Next Tuesday, Massachusetts elects a new Senator, and the polls indicate that it will be close. If Scott Brown wins, he won't be voting for the Senate version of the health care bill that the Senator currently in the seat, Paul Kirk, voted for. The other candidate, Martha Coakley, supports the current version of the bill. This is very much a Democrats versus Republicans situation, complicated as always by the ins and outs of Massachusetts politics. But the uncertainty has got the legislators responsible for the current version of the health care reform bill quite nervous.
Capitol Hill's newspaper Roll Call reports that the President spent yesterday huddled in the White House with Congressional leaders trying to reach some kind of deal. Speaker Pelosi came out of the eight-hour meetings saying that there had been "significant progress", but time will tell on that.
It certainly seems like the health care reform bill is still headed toward passage this week, but new problems arise every day.
As the negotiations between House and Senate on a compromise health care reform bill continue, the President of the United States finds himself in the position of trying to sell the current plan to labor unions, who don't like the tax on high-end health care plans that partially funds it.
As if having to placate his political allies were not difficult enough, there is the problem of a special election for a Massachusetts Senate seat next week, which just might decrease the Democratic Senate majority by a crucial one.
All of the news on health care reform today seems to be people deciding how they're going to pay for it. The House of Representatives had planned to pay for the bill by taxing people with high incomes, but the Senate is not amenable to that. So the House is trying something different: increasing the Medicare payroll tax.
The Senate plan is to tax expensive health care plans, the so-called "Cadillac" plans. The House really, really doesn't like this idea. This may be the next big dispute among legislators working on health care reform, not that it needed another one.