While the American public remains, at best, deeply divided over the merits of the health care reform bills that have been bouncing around Congress for the past year, the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership remain committed to bringing health care reform to a final vote, even if it means engaging in procedural maneuvers that are constitutionally questionable.
As of this writing, even House Majority Whip James Clyburn admits that he does not have the 216 votes needed to pass the bill and that the final vote may be delayed past the Easter break.
Politically, the health care debate has been nothing short of a disaster for the Democratic Party. For several weeks now, Republicans have been widening their lead in the generic congressional ballot, and analysts like Larry Sabato are already projecting Republican gains in the Senate and the House. Moreover, one recent poll shows that even Democratic voters in swing states would be inclined to vote against a congressperson who votes in favor of the bill currently pending in the House of Representatives.
But it gets worse from there for the Democrats.
In addition to opposition from the right and the vast American middle, the Democrats are also fighting off an attack from their left flank. A group calling itself the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has been pressuring House Democrats to include a public option in the reconciliation package that will be sent to the Senate, and labor union leaders are threatening Democrats who vote against health care reform with third-party challenges from the left. Even Dennis Kucinich is under fire for not falling in line behind the Pelosi/Reid bill.
Given these twin attacks from both directions, it’s easy to see that Democrats will face a problem regardless of what happens with health care reform in the coming days and weeks.