The Democrats may have a 60-member caucus–large enough in theory to circumvent enough a Republican health care reform filibuster. But two of those 60 are gravely ill, and one is Ben Nelson.
The Senate Finance Committee–of which Ben Nelson is not a member–has yet to introduce health care legislation after falling several weeks behind schedule. It has been unable to reach agreement in that time on key issues like the public option, and has reportedly dropped, for largely political reasons, a financing mechanism that would have lifted the tax-exclusion on employer-provided health care benefits.
And, it seems, the panel has also rejected the House’s broadly popular proposal of paying for health care reform by imposing a small surtax on wealthy Americans.
If the Finance Committee’s bill serves as the basis of reform, many observers think it will be inadequate, or that its legislation will arrive too late to pass, as members gear up for the 2010 mid-term elections. Yesterday, President Obama said, “we have finally reached a point where…the choice to defer reform is nothing more than a decision to defend the status quo.”