I've got some bad news for President Obama and the Democrats. Politically, this health care reform issue could very well end up as a lose-lose situation. Let me explain.
If health care reform does not pass then it'll look like the Democratic Party and this administration can't get their act together and govern. At that point, November 2010 could look like me in a bathing suit. Downright nasty.
If health care reform does pass then get ready for health care Armageddon. If you think those town halls last August were rough, imagine what this August will be like. Those town halls across the country may end up making the Jerry Springer show look tame.
The Democratic Party is in a tough spot because even if they pass health care reform, we're really not going to see any sort of tangible result for years. In other words, there is not going to be an exact quantitative way for the Democrats to measure its potential for success in 2010 or even 2012. There might be some signs that Democrats will no doubt point to but honestly, all of us will have no clue.
I know the conventional thinking is that Democrats just HAVE to get a bill through or they will look like political goofballs. While that may indeed be true, I think the larger problem for them politically is if they pass this bill through reconciliation. This administration has already been saddled with the narrative (fair or unfair) that they want to shove big government programs down the throats of Americans. Throwing in reconciliation will only fan the flames. When you have polling suggesting that Americans aren't buying the big government approach to health care then you're playing with fire. Piecemeal is the safer play but this President came to The White House wanting to do big things so piecemeal isn't going to work.
Years ago, using reconciliation to pass the Bush tax cuts may not have been the right thing to do (depending on your perspective) but the big difference is that millions of Americans were getting checks in the mail because of it. It's hard to be against that. You won't hear too much complaining about that but passing health care reform through reconciliation doesn't have that immediate payoff. People are impatient. What are they getting immediately? Health care reform will take some time to play out and right now time is not a friend of the Democrats.
Senator Jim DeMint may have said it best last year when he uttered these now famous words:"
History buffs know that the defeat at Waterloo was the end of the road for Napoleon's rule as Emperor of the French. President Obama and the Democrats may be about to find out that Jim DeMint might be more than just a Senator. He may end up being a political prophet.
"If we're able to stop Obama on [health care reform], it will be his Waterloo."