Fate of health reform in question as State of the Union looms

If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how President Obama handles the subject of healthcare reform in tonight's State of the Union address. One option is to simply shift gears, focusing instead on the fixing the floundering economy and job creation, the Boston Globe reports. After the election last week of Republican Scott Brown to fill the late Ted Kennedy's (D) Senate seat in Massachusetts, the healthcare reform effort has gone into a virtual tailspin. 

"Clearly, I think Scott Brown's victory has changed the political landscape," said longtime Massachusetts Republican National committee member Ron Kaufman, who also serves as an executive with government affairs strategy firm Dutko Worldwide. "People weren't listening, and if they don't, they'll be buried." 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) even went as far to say that "there is no rush" in terms of getting a healthcare bill to the president, at this point. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed a similar sentiment, according to ABC News, but said that healthcare reform remains "on the front burner. 

"[T]here is a feeling that we have to do something," Schumer added. 

However, the need for Obama and Congress to do something could be more politically motivated than anything, at least according to White House adviser David Plouffe, who served as Obama's 2008 campaign manager. He calls the healthcare plan a "caricature," and thinks that if Democrats try to walk away now, those who supported the plan will only see the downside of things. 

"We have to deliver," Plouffe said. "If we don't deliver, I think voters will rightfully say, you know, ‘What's going on here?'" 

According to ABC, plans for a last-ditch effort are underway to get the bill fixed under reconciliation, which means only 51 votes would be needed instead of 60. However, that process also would require the House to tweak things it didn't like about the Senate's bill, a proposition that doesn't sit well with several Democrats who don't want provisions to be cut. 

To learn more:
- read this Boston Globe piece
- check out this ABC News article

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