One of the political difficulties complicating the Democrats' ability to seal the deal on health care is perfectly familiar: moderate Democratic senators have an aversion to playing procedural hardball on an issue that's become deeply polarizing. The option staring members of both chambers in the face involves Senate leaders taking an unusual step--circumventing a filibuster to pass legislation preemptively making some significant changes to their own health care bill. The move--called budget reconciliation--is sure to raise howls and objections from conservatives and Republicans, and, as such, Democrats in contested states are saying, "don't go there."
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One of those Democrats is Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who charged out of the gate this week saying he opposes the process. Scratch the surface, though, and the political rationale for Bayh's decision becomes clear.
"There would be some real consequences from that for the legislative agenda for the rest of the year," Bayh told me last night, "the other things the president called for: cooperation on education, financial reform, a whole host of other things."