Senate Republicans refuse to climb aboard the Obamacare train
With Olympia Snowe's refusal to back the Baucus compromise bill in the senate, the Democrats are now left with the prospect of going forward on health care reform without a single Republican who supports the idea - for now.
Alexander Bolton and Jeffrey Young reporting for The Hill:
Senate Democrats are going to have to move forward on healthcare without a single Republican supporter after Sen. Olympia Snowe said Tuesday she could not back the Finance Committee's bill.
Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) failed to win any Republican backer despite weeks of intense negotiations behind closed doors to strike a deal.Snowe (Maine), who was one of three Republicans who backed the $787 billion economic stimulus package, was being lobbied heavily by the White House, and some centrists view her refusal to strike a deal with Baucus as troubling. But concerns about how the plan would be paid for prompted her to back away in the hours before its release.
"I do have concerns and I'm not sure they can be addressed before he issues [legislation] tomorrow," Snowe said.
Faced with the prospect of having to pass legislation without Republican votes, Obama's chief political adviser David Axelrod met with Senate and House Democrats on Tuesday to stress the importance of party unity on healthcare reform - a message most directly aimed at centrists who now are critical to its passage.
This is not a good sign for Obama and the Democrats. It's not that Republican votes mattered so much, but the fact that no one in either party believes the president when he says he won't sign a reform bill that adds to the deficit.
It also shows that the moderates of both parties can't pass their own version of reform, but they can kill anything put up by the liberals.
The Baucus plan was nearly dead anyway. Several liberal senators wanted no truck with the package that included health insurance co-ops rather than a public option. It also had too many free market reforms for the tastes of the lefties - which is, one more than zero.
Where is health care reform now? Liberals will now get behind HR 3200 and try to use brute force to ram it through the House and the Senate with very few changes. They will be forced to use the reconciliation process in the senate which means no filibuster, just a straight majority needed for passage.
As it stands now, Obama would need a half dozen or so Blue Dogs on board to get the bill through the House. The senate is very iffy but it appears that Obama would need to convince 3 or 4 moderates to get with the senate program - more if numbers can't be firmed up on how much this monstrosity will really cost.
In short, Obama's version of health care reform with a strong public option and all the trimmings will probably get an up or down vote in the House and is moving in that direction in the senate. There will be a lot of arm twisting, but in the end, it will be very hard to stop the Democrats if they come together.