The Hill reports:
As Democrats in Congress struggle with a healthcare bill, Democrats running for office are treating it as a political hot potato.
Few Democrats in big races are jumping headlong into supporting the healthcare bill the House passed last weekend. While those running in blue areas or in tough Democratic primaries quibble with its abortion-funding restrictions, those running in red areas worry about the cost of the package.
Has anyone told Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi? They, of course, are operating under the premise that it’s political death for the Democrats to do nothing; fellow Democrats, however, who are facing the wrath of voters see things differently. Democratic candidates are “expressing reservations” or “keeping their powder dry.” They like health-care reform in theory, but few are jumping on the bandwagon. So what then is a Democrat in the Senate or House who doesn’t have a slam-dunk election less than a year from now to do?
We’ve been told for months that health care was building momentum, that with each vote or procedural hurdle we were getting closer to passage of ObamaCare. But is that right? There’s been no rush to embrace it. Quite the opposite. Voters remain opposed to a government takeover of health care and are getting more skeptical of the notion that this is government’s responsibility. As Fred Barnes notes:
What if an undecided Democratic senator, in a private chat with the president, asks about the public’s distaste for liberal health care reform? “Mr. President, how will it help you and Democrats to pass an unpopular bill?” Obama may have a persuasive answer, but I can’t imagine what it might be.
Until Democrats are convinced that the public won’t punish them for ramming through a raft of new taxes and huge Medicare cuts and calling it health-care reform, I would suggest that at least the Obama version is not going to get past the “greatest deliberative body.” The Senate has a way of mulling these things over for a good long time when enough members would rather do nothing at all.