Dems strike optimistic notes on reform

DEMS STRIKE OPTIMISTIC NOTES ON REFORM…. Senate Democrats got together for a big, caucus-wide chat on health care reform today, a day after the private Reid/Baucus/Dodd meeting yesterday. After today’s gathering, everyone sure did seem optimistic.

“Every Democrat” in the Senate will end up supporting healthcare reform legislation, one of the lead negotiators on crafting a final bill said Thursday.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asserted that all 60 Democrats in the Senate would support the health bill to be merged together from his committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Baucus told reporters he can even imagine more than one Republican ending up backing the final bill. “And that is why we are going to pass health care reform legislation this year, and it is why every Democrat will vote for it, and it is why there will be at least one Republican and maybe a couple more who also will vote for it,” he said during a press availability.

He wasn’t the only one who sounded optimistic. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he’d “spoken to two other Republicans today on health care,” neither of whom was named Olympia. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn), fighting for the HELP Committee bill, said, “We’re doing well,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a strong supporter of a public option, said, “I feel good” about where Democrats are in the process.

Brown’s confidence springs from a belief that no Democrats want to be held responsible for killing reform. “No Democrat wants to be on the wrong side of history and vote on a procedural vote to kill the most important domestic vote of their careers,” Brown said.

And that continues to be the key. When push comes to shove, will anyone in the Democratic caucus really side with Republicans and deny health care reform a vote? It’s why I like the optimistic attitudes this afternoon — passage of reform should be considered a foregone conclusion. There’s nothing wrong with the effort gathering a sense of momentum, signaling to the center-right Dems that siding with the GOP on obstructionism is simply beyond the pale.