Out: Deem and Pass; In: Executive Order on abortion

Health care reform is like a bad Norse Saga - excruciatingly endless, filled with the names of people we're not familiar with, and ultimately doomed to tragedy.

Witness the chaos in the House Rules Committee where the Democrats decided that the price to be paid for "deem and pass" was just too great and will have an up and down vote on both the senate bill and the reconciliation package of fixes.

Though the maneuver has been commonly used in the House, including by Republicans to advance their own favored policies, the idea attracted widespread criticism, and prompted Republicans to accuse House Democrats of trying to avoid taking responsibility for the Senate package. The $875 billion measure contains many politically contentious provisions, including a special deal that would provide extra Medicaid funding to Nebraska that was added to win the vote of Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D). The deal, known as the Cornhusker Kickback, would be stripped out in the package of revisions that the House now plans to approve first.

Van Hollen said Democrats still maintain that deeming the Senate bill passed would have been appropriate and perfectly legal. But, he said, "there was no reason to allow the misinformation campaign to continue. Despite the fact that Republicans used it, we wanted to make the process absolutely clear."

Are the Democrats so confident of having the votes to pass Obamacare that they can now allow an up or down vote? 

The answer to that is yes, if they are able to peel away the Stupak bloc and turn them into a "yes" vote. And it appears that Obama has hit upon the right idea to do that; an executive order reaffirming that no dollars in the bill would go toward funding abortions :

Both Left and Right are hearing rumors that the Dems are drafting an executive order to quell pro-life Democrat opposition to the government health care takeover plan.

Daniel Foster reports the buzz at NRO. Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic tweets it here.

If Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak and his pro-life colleagues are feckless enough to sign on to the nationalization of 1/6 of the American economy and the bottomless generational debt it will incur for another worthless Obama promise and empty scrap of paper, God help us all.

Stupak may be "standing on principle" when it comes to abortion but he also supports the general idea of government health care. As I mentioned this morning, it's also true that he and his colleagues don't want to be blamed if Obamacare goes down to defeat. Even if Stupak refuses the fig leaf offered by Obama, it is likely most of the others in his group will leap at the chance to get out from under the burden of standing in the way of their party and president.

So where are we in the vote? At Obama's appearance before the Democratic House caucus, everyone seemed serenely confident, promising a vote tomorrow and that they have the bodies to pass it. More bluffing? Probably. Firedoglake is still showing a large deficit for Pelosi to overcome. They still show that Pelosi has to virtually run the table of undecideds to  reach 216. But if the Stupak bloc defects en mass, it will become much easier in that she'll only need 2 or 3 undecideds  to cross the finish line.

We'll see where we are at noon tomorrow.