Dana Perino cracks that Harry Reid’s Medicare buy-in gambit was the equivalent of going “water skiing to jump the health-care reform shark.” He hoped to make a leap of logic and fiscal sanity, induce Democrats hungry for a deal to play along, and get out to town before anyone realized what was up. Not so fast, says Perino:
For a day or two, thanks to complicit journalists, it looked like he cleared the jump and was a Democratic hero. Headlines cheered, “There’s a deal, there’s momentum, and the Senate will be going home for Christmas having passed healthcare reform. Let us rejoice!” . . . After a few days it was clear that the Senator hadn’t cleared the shark but that it reached up and bit him in the you-know-what.
But as Perino notes, there wasn’t ever a deal, just a decision by Reid to send his scheme to the CBO for scoring and to try to spin the appearance of agreement. And as for the politics, Perino notes that the “public opinion for this bill is worse today than the last days of Hilarycare, and a poll this week showed majority of people think what the Democrats are trying to do is unconstitutional. Grassroots anger is sprouting up and threatening to spoil the season of good cheer.”
So what’s next? Well, for months Republicans have been outlining discrete reforms for which they’d be willing to vote and which would deliver a legislativ victory of sorts to the White House. No, it won’t be the grand dream of liberals to take over the health-care industry, but they certainly can come up with discrete and focused reforms that would improve access (e.g., lifting bans on interstate insurance) or reduce costs (by encouraging, rather than penalizing, states to limit punitive and non-economic damages in malpractice suits). Reid hasn’t been distinguished by his ability to think more than one step ahead. But someone on the Democratic side should figure out Plan B. Reid’s gambit looks as thouigh it will sink and they’ll all need a political life raft if they want to avoid complete humiliation.