What The SOTU Means For Health Care

Nothing just yet. Here's some reporting from Brian Beutler:

I asked House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) whether Obama had helped ease the gridlock.

"Four different occasions tonight the President says, 'I'm calling upon the Senate to act on what the House has done,'" Clyburn said.

Did the President make your job on health care easier?

"It's in the Senate's court," Clyburn insisted. "These things that the President talked about tonight, 90 percent of them have already been done by the House. So I don't have a job to do. He made that very clear."

But his colleagues in the other chamber have the exact opposite view.

"At this point I think the ball is in the House's court on health care," Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) told me. "They have to decide whether to accept the Senate bill. If they don't then that complicates matters over here.... The problem at this point is how to get the votes in the House."

From Yglesias:

The speech is a speech to the American people, especially to people who follow politics pretty casually, and regular people don't want to hear about congressional process. The reality is that this is going to have to be worked out behind the scenes, behind the dread closed doors. But one of the main points of the speech was to get the focus on Obama and Obama's themes and off closed door dealmaking. So he emphasized the need for action and correctly situated the call for health reform in a broader context of economics reform.

My only take-away from the speech is mundane and predictable around these parts: I just don't know what I'm looking at. The whole process is kind of mysterious to me. Would it have made any difference if Obama had called on the House to pass the Senate bill? I don't know. I'm just not sure what will happen. But the longer this takes, the more my doubt grows.