It's the Perils of Pelosi and Reid - the NY Times is suddenly overcome with gloom about prospects for the Senate health care bill. Check this progression of headlines:
Tuesday, the process is chugging along:
Wednesday we see a triumphant headline about Reid's 'deal':
Careful readers can find this seemingly rhetorical nod to the possibility of trouble in paradise:
"Even if"? C'mon, this bill is too big too fail, isn't it? Well, by Thursday, maybe not:
They see hope? They better be seeing hope or there will be a change in the Senate leadership. Let's wallow in the gloom:
In the floor fight over the health care proposal, now 10 days old, Senate Republicans continued their efforts to torpedo the bill, citing polls that they said showed mounting public opposition. And Democrats, rather than trying to perfect the bill, seemed intent primarily on just keeping it alive.
“Any big agreement is progress,” said Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania. “Even if we do not know any of the details.”
Keep hope alive!
The majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, on Wednesday sent the tentative proposal to the Congressional Budget Office for cost analysis, and Democrats acknowledged that the bill’s fate hinged on the results. In that sense, the deal was less a comprehensive accord than a decision to keep the process moving.
Mr. Reid described the broad outline of the plan at an hourlong meeting of his caucus late Wednesday afternoon. But as they emerged from the session, many senators, including some who helped broker the agreement, said that they had learned little and that there were many outstanding concerns.
“General concepts, but nothing very specific at all,” said Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, who was in the group of 10.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said: “There was no explanation. It was sort of go team, go.”
It's fate hinges on the CBO! Reid doesn't have a deal, he has a desperate attempt to keep the process alive! Such drama, and so suddenly.
My guess - Congress needs a bill to avoid a rout in 2010. Obama, on the other hand, needs a bill by 2012, in the same way that Bill Clinton needed welfare reform prior to his re-election bid.
So - Obama will provide modest rhetorical cover to Congressional efforts and will certainly sign anything they send him, but he is done with the big speeches promoting a bill that is even less popular than he is. Of course, his silence may not hurt; it certainly does not appear that his speaking has helped.