Bad dog. You might be here awhile.
Bad dog. You might be here awhile. iStockphoto.com
Like the dog who's just bitten the baby, the health overhaul bill passed by the House and Senate is basically chained up in Congress' back yard. It's still there, barking away, but no one really wants to let it back inside.
Coming out of their weekly policy lunches today, all Democratic senators seemed to want to talk about was their jobs bill. That's the shiny new tricycle they hope to ride back to popularity with the voters. Health care? That's SO five minutes ago.
Health care "is still very much a priority," insisted Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan "But right now we've got to be focusing on the immediate jobs and the economy."
Asked if there was anything new to report on the health negotiations between House and Senate Democrats, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, the Senate's assistant majority leader, responded simply, "no."
Meanwhile, President Obama was up in New Hampshire still trying his best to keep hope alive. "I'm happy to defend the fact that we need to provide 30 million people with access to coverage. I'm happy to defend the need to provide small businesses an ability to pool so that they can have the same purchasing power that the big companies have and drive down their premiums and drive down their
rates for their employees. I'm happy to have these debates; I just want to see what else you've got," he said.
It seems a continuation of his new strategy to discuss what's at stake on health care, rather than let the torturous legislative process take center stage. Last week he met with House Republicans, tomorrow he meets with Senate Democrats, cameras and all.
So what is the timeline for getting back to healthcare? It seems to be slipping further into the future. Last week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said leaders would settle on a plan by the end of this week. At today's meetup with reporters he said, "Did I say that? I was in error."
Meanwhile, the dog chained in the back yard isn't getting any happier. Anyone know a Cesar Millan out there who can rehabilitate health care bills?