Obama hangs health reform on the thread of bipartisanship

Bipartisanship, in this political environment, is a very slim thread on which to hang reform. Right now health reform looks dead.

Those hoping President Obama would announce a new push to shove health reform down the Senate's throat last night were disappointed.

If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I'm eager to see it.

Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done. Let's get it done.

All of which means Republicans can kill health reform, even though both Houses of Congress have passed a plan the CBO says reduces the deficit and extends coverage to more people, that replaces risk-rating with community rating, so coverage can't be denied just because you need it.

Even the President's "threat" on this was mild. "if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well."

It's an argument that Republicans can call an excuse and hammer him with.

Still, there are elements of a potential deal here.

The two Republican ideas that have gained the most traction in this debate are tort reform and extending competition among the states. If there are Republicans who can negotiate something like that with the Democratic leadership, and promise to vote for what results, health reform is still possible.

But bipartisanship, in this political environment, is a very slim thread on which to hang reform. Right now health reform looks dead.

And getting stopped at the goal line will still get a coach fired.

NOTE: My personal views on the whole speech are on my personal blog.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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