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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Via Talking Points Memo, Massachusetts Democrat Bill Delahunt went on television this morning to suggest Democrats break up the health care bill into component parts and vote on them separately:

I think what we're going to have to do is do it on an incremental basis. There are aspects of both bills that have broad support. Some of it bipartisan. I think we take those measures, bring them to the floor and vote on them, and explain them.

OK, let's dispense with this idea right now. As a matter of policy, breaking up the bill into component parts doesn't work, unless you're willing to scale back the bill into almost unrecognizable form. Jon Chait and Paul Krugman have explained why.

But put that aside. Breaking up the bill would be bad politics, too. Right now the Democrats need to move quickly--to finish this debate, which is alienating more voters every day it drags on, and to talk about the economy. Breaking up the bill into pieces merely insures we'll be debating health care into the spring and summer.

For all of the panic in Democratic ranks right now, the reality of the situation is stunningly simple. In the span of twenty-four hours, the House of Representatives--the House in which Democrats command a huge majority, in which liberals actually have some sway, and in which leadership actually has power--could put health care reform on the president's desk for signing.

One lousy vote. One lousy, stinking roll call vote. That's the only hurdle in the way of health care reform.

Are Democrats really willing to give up now?