In the Arena

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Looks like the charade of including Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi in the health care negotiations is over. It is not impossible that other Republicans who are not Senators from Maine can be located to support health care reform. But it’s also entirely possible that the Republicans will continue their kamikaze ways and oppose a reform that is likely to prove very popular with the American public when it’s enacted (which is why, in truth, the GOP nihilists oppose it).

There are still some real problems the legislation is facing, especially if the rougher edges of the House bill–insufficient attention to cost controls, the public option–aren’t sanded down. More than a few Democratic Senators and Representatives are going to have to summon a bit of courage to vote for any form of health reform, especially those from moderate to conservative states (like Arkansas where 55% prefer Rush Limbaugh’s vision of America to Barack Obama’s, according to a recent poll). But it should be possible to find a more plausible funding source now, like the President’s wise proposal that tax deductions for the wealthy be limited to the same rate as paid by the middle class. My guess is that the final bill will enable the Democratic caucus to be fairly united on this, and that a few Republicans will join in–and that we will have health care reform this year. It is liberating, however, to finally shed the dead weight of Grassley’s know-nothingism and cowardice.

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