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How Health Care Reform Won

The biggest story in health care reform this year has not been the town hall meetings, or President Obama’s big speech on health care. It’s that the Senate Democrats have decided they’re going to pass a bill. You just haven’t heard much about this story because it’s mostly taken place behind closed doors. (Click here to read Michelle Cottle's devastating and definitive take on health care reform scourge Betsy McCaughey.)

Yesterday’s Roll Call has some details. Here’s what I think is the key passage:

As a fallback, Senate Democratic leaders have stepped up their pressure on centrists to stick with the party on procedural votes. At a minimum, leaders have asked all 60 Democrats to allow them to bring a health care bill to the floor in order to make sure Republicans cannot filibuster it.

Democratic Senate aides familiar with the thinking of Conference moderates said centrists want to vote for a health care reform bill — even one that is politically problematic — because it appeals emotionally to their inner Democrat.

A month ago I wrote that it’s nearly impossible to see health care reform failing because it would entail a Democrat voting to filibuster the central progressive goal of the last sixty years. That proposition was looking shaky for a while because there were some Democratic Senators who acted as if they actually wanted to kill health care reform. (Hi, Senator Conrad.) But they’re all now pretty clearly acting like they really want to pass something.

It’s very strange. We’ve had months of sturm and drang, and massive attention focused on the question, Whither health care reform? It’s just quietly turned into a fait accompli.

Click here to read Jonathan Chait on how conservatives demagogue can health care and still feel good in the morning. Click here to read TNR's latest health care coverage on The Treatment.