Axelrod signals support for weaker, scaled-back bill

AXELROD SIGNALS SUPPORT FOR WEAKER, SCALED-BACK BILL…. I keep waiting for the White House to step up and urge the House to pass the Senate health care reform bill, and to urge the Senate to give the House assurances about improvements to be made through reconciliation. It’s the solution that so many reform advocates keep emphasizing, and they could use some help.

But at least publicly, that’s not happening. David Axelrod appeared on ABC’s “This Week” earlier, and Terry Moran asked if health care reform is “dead,” in light of some of the comments President Obama made to George Stephanopoulos this week. Axelrod responded:

“No, that’s not true at all. I think what he’s saying is let’s take a look at this. There are so many elements of this — tax breaks for small business, extending the life of Medicare, more assistance for seniors with their prescription drugs, a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, help for people with pre-existing conditions — that are too important to walk away from. What he’s saying is, let’s get back to it.”

Sigh.

The rest of the reform bill is “too important to walk away from,” too. If the House passes the Senate bill, Americans can benefit from the tax breaks for small business, the strengthening of Medicare, the help for seniors — and so much more. It just takes one roll-call vote in the House to deliver a victory for the ages.

And that victory may not happen unless the White House intervenes to help make it happen. It may be up to Obama to personally facilitate a deal.

That said, it doesn’t have to be on the president’s shoulders. As we talked about yesterday, Congress is its own branch, with its own leaders. It’s in members’ interests to get this done. Congress should realize the importance of delivering on the promise of reform — whether it gets instructions from the White House or not should be irrelevant.