After a series of false starts, House Democrats are finally expected to unveil the details of a sweeping reform measure on Tuesday that would drastically revamp the country’s health care system.
Party leaders had initially planned to introduce legislation last week and start considering it in committees this week. But that timeline was scuttled when a parade of moderates threw up their arms last week at a draft of the bill offered weeks earlier by the three chairmen writing it.
These early hiccups have left Republicans feeling giddy — free to stand back and watch as Democrats fight among themselves, much as they did over passage of the climate change bill earlier this month.
In a memo to Republicans, GOP consultant Alex Castellanos said that time is on his party’s side. “If we slow this sausage-making process down,” Castellanos said, “we can defeat it and advance real reform that will actually help.”
Democrats know that the clock is ticking — that the slower the process goes, the more time opponents will have to plant doubts in the minds of voters. And if the process spills into the August recess, those skeptical voters will have plenty of chances to make their views known to the representatives.
Jacki Schechner, a spokeswoman for the progressive group Health Care for America Now, said that the Republicans’ goal is “to kill health care reform,” and they will “do everything they can to stall and delay. They have no intention of creating reform that will actually work for the people of this country.”
But so far, House Democrats have done all the delaying that needs to be done — so much so that many observers have given up on President Barack Obama’s goal of getting reform bills through the House and the Senate before the August recess.
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