TUESDAY OCTOBER 26, 2010
You can’t turn on a television news channel anymore without hearing a story about the latest poll numbers in key congressional races around the country. Who will win? In Nevada, Harry Reid or Sharon Angle? In Delaware, Chris Coons or Christine O’Donnell? There’s plenty of prognosticating on whether the House of Representatives will move from a Democratic majority to a Republican majority under new Speaker-hopeful John Boehner. Most pundits agree the House will move to a substantial Republican majority, while the Senate is projected to remain – just barely – under Democratic rule.
What will it all mean for action on Capitol Hill, and what will it mean for healthcare reform? First, it likely will mean gridlock with little meaningful legislation unless there is bipartisan support among both parties. I haven’t noticed much of a bipartisan spirit in D.C. lately, but that may change. Second, I think there will be action on deficit reduction. That’s an issue the American people feel strongly about, so I think the parties will agree to work on it.
As for healthcare reform, I think it will be tough for anything to proceed aside from minor fixes to the law. Why? First of all, it will be near impossible to get a repeal bill through the Senate if the predictions hold true. Second, President Obama will still be President, and he isn’t going to sign a repeal bill. Expect a veto of any bill that makes its way out of Congress, and neither house will have the numbers to override a presidential veto. Third, the law responds to genuine needs. We have 1.3 million uninsured residents in New Jersey alone, and the reform law is expected to provide coverage to about 923,000 people over a nine-year period. That’s a good thing. And finally, the law actually saves the government money through its provisions to increase efficiency. Repealing certain provisions may actually cost the federal government money. With the focus on deficit reduction, that will be a problem.
So my prediction is the reform law will remain largely intact, with tweaks along the way. Stay tuned to see if my crystal ball is correct.