Just to be clear: it is the fault of the democrats, in particular Max Baucus, that they are in this fix. Much time has been wasted in trying to find a mythical
This is where we are at: Republicans know that, as the minority party, their priorities will not be reflected in the health care reforms. Worse, they know that successful reform will buoy Obama and the Democrats, and that the majorities the Dems enjoy in both houses will probably increase in 2010 if the democrats are given the credit for successful governance (and, hopefully, a recovering economy). The Republicans are in a lose-lose situation, and their only win is to block reform and hope for a repeat of 1994, when Clinton's failure set the stage for a GOP takeover.
With Obamacare on the ropes, there will be a temptation for opponents to let up on their criticism, and to try to appear constructive, or at least responsible. There will be a tendency to want to let the Democrats' plans sink of their own weight, to emphasize that the critics have been pushing sound reform ideas all along and suggest it's not too late for a bipartisan compromise over the next couple of weeks or months.
My advice, for what it's worth: Resist the temptation. This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.
So they play it out. Their backs are against the wall, so they play for time in the hopes they can pull off a win. It's like basketball players fouling to stop the clock when they are behind. For the GOP, their political calculus is that killing the reforms is the same as a win. Stop universal health insurance, perpetuate the abuses of health insurance companies, keep WellPoint profitable, allow the explosion of health costs to continue, and 54 million Americans can stay uninsured for all they care. The fact that there is a measurable human cost to keeping the status quo is irrelevant to them. McCain ran for president under the admirable slogan "Putting Country First," but the GOP's stragegy now is "Putting Party First."
It's predictable, and it was predicted that we would come to this. Fair enough. The Dems in Congress should give up on a hunt for bipartisanhip that doesn't exist and they should pass their bill. Let Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman cast a symbolic "no" vote for the final bill, so long a they vote for cloture. We can't afford to delay, and we can't afford to miss this opportunity.