Wednesday, January 20, 2010


In the aftermath of the Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election health care reform (HCR) appears in deep trouble. Many Democrats were never very enthusiastic about HCR but didn't want to openly oppose it. Hence its long and tortuous path through Congress to date. But it is hard to see a path to passage at this point although a simulacrum of life may remain for while as no one wants to be the one to declare HCR officially dead. Of course I have been mistaken before about HCR's chances.

If HCR does fail this will be pretty bad for the Democrats. In my view it was a mistake for the Democrats to make HCR their main priority. They would have been better off passing some incremental changes (like extending COBRA) while concentrating on the economy and financial reforms. Unfortunately it will be difficult to change course at this point. They have thrown away a lot of political capital for nothing and the window for passing strong financial reforms may have passed. This would have been easiest accomplished at the height of the crisis when the banks needed government help to survive. Now the administration has no leverage. Nor do they seem all that determined, perhaps because Obama just isn't that interested in the economy.

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