Right now the Democrats are letting the Baucus train wreck happen. If he actually manages to turn it into a real bill with the help of some grownup Democrats, great, they go for the 60 votes. If not, they do the public option with 50 votes through reconciliation.
But those Democrats are going to be hard to sell. Already Democrats in the Finance Committee are “letting loose” on Baucus for tuning them out and selling out to the Republicans: Baucus spent all summer giving the Republicans one concession after another, and he is extremely unlikely to make the same sorts of concessions to the Democrats. The Democrats could quite easily be just as obstructionist as Grassley has been, and with much better reason. Rockefeller already rejected the Baucus bill, and another committee member, Cantwell, has come out and rejected it too.
With those two defections, Baucus only has a 12-11 score in the committee, counting Snowe who still hasn’t endorsed the bill. So to get the bill out of committee, let alone the Senate, Baucus needs to win over Snowe, without alienating more Democrats. If Rocky persuades Kerry and Schumer to reject the bill also, it’s dead even if Baucus does get Snowe.
So Baucus needs three miracles: he must get Snowe without losing more Democrats, and then hold 60 votes together on the Senate floor without losing any more public-option Democrats, and persuade Obama to support a bill forcing people to give $700-800 a month to crooked insurers or pay a fine – right after he said he won’t allow a crappy bill.
There are more and more signs that momentum is moving in Obama’s direction, and away from the Baucus compromise. CNN’s poll of polls shows that Obama’s approval numbers have stabilized in the mid-50s despite the attacks. The August teabagger attacks backfired in many respects: the Democratic congressional campaign arm outraised its GOP counterpart and now has more than twice as much money as the Republicans. The DNC is using ad money to call out Republicans who lie about health care; the first big one spanks Tim Pawlenty for his “death-panel” nonsense. Crazed birther Orly Taitz is about to be hit with a contempt of court citation: after the judge in her latest case rejected her frivolous suit, Taitz called the judge a traitor and a puppet. Democrats in both Houses are getting ready to introduce legislation revoking the health insurers’ anti-trust exemption; it is this exemption which allows a single insurer to dominate the market in 38 states, which in turn allows them to overcharge us into the poorhouse (so much for competition). Meanwhile the GOP is out of ideas – in addition to all the lies, they are now saying…reform will never ever pass and if it does they will retake congress, blah blah blah. Polls show the American people don’t believe the GOP lies anymore and are unimpressed by the attacks and the teabaggers, so the GOP trick bag is essentially empty.
Remember this also, for later on: Snowe comes from a blue state that supports the public option, and both she and Collins are dropping in the polls (so we could land them both, some say). And recently Snowe expressed revulsion at the constant badgering she’s getting from the Republicans.