Going into President Obama’s first State of the Union Address we continue to get mixed signals as to plans to proceed with health care reform. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer did say that Obama will reiterate his commitment to health care reform.
Members of the House are saying that they are willing to consider passing the Senate bill along with passing a second bill with fixes which will be passed as part of budget reconciliation where only a simple majority is needed for passage. However House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also talking about a two track effort to pass simpler matters first and more comprehensive reform at a later date. Considering the degree of opposition to the bill nationally, as well as opposition to passing the Senate bill in the House, this might be the most realistic path.
Passing a more scaled-back plan with promises of more comprehensive reforms in the future might not be accepted by the left but Bennie Sanders, one of the most liberal member of the Senate, has signaled his willingness to support a scaled-back effort.
It might not even be necessary to scale back a new bill very much. Polls show that half the country want to start over, but that those who say this do not know what is actually in the bill. Theoretically Congress could pass a new bill which is virtually the same as the old bill, name it New Health Care Reform, and most voters would not know the difference. What would matter is explaining the individual components as polling has been clear that while Americans might say they oppose Obama-care in general they also support all the key aspects when asked specific questions.