Roll Call reports:
Senate Democratic leaders’ hopes of approving health care reform before adjourning for the August recess appear all but dead, with the prospect of meeting President Barack Obama’s demand for a bill on his desk by Oct. 15 looking increasingly difficult.
There’s a reason why President Obama is trying to rush health care legislation through Congress and why he continues to make dire warnings that if it doesn’t happen this year, it won’t get done. The longer legislation stews in Congress, the more time there is for opponents to pick it apart. While Democrats had hoped to have bills passed in both chambers by the end of July, allowing them to come back from recess after Labor Day and merge the House and Senate bills together in the fall, now critics will have much more time to expose the problems with Democratic health care plans.
And there’s a further complicating factor. Several more months of delay means several more bad unemployment reports that call into question the effectiveness of the economic stimulus package. In an interview on local television in Connecticut, Sen. Chris Dodd (who is one of the key players on health care) said that the stimulus legislation wasn’t working and suggested there may have to be a second stimulus bill. So, Democrats may find themselves in a box in the fall assuming the economy continues to deteriorate. Take no further action and they’ll face criticism from the left that they’re not doing enough to help the economy and from the right that their policies have been ineffective. However, if they do push for a second stimulus package it will be a tacit admission that the first one was a failure, make their health care claims less credible, and divert a lot of oxygen from the health care fight.
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