bill last week.

But the arcane-to-the-outside development is a pint-sized breakthrough in an ocean of concern. It's also a concession to one subgroup - the Blue Dogs - that's likely to inflame others.


And not all Blue Dogs would go for the compromise anyway. Many are still balking at the public option. Others are worried about a mandate that would require almost all business - even those with as few as 9 employees - to give health insurance to their workers. There is still more concern among rural members who don't like the changes in Medicare payments.

All of this sounds like health care reform is in trouble. And it is. Except the president is still the president and has at his disposal enormous powers that can make life very difficult for a member of his own party. Couple this with the desperation of the White House to get something passed and you just can't count Obama out yet. It's slipping away but he still has a chance to recover.