Health Care: Like a movie vampire, big-government health reform keeps coming back to sink its teeth into a resistant America's throat. Voter power has left the Democrats' plans near dead, but near isn't good enough.
The axiom "the people rule" came to life in Massachusetts when our system of government, which is so often so frustrating, stopped the Washington juggernaut carrying America toward socialized medicine.
But while the longtime leftist dream of a radical medical revolution seems ruined, the game is far from over.
There remain a number of paths open to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring their resoundingly unpopular idea of health reform back to life — in even worse form than before.
The most dangerous scenario may well be to reach the required 60 votes to end a filibuster by convincing one of the less-principled Senate Republicans that the next opportunity to change the health system will be far off into the future, so far that by that time the GOP senator will be gone and won't be able to take credit for it.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is a possible target. In October she joined Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee in voting for health reform, declaring that "when history calls, history calls."
In the wake of Scott Brown making history by taking the late Ted Kennedy's solidly Democratic Senate seat, it may be more difficult for Snowe to ally herself against her party once again — but Democrats are trying her.
As reported by The Hill newspaper, Snowe says finance panel chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., "approached her in the past week to get her general thinking on reviving health care reform." Moderate Democratic senators such as Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Bill Nelson of Florida are also knocking on Snowe's door.
At the same time, Snowe's fellow Maine liberal Republican, Sen. Susan Collins, says she thinks "it would be possible for the White House to come together with the Republican leaders to draft a scaled-down bill, and I hope that might happen."
The budget reconciliation process could also be used to pass some version of health reform in the Senate — one conceivably including the dreaded public option that would devastate the private insurance industry. Masquerading as a budget measure, only a simple majority in the Senate would be needed.
Pelosi told Politico this week that she might attempt some piecemeal changes in the health system and try comprehensive reform again later. The thinking is that if Americans just cool down, they will accept a massive transformation of the finest health care system in the world.
But the studies indicating thousands of dollars more in premiums, new regulations forcing employers to drop coverage and hard-hitting polls such as IBD/TIPP's finding that 45% of doctors would consider retiring or quitting their practice if something resembling government care is passed, are factors unlikely to go away.
The plans to wreck our health system look dead, but the fatal stake hasn't been driven through the heart yet