Republican in Massachusetts?

We won’t know until Tuesday night at the earliest, of course, whether Scott Brown actually wins Ted Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts. Several opinion polls, however, show Democrat heir-apparent Martha Coakley in “free fall,” as this story makes clear.

If Brown wins, experts say it will be largely because of independent voters who don’t like what’s happening in Washington, particularly with health care reform – which makes what may happen next particularly troubling.

A Brown victory would take away Democrats’ 60-seat filibuster-proof majority. It would kill the current health reform effort, which right now is at a point where the House and Senate are trying work out differences.

But as this story says, Democrats may react by hurrying to pass a compromise before Brown is seated. If they use a procedure known as “reconciliation,” the House would have to accept the Senate version of the bill. Reconciliation focuses solely on spending and taxes, which means key parts of the bill could be removed.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said what’s left could be “Swiss cheese,” according to the report.

Voters are fickle. Two years ago they swept Democrats to power, mostly likely because of their disgust with Republicans. But if Brown wins because of anger about health care, a messy fast-tracking of the process would only feed that anger, which may lead to more Democratic defeats in November.

Another option would be for Democrats in the House to simply agree to the Senate bill without any changes. (Read about it here.)

Because health reform wouldn’t take effect for years, lawmakers can’t even hope voters are softened after experiencing how wonderful it is before they go to the polls. Some of you have said it’s time to pass some kind of reform, and that apparently any kind of reform will do. That seems totally reckless to me.

What do you think?

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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