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Specter A Yes Vote On Health Reform?

Ezra Klein thinks Arlen Specter is looking more and more like a "yes" vote on health reform.

There were, Ezra notes, some curious references to health care in Specter's press conference on Tuesday and Obama's on Wednesday night. And then there's Specter's own recent history:

Arlen Specter has had a tough few years. In 2005, he was diagnosed with an advanced form of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Chemotherapy took months. His hair fell out. His friend John Sununu shaved his own head in solidarity. But treatment was successful, or seemed so. In 2008, however, the cancer returned. His second round of treatment ended last July. It's been, in other words, a few years of the sort that leave you rather impressed with the importance of health care coverage. And that seems to have been Specter's takeaway. In his press conference yesterday, he ticked off his interests in this order: "I’ve been deeply involved in health care reform, and global warming, climate control, and immigration, and will continue to be so." A paragraph later, he said that "one matter that especially concerns me is medical research."

And it's not just rhetoric. When Specter helped broker the stimulus deal, he took a special interest in funding medical research. His centrality to the compromise was singularly responsible for $10 billion going to the National Institute of Health.

Me? I think Ezra is right.

--Jonathan Cohn