Is Obamacare dead in the water?
This gorgon of a bill isn't dead - not by a long shot. But it has been stalled by the inability of Democrats to come together and pass it.
Blue dogs are beginning to talk with Republicans about overhauling the entire bill. Liberals think it isn't going far enough and will vote against any bill that doesn't have a public option.. Fiscally responsible members are terrified of adding to the deficit. And even the president has acknowledged that his deadline of getting it done before the August recess may be impossible.
I might add that there is precious little from the White House except speechmaking. This president doesn't know how to govern. He has handed responsibility for getting this bill passed to Pelosi and Reid while he stands on the sidelines kibbitzing.
Bottom line: No one is in charge. Committee chairmen have their own ideas about what should be in the bill while Blue Dogs and liberals are rejecting their formulations and want to substitute massively.
Here's Jennifer Rubin this morning in PJ Media:
"Back to the drawing board," announced Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on health care reform. Indeed, it seems that in one short week, the single most important item on the president's agenda is in need of some critical care.
The president rushed to the microphone on Friday afternoon to assure the country the patient was fine, just undergoing some expected surgery and far from terminal. Absent was any mention of his August deadline, however. He appeared miffed at "Washington" and the "24-hour news cycle." He took no questions, likely because he had few answers to the hard queries. (Why is his own party in revolt? Why would he raise taxes on small businesses? Why don't people like the idea of a "public option" as much as they did a few months ago?) Despite Obama's lecture and show of bravado ("this is going to happen"), all signs pointed to the demise of the House Democrats' trillion dollar, soak-the-rich public option scheme. And it is far from clear what replacement plan might be offered.
Revolts are breaking out all over the place and both Reid and Pelosi are incapable of putting out the fires. Again, it should be stressed that Democrats are waking up to the fact that they have a pretty damned ineffective president - one who doesn't lead and is beginning to sound like something of a whiner.
Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie writing in the Washington Post , actually use the "C" word to describe Obama:
From a lousy cap-and-trade bill awaiting death in the Senate to a health-care reform agenda already weak in the knees to the failure of the stimulus to deliver promised jobs and economic activity, what once looked like a hope-tastic juggernaut is showing all the horsepower of a Chevy Cobalt. "Give it to me!" the president egged on a Michigan audience last week, pledging to "solve problems" and not "gripe" about the economic hand he was dealt.
Despite such bravura, Obama must be furtively reviewing the history of recent Democratic administrations for some kind of road map out of his post-100-days ditch.
So far, he seems to be skipping the chapter on Bill Clinton and his generally free-market economic policies and instead flipping back to the themes and comportment of Jimmy Carter. Like the 39th president, Obama has inherited an awful economy, dizzying budget deficits and a geopolitical situation as promising as Kim Jong Il's health. Like Carter, Obama is smart, moralistic and enamored of alternative energy schemes that were nonstarters back when America's best-known peanut farmer was installing solar panels at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Like Carter, Obama faces as much effective opposition from his own party's left wing as he does from an ardent but diminished GOP.
Carter never had a clue about how to govern in Washington and neither does Obama - something many of us warned about before the election. Anyone with an ounce of sense knew his grandiose promises about changing the way Washington does business were as empty as Harry Reid's head. It wasn't just his inexperience. It was his rhetoric being incapable of matching reality that was most telling.
And now, Obama has dropped any mention of passing a health care bill before the August recess. What will emerge after Labor Day may be nothing like what is being talked about today - scaled back, no public option, a bigger smal business exemption, and no real reform of Medicare. Instead, look for expanding Medicaid and S-Chip at the state level to cover the uninsured and perhaps some fiddling with Medicare payments.
In that form, it has a chance of passing with GOP help. But unless Obama can pull off a miracle, his big plans for health care reform are going to become as extinct as the dinosaurs.