Why Brown's Victory Probably Killed Health Care Reform

Nancy Pelosi,  Barack Obama, and a lot of other liberals are talking tough on health care, but the reality is that Scott Brown's election is probably going to kill it deader than the dodo. Granted, you can never say never in this business (after all, how many of us expected the Dems to lose "Ted Kennedy's seat" a month ago?), but here are the Democrats' remaining options:

1. Try to delay seating Scott Brown and push health care through without him.

First off, if you go by the law as it's written, Paul Kirk is no longer a U.S. senator. His term ended after the election last night. Even if the Democrats tried to pull a fast one, James Webb has already made it clear that he's not interested in playing along. That means that if the Democrats in the House make revisions to the Senate bill, they can't get it back through the Senate without Paul Kirk's vote.

2. House Democrats pass the Senate bill as is.

Theoretically, this could happen. As a practical matter, it seems very unlikely. "Yes" vote Robert Wexler has retired and won't be replaced until April. Republican Joseph Cao is going to be a "no" vote this time, and Bart Stupak says he has 10-12 Democrats willing to vote "no" because his pro-life amendment has been yanked. That means Pelosi would need to probably turn at least a dozen “no” votes from last time around, when the bill was more popular. That would be a tall order under any circumstances, but given that the public option has been taken out and the unions have become dismayed that their "Cadillac" health care plans will be taxed, Pelosi seems more likely to lose liberal votes than gain moderate ones at this point. So getting 218 votes in the House for the bill as it currently stands is probably just not possible.