I think the prospects for Obama signing a health care bill still look good, albeit not a slam-dunk by any means. But the Republicans have successfully whittled down the bill to a point that they can have some success in attacking elements of the reforms. Most obviously, as many of us have been saying for a year now, the Republicans will argue that it’s an unconstitutional impingement on our rights to compel us under threat of fine to buy a product (health insurance) from a private corporation. On the flip side, the Democrats will promise young, healthy people that don’t want to spend any percentage of their income on health insurance that they’ll lower their rates by increasing their subsidies.

Obama is still negotiating against himself, making changes to the bill that Republicans claim to like without getting any Republican votes in return. He’s trying to create political cover for his members by painting the Republicans as unreasonable. Maybe it will work, and maybe it is necessary, but it isn’t going to be very helpful in the long-run when people have to defend these health care reforms. A stronger, more popular bill would be preferable from a policy and a political perspective.

I don’t mind going after the trial lawyers a bit and getting some malpractice reform, but it should be remembered that trial lawyers are one of the Democratic Party’s most important constituencies. If you’re going to make them take a loss, you ought to get something in return, like maybe a single Republican vote.

I suppose the point is simply to get the bill passed now. If it does pass, I will be interested to see how it affects the differential enthusiasm of the two party bases. I suspect the Republicans will be a bit demoralized for a while. But maybe they’ll just ramp the anger up to eleven.

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