Health Care's On Life Support (Or Not)

Democrats Might Win By Losing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Anthony Weiner thinks the bill is doomed, but we have reason to believe otherwise.

    New York Congressman Anthony Weiner says the fate of health care reform rests on the outcome of the Massachusetts Senate race that culminates today.

    But as Seth Meyers might say: really?

    Well, follow this thread of clues that the opposite might be true.

    You might have noticed that the White House announced the State of the Union has been scheduled for Jan. 27. As most political experts have observed, if President Barack Obama delivers his first State of the Union without a health care deal, critics would easily be able to call his first year unsuccesful. So why did he move the critical speech to an earlier date on the calendar, rather than some later date in February to give Congressional negotiators more time?

    Perhaps because Mr. Obama is confident he has reliable allies in the House.

    It boils down to this. If Scott Brown wins in Massachusetts, thereby depriving Democrats the 60-vote supermajority they need to pass health care, the reform bill can still win passage -- in the House. Remember, the Senate already passed its reform bill, and the only need to vote again comes if the bill is significantly changed.

    But what if the House simply votes to approve the Senate bill?

    Skeptics should note, the bill was declared all but dead last fall, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rounded up 220 votes to win passage the first time around. Facing the possibility of legislative defeat, it seems the Speaker and the President are optimistic they can wrangle the necessary yeahs to outweigh the nays.

    So then, what you might see, is the House speeding approval of the Senate Bill in the next few days, and then President Obama would sign the reform this weekend. Then, he enters his most important speech to date with a key legislative victory. Opponents will surely argue the bill is too expensive, too watered down, too insufficient. But they won't be able to argue he failed to pass a health care bill. And that's why the calendar is the biggest clue of all. Watch the next few days to see if this scenario plays out.