The backup plan, cont’d

THE BACKUP PLAN, CONT’D…. With Democratic leaders now expecting to see the Senate caucus shrink from 60 to 59 seats, the dominant question of the week is over the fate of health care reform. There are some Dems who believe the entire initiative will implode the moment Scott Brown is declared the winner (if he’s declared the winner) in Massachusetts. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) suggested as much this morning.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t see it that way at all. “Let’s remove all doubt,” Pelosi told reporters yesterday. “We will have health care one way or another…. Certainly the dynamic will change depending on what happens in Massachusetts. Just the question of how we would proceed. But it doesn’t mean we won’t have a health care bill.”

The New York Times added that Democratic leaders have already “begun laying the groundwork to ask House Democrats to approve the Senate version of the bill and send it directly to President Obama for his signature.”

To be sure, this House Dems do not like this idea — at all. But with severely limited options, and with the prospect of making changes through the budget reconciliation process, this option at least remains a possibility, pending results in the Bay State.

My hope is that hand-wringing Democrats are able to put aside their electoral panic just long enough to realize that failure on health care reform cannot be an option. If Ezra’s piece this morning isn’t being emailed around on the Hill yet, it should be.

Democrats should pass health-care reform because it’s the right thing to do. They should pass health-care reform because between 18,000 and 45,000 people die each year because they don’t have health-care insurance, and this bill will save many of those lives. They should pass health-care reform because it will prevent countless medical bankruptcies and an enormous amount of needless chronic pain and infirmity. They should pass it because it will take important steps towards cost control. They should pass health-care reform, as my friend Chris Hayes says, because it’s important for the American people to see their government doing more than starting wars and bailing out banks. They should pass health-care reform because it’s the right thing to do, both for the millions of people whom it will directly affect and for the country as a whole.

The status quo is broken. The health care system doesn’t work. We pay too much and get too little. The system is bankrupting families, undermining businesses, and placing ridiculous burdens on government at every level. It’s simply unsustainable for a country that hopes to have a fiscally sane, competitive future.

These inconvenient facts won’t disappear simply because Martha Coakley is the Bill Buckner of Senate candidates and because some Massachusetts voters experienced a dramatic lapse in judgment.