The Democrats' Healthcare Conundrum (Updated)

Update: The House voted today to repeal ObamaCare, 236-181.

The battle over President Barack Obama’s plan to change the U.S. health care system is far from over. Getting a bill through the Congress and signed into law may have won him the first round -- but the debate renews with the opening of the 112th Congress.

As several legal and constitutional challenges work their way through the federal courts system, the U.S. House of Representatives, now controlled by the Republicans, has scheduled a vote (this week) to junk the whole thing. It’s likely to pass, perhaps even by a veto-proof majority if the Democrats who voted against it last year -- and who are still in Congress -- join with the GOP in pushing for its repeal.

This means, once again, that the action moves to the United States Senate where, it should be recalled, the original ObamaCare proposal languished for months until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could figure out a strategy to get it to the floor for a vote.

With the Democrats still in the majority in the Senate -- albeit by a narrower margin -- most political commentators expect the repeal language to die a slow, lingering death as Reid uses every parliamentary trick at his disposal to keep it from coming to the floor for a vote.

In the short run, that looks like a winning strategy. In the long run, it may hand the Senate to the Republicans in the November 2012 election. Far too many Senate Democrats occupy seats in states either carried by John McCain in 2008 or in which the GOP performed well in 2010 for them to be able to comfortably turn their backs on the health care repeal movement. Virginia’s Jim Webb, Florida’s Bill Nelson and Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill are but a few of the endangered Democrats who put their re-election at risk if they ignore how deeply the American people dislike ObamaCare now that they really understand what it does.