Home Stretch: Health Care in One Week or Bust

White House says "law of the land" by Sunday

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Appearing this weekend on Fox News Sunday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that he thinks health care reform will be "the law of the land" by next Sunday. Since President Obama began the journey over a year ago, reform legislation has endured a hundred or more deaths and rebirths. Never has the White House seemed so sure of its passage. Indeed, the legislative gears are already turning. But with House Democrats warning they still don't have all the votes assembled and Obama heading to Ohio to root out "yes" votes, the end game is unclear. Here's what they could do.

  • Why So Optimistic? The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza gives two possibilities. "[I]t's not entirely clear yet whether Democratic optimism is born out of a knowledge that the votes will be there for health care or rather an attempt to build some sort of momentum behind the legislation." If it's the latter, the strategy of legislating by optimism could be a tricky one.
  • This Is All On House Dems Now The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn explains that, with the Senate bill already passed, it's up to the House to approve or make changes. "If the House did nothing but pass that bill, and the president signed it, we'd have a new health care system. But, of course, the House wants to do something else, too. It wants to tweak the subsidies and taxes in the Senate bill, while removing some of the infamous deals Senate leadership made back in the fall. To do that, the House has to pass a set of amendments, which must then go back to the Senate for approval in that chamber."
  • Political Quid Pro Quo The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny compares the big push for health care reform, heavily funded on both sides, to "the ferocity of a presidential campaign." The White House, interest groups and grassroots groups are targeting the "swing Democrats" in the House who could save or kill reform. "The White House has signaled to lawmakers that assistance for midterm elections -- for example, presidential visits and fund-raisers -- will be prioritized for those who support the bill."
  • Dems' Crazy 'Contingency' Plans The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn warily reports that, beyond the "'Schoolhouse Rock' Option" that looks like the comfortably familiar legislative process, Dems are considering two "contingency plans" that veer on the crazy. These include a process of "deeming" the Senate bill passed in the House rather than actually voting on it. "As I've said before, that seems utterly pointless to me. Come November, the distinction between voting for a bill directly and voting for a bill indirectly, via 'deeming,' isn't going to make much difference."
  • No 'Absurd' Strategies, Just Pass It The Washington Post's Ezra Klein waves off the convoluted, "absurd" legislative strategies. He says House and Senate Democrats should put their differences behind them and just get this bill out the door. "Delaying victory hasn't served the Democrats well thus far, and it's not likely to be a good idea now. It's time to stop being clever and pass this bill."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.