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Endgame for Obamacare?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
In an on-air conversation with me on Tuesday, Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl, the GOP's whip, reported that the Democrats do not yet have their 60 votes. (The transcript of that interview is

Politico's Mike Allen, in an interview the same day, reported that for the first time doubt is seriously being raised about the prospects of Obamacare passing. (That transcript is here.)

Not surprisingly, the reason for optimism among opponents of Obamacare is the country's decisive rejection of the bill. Every poll shows strong majorities against it, and some of those majorities are stunning, such as the 61 to 36 vote against Obamacare in the latest CNN poll/Opinion Research Poll .

Rather than stage a tactical retreat and begin a genuine attempt at bipartisan agreement on the basis of common ground on health care reform --of which there is a lot-- the president, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are attempting the mother-of-all-jam-downs, with one report surfacing that the White House is threatening Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson with the closure of Offutt Air Force Base if Nelson goes south because of the public-funding of abortion in the Senate bill. (A Nelson spokesman was denying the report on Tuesday night.)

Other Democratic senators like Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln and Virginia's James Webb are no doubt being heavily lobbied by the president and his staff. Lincoln faces the almost certain loss of her seat next November if she votes for cloture and Webb seems to understand that the devastation the bill will bring to seniors is simply irreconcilable with the rhetoric of his campaign three years ago. It is hard to be for the little guy when you are voting to cut gramps' and granny's benefits by a half trillion bucks.

Then there's the left wing that now sees their dream of the public option in ruins, and the consolation prize of an expansion of Medicare also on the junk heap. Howard Dean is calling for the scrapping of the bill in favor of a kamikaze charge at the reconciliation process. The abortion debate is still very much rankling the House radicals who lost that round as well. If anything is going to get through the Congress soon, it will not resemble the left's idea of health care reform. Some will mouth the words "half a loaf" but their leaders will have failed them.

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Thus the president finishes his first year in office with his popularity in free fall, his party dispirited and divided, and almost certain punishment at the polls only 46 weeks away. Some House Democrats are already retiring, and donors would have to be crazy to give money to a Democratic challenger. The coffers at the National Republican Congressional Committee's and hit the "Take Further Action" button in the "Free Our Health Care" box in the right column.

Democrats should go home and enjoy Christmas instead of playing Grinch to the seniors of America by passing this attack on Medicare. But they won't, because the president wants his "legacy law," even if it is built on the betrayal of every Medicare beneficiary as well as future generations burdened by the massive deficits built into Obamacare.

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