Just from the title of today's Huffington Post cover story, Leaderless: Senate Pushes For Public Option Without Obama's Support, you can see that they have pretty much given up on counting on Barack Obama demonstrating leadership in the fight to pass ObamaCare. Here are Huffington Post correspondents Sam Stein and Ryan Grim registering their disgust with Obama in a grim story:
President Barack Obama is actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform. In its place, say multiple Democratic sources, Obama has indicated a preference for an alternative policy, favored by the insurance industry, which would see a public plan "triggered" into effect in the future by a failure of the industry to meet certain benchmarks.
The administration retreat runs counter to the letter and the spirit of Obama's presidential campaign. The man who ran on the "Audacity of Hope" has now taken a more conservative stand than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), leaving progressives with a mix of confusion and outrage. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have battled conservatives in their own party in an effort to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Now tantalizingly close, they are calling for Obama to step up.
So who are they hoping will be their hero to save the day? Since it's not Obama, they are now placing their hopes upon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who is actually more like Al Capp's gloomy figure of Joe Btfsplk, who carries his bad luck with him as a perpetual raincloud over his head (illustration below the fold), than Mighty Mouse.
The president's retreat leaves Reid as the champion of progressive reform -- an irony that is not lost on those who have long derided the Majority Leader as too cautious.
"Who knew that when it came down to crunch time, Harry Reid would be the one who stepped up to the plate and Barack Obama would shy away from the fight," emailed one progressive strategist.
On Thursday evening, after taking the temperature of his caucus, Reid told Obama at a White House meeting that he was pushing a national public option with an opt-out provision. Obama, several sources briefed on the exchange, reacted coolly.
...Outside Congress, anger trumped confusion. On Saturday, the activist group Progressive Change Campaign Committee - which just days earlier had targeted Reid in a separate campaign - took out a new television advertisement in Maine accompanied by an "emergency petition." Titled, "Time to Fight," the spot featured a former Obama campaign volunteer pleading with the president not to abandon the public plan.
Unfortunately for the Huffington Post and their "progressive" allies, Harry Reid just last Wednesday proved himself to be something less than a legislative savior. Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes the Harry Reid "train wreck" when the majority leader tried to sneak a health care financial accounting gimmick through the Senate:
Democrats have been tying themselves into knots in their efforts to conceal from the public the true cost of Obamacare. Last Wednesday, their schemes came crashing down around Harry Reid's ears.
...Mr. Baucus proposed to save money in Medicare by gutting the Medicare Advantage program, in which 23 percent of seniors are enrolled, and by slashing the payments doctors and hospitals receive for treating Medicare patients.
So how to reimburse the doctors for treating Medicare patients without increasing the cost of ObamaCare? Accounting tricks to the rescue...until they got derailed:
...To fix this problem, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., proposed to block the Medicare reimbursement cuts for 10 years. The logical thing to do would have been to offer the Stabenow proposal as an amendment to the Baucus bill. But if that were done, the cost of the Baucus bill would rise by $247 billion over 10 years, according to the CBO. Democrats could no longer claim it was deficit neutral.
To Mr. Reid, the solution was to offer the Stabenow measure as a separate bill and pretend it had nothing to do with the Obamacare plan. But last Wednesday, 13 Democrats joined all the Republicans in opposing this fiscal sleight of hand.
The defeat made Mr. Reid look like a putz. Majority leaders aren't supposed to bring measures to the floor unless they have the votes, and he got beat bad. (Mr. Reid needed 60 votes to take up the Stabenow bill; he got 47.)
In defeat, Mr. Reid then acted like a putz. He blamed the loss on the failure of the American Medical Association to deliver Republican votes.
...Yuval Levin, who monitors health care issues for the Ethics and Public Policy Center, summed up the situation: "[The] vote showed [Senate Democrats] a leader unsure of himself, lacking an accurate vote count, and surprised by developments on the Senate floor."