TIME FOR THE NARRATIVE TO SWITCH BACK…. In June, health care reform was very likely to happen. It was one of those observations “everyone” knew to be true. In July, however, reform was in trouble, and “everyone” knew that, too. It’s August, and now reform is practically dead. “Everyone” says so.
Of course, August is almost over, and those observations about the reform effort failing have become stale and uninteresting. September starts tomorrow and it’s time for a new narrative. Maybe now would be a good time for “everyone” to start talking about reform is going to pass after all.
The NYT‘s John Harwood has a piece today on the “stronger prospects” for a health care reform bill this year.
If sentiment ever ruled the United States Senate, it does not now. Advocates of health care overhaul should not expect a big boost in memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Yet other factors suggest that President Obama still has stronger prospects for achieving his health policy goals than surface impressions of the Congressional recess indicate. He lags behind his own timetable for action, but remains ahead of presidential predecessors who pursued the same objective.
As Harwood sees it, there’s already widespread agreement on several key elements of reform; reconciliation is still very much an option; the Gang of Six nonsense is nearly complete; and “Democratic leaders believe” they might be able to break a filibuster with Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R-Maine) support.
Former Sen. John Breaux (D) of Louisiana told Harwood, “They’ll get something done. It’ll be a major step.”
E.J. Dionne Jr. touched on a similar point in his column today: “Despite health care’s summer of discontent, supporters of change are in better shape than the accounts of recent weeks would suggest.”
And Kevin Drum emphasized the fact that as August comes to a close, the Tea Baggers and their tantrums haven’t fundamentally changed much of anything: “[T]he Fox/FreedomWorks crowd has created some great political theater, but underneath it all not a lot has changed. If Democrats can just take a deep breath after the trauma of being yelled at all summer, they’ll realize that the loons at their townhalls represented about one percent of their constituency; that the public still wants reform and will reward success; that the plans currently on the table are already pretty modest affairs; and then they’ll stick together as a caucus and vote for them. And that will be that.”
Health care reform could be the phoenix, rising from the ashes, if Democrats show some spine and roll up their sleeves. The elements are already in place, and the media narrative is ready to shift. It’s not rocket science.