As we've said all along, this whole thing is going to turn on what Democrats do. Fortunately, it sounds like Reid's much-trumpeted new compromise is falling apart almost as soon as it was announced. Rich Lowry gives us the state of play heading into the weekend:
A deal between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry is holding up a bipartisan amendment to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from abroad, according to a member of the Senate Democratic leadership.
The Senate has been debating the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), since Tuesday but has not held a vote, which is contributing to a stall in the floor action on healthcare reform.
But wait… there’s more:
As a result, the Senate health care debate has come to a standstill: Carper has placed a “hold” on Dorgan’s amendment and in response, Dorgan tells HuffPost, he’ll object to any other amendments being considered before he gets a vote on his.
Could it get better? Yes, it could:
Democrats from states with major drug companies strongly oppose the amendment. One of them, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), offered an alternative to address the safety concerns.
In the past, supporters of easier importation have seen similar amendments as “poison pills” — effectively neutering the proposal by requiring U.S. officials to certify in advance that imported drugs would be safe and effective. (Emphasis added.)
Doesn’t the White House — and selected Democratic Senators — realize that their obstructionism is thisclose to supporting slavery?
Throw in the story that Sen. Maj. Ldr. Reid is doing the bidding of evil insurance companies, and you have the makings of a very Frowny Friday for the netroots.
The Reid bill is really tottering now. "If this thing falls apart, you can look back to today as the tipping point," says a Republican aide in the Senate, echoing what Lamar Alexander notes in the Costa post below. First, there was last night's CNN poll showing 61 percent opposition. Then, there was the devastating CMS report today. "Nobody went to the floor that I could see to defend it on the Democratic side," says the aide. The back-drop for all this is the non-deal that Reid hyped as a break-through earlier this week, only to have it unravel almost immediately. Even Bill Nelson says the Medicare buy-in is basically a "non-starter." "You're starting to see other Democrats nibbling around the edges," the aide says. He predicts that if one Democrat comes out clearly against the Reid bill, others will follow, in a dynamic like the unexpectedly decisive defeat of the amnesty bill a few years ago. Reid also has to worry about the clock. He needs everything to break exactly right—a CBO score coming in on Monday, a score that's good, no intervening, unexpected drama—to force a final showdown next weekend. If he goes to Christmas break without a bill, it gets much harder to pick up the pieces in January. Since the Senate debate began, the bill has only gotten more unpopular. It’s all still in flux obviously, but we just might be watching the bill fall apart before our eyes.That's the best news I've heard all week! Still, it would be rather foolish to trust Democrats to stand firm for long. Let's not let up on the pressure, shall we? It is Christmas, after all, so it would be an immeasurably good gift to this nation to kick DemCare into next year.
There's my two cents.