Politico tells us healthcare reform is in “real jeopardy.” Business groups, Republicans, hospitals and the A.M.A. are finally all on board — but to oppose ObamaCare, not support it. The CBO cost estimate is dubbed a “public relations nightmare.” Yes, the cat is out of the bag — this will cost a boatload and the public is already squeamish about spending. It turns out that those dog-and-pony shows were, well, just shows:
For most of this year, it has appeared that Obama and business interests were searching for common ground. But this was always somewhat of a charade. It was in the political self-interest of Obama and the business community to go through the motions of working together—even while reserving the option to go to war. As details have emerged, business groups that had sounded supportive are suddenly openly critical, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce referring to the Senate health committee blueprint as “a dangerous proposal” in an e-mail to members.
Now even Rep. Jim Cooper, who saw healthcare reform go up in smoke under Bill Clinton, is worried — and talking out of school:
[W]e are explicitly told not to work with Republicans.
Now, my personal belief is that Congress could begin marking up the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett Healthy Americans Act right away. Smart commentators like Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic and Ezra Klein at the Washington Post have praised this bill. It’s progressive, it’s bipartisan and it’s deficit-neutral.
All I know is that health care reform is on life support because the Senate can’t figure out how to pay for it. Jon Cohn and Ezra Klein are worried. I’m worried. And I’m speaking out today because I’ve been through a failed health care reform process before. We can’t afford to repeat those mistakes this year. Let’s follow President Obama’s lead and work together to finally provide health care to every American. And let’s do it right now.
When you have Nancy Pelosi saying the public option must be in the bill to be passed while moderate and conservative Democrats and every Republican say it can’t be, plus a bad case of sticker shock gripping Congress, I would say Cooper is right to be worried.