Politico's Mike Allen and Alexander Trowbridge have some bad news for Democrats, especially in the Senate, where Harry Reid has kept the chamber locked in battle over ObamaCare for weeks in an attempt to hit the finish line by Christmas. Barack Obama plans to put the health-care overhaul on the back burner until after the State of the Union address, pushing any conference between the House and Senate off until February. Instead, Obama plans a "hard pivot" towards jobs and the economy:
The White House privately anticipates health care talks to slip into February — past President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address — and then plans to make a "very hard pivot" to a new jobs bill, according to senior administration officials.
Obama has been told that disputes over abortion and the tight schedule are highly likely to delay a final deal, a blow to the president who had hoped to trumpet a health care victory in his big speech to the nation. But he has also been told that House Democratic leaders seem inclined, at least for now, to largely accept the compromise worked out in the Senate, virtually assuring he will eventually get a deal.
Internally, White House aides are plunging into a 2010 plan calling for an early focus on creating jobs, especially in the energy sector, along with starting a conversation about deficit reduction measures, the administration officials said.
Both will be major themes for his first State of the Union speech, which will likely take place on Jan. 26 or Feb. 2. White House aides are in the early stages of planning for the national address, but Obama will not only trumpet what he has described as his "B-plus" performance in 2009 but also set the stage for the 2010 congressional campaigns.
This tells us that the White House has done some legwork in the House and found that the lower chamber is not going to adopt the Senate version as is, as Politico also reports this morning:
House Democrats insisted Tuesday they have no plans to roll over for the Senate in upcoming negotiations on a health reform bill, even as they acknowledged it would be all but impossible to reinsert a public insurance option or force the so-called millionaire's tax on the Senate.
Either move would disrupt Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's no-margin-for-error 60-vote majority. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team seem to have their sights set on lower-profile – but no-less important – differences, like boosting affordability credits in the final bill and starting the insurance exchange a year earlier, which they did in the House.
I thought that health care was a crisis that needed to be fixed NOW (never mind the fact that the 'benefits' didn't kick in until after the next Presidential election)! Where the heck is this coming from?
Hot Air supplies some applicable commentary:
All of those political considerations are true, but I'm still not sold.
The longer that debate drags, the further Obama drops in the polls, which is why this move only makes sense if the White House sees weeks more futility in the health-care overhaul debate. Even liberal commentators like the Seattle Times editorial board want Democrats to shelve ObamaCare and start paying attention to the fact that unemployment has spun out of control on their watch. Deficits are even more wild, as Obama's OMB Director Peter Orszag was forced to acknowledge when he admitted that he had underestimated deficits over the next ten years by 22%, or $2,200,000,000,000.
Unfortunately for Democrats in Congress, that move tosses them under a very big bus. They wanted to close this debate as early as possible in order to allow anger over the unpopular measure to ebb in time for their re-election campaigns. Under the new timing, Congress would have to consider ObamaCare and cap-and-trade in rapid succession, just in time for the summer and fundraising time. Unlike last year, Democrats won't be able to avoid appearing in public and being surrounded by Tea Party protests, and those two agenda items will provoke them to even more fury than last year.
The other term for "hard pivot" is "dithering." The more Obama dithers, the less likely ObamaCare becomes.
And I'm not alone:
HotAir via Politico is reporting that the Obama administration has learned that there is sufficient resistence in the House to the Senate plan that the push to pass final legislation, after conference, will be delayed until after Obama's January State of the Union address.
I'd like to believe it, but I can't help the feeling that this is disinformation put out by Rahm Emanuel to ease the pressure on Congressmen and Senators over the holiday break.
If this is true, then the Democratic Senators rushing to pass a bill by Christmas are about to jump off a political ledge without a parachute.
This legislation will not survive until February. It is having trouble surving until January. And if by some chance the momentum can survive until February, it simply will keep open an issue on which Obama and Democrats are losing public support daily.
If Obama really is planning to delay a conference and final passage until February, this is the best Christmas present to those who care about killing this bill.
It would be, no doubt, and I'd gladly take it!
Obama has shown little regard thus far for anyone's well-being but his own, but even he has to understand that if he forces Congressional Dems to walk the plank too many times, he will hand Congress to the GOP on a silver platter next November. Many Dems will gladly follow his ideological madness, but there are plenty more who actually want to keep their jobs, and without a clear majority in both houses, Obama's agenda grinds to a sudden halt.
I'll believe this delay when I see it. Until then, my cynical crap-ometer is reading off the charts...
There's my two cents.