With a very tight race for Ted Kennedy’s seat to be resolved tomorrow (barring any drawn out recounts), the likely trajectory of health reform is coming into focus. The two most plausible paths are:
- Coakley (D) wins and the House/Senate negotiations continue.
- Brown (R) wins and Democrats shift to plan B, which calls for the House passing the same bill that 60 Senators have already voted for and then revise it via reconciliation.
Neither route to reform comes with a guarantee of success. Negotiations could fall apart and House Democrats could fail to pass the Senate’s bill.
What is still a bit uncertain (to me at least) is the timing. Of course the Administration wants a bill before the State of the Union, which has yet to be scheduled. That’s just the latest in a string of deadlines going back to last summer. That production of a final bill has taken even this long has come at the cost of fewer accomplishments in Obama’s first year. The Democrats have entered an election year with far less to show for their super-majority control than many hoped or expected. Independent of the outcome of Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts, that’s a victory the Republicans have already achieved.