Politico is reporting that Democrats are preparing to compromise on ObamaCare. The bad news for Democrats is that the compromises being considered won’t eliminate the existing opposition to the various bills currently making their way through Congress. The awful news for Democrats is that Howard Dean is promising to recruit candidates to run in the primaries against anyone who doesn’t vote for the so-called public option.

With August dominated by angry faces and raised voices at town hall meetings, influential Democrats began laying the groundwork for the fall, particularly with the party’s liberal base, saying they may need to accept a less-than-perfect bill to achieve health reform this year.

“Trying to hold the president’s feet to the fire is fine, but first we have to win the big argument,” former President Bill Clinton said Thursday at the Netroots Nation convention, a gathering of liberal activists and bloggers who will prove most difficult to convince. “I am pleading with you. It is OK with me if you want to keep everybody honest…But try to keep this thing in the lane of getting something done. We need to pass a bill and move this thing forward.”

“I want us to be mindful we may need to take less than a full loaf,” he said after recounting the political troubles that followed his failed reform effort in 1994.

It won’t be an easy sell. Even former national party chairman Howard Dean this week threatened Democrats who don’t support the public insurance plan with the prospect of primary challenges, the first rumblings of what could devolve into a Democratic civil war over health care.

This has all the makings of calling a meeting of DNC superactivists, then putting them in a circular formation before handing out the weapons and ammunition. People are anything but happy. Many are disillusioned. Others are outright frustrated. In the winter of 2008, Democrats held a distinct enthusiasm gap over Republicans. In the summer of 2009, that intensity gap has swung 180 degrees.

Here’s what the Democrats’ disillusionment sounds like:

Let’s face the harsh reality: Obama has blown health care reform, big time. The opportunity of a lifetime has been squandered. The most recent revelations about backroom deals with Pharma and the other vendors of medical services drops the curtain on any hope of serious change in our costly and inefficient non-system. This is a painful admission to make. Not only does the country remain handicapped by grossly sub-par arrangements for health delivery, we also are burdened with a president who has been discredited as a progressive dedicated to a betterment of how we conduct public business.

This Huffington Poster certainly has the right to be disappointed. He’d better prepare himself for greater disappointment, though, because this is just the beginning. Two of the things that aren’t being satisfactorily addressed in the current legislation are tort reform and Medicare. Tort reform won’t happen because Democrats are beholden to the trial attorneys lobby.

President Obama wanted Medicare cuts to pay for a significant chunk of whatever health care reform legislation emerged. That’s what fired seniors up. That’s what motivated them to turn out en masse at the Democrats’ towhall meetings. Until Democrats do something to fix Medicare without simply cutting its budget, the Democrats’ compromises won’t mean a thing. If the Democrats try passing something with significant Medicare cuts, they’d better brace themselves for a disastrous 2010 election cycle.

That’s before we start talking about another important group:

There is no guarantee, either, that progressive House and Senate members wouldn’t make good on their promise to oppose a bill without a public insurance plan.

At this point, Howard Dean is the progressives’ greatest ally. He’s also capable of self-destructive behavior. One thing that I’ve talked with a number of people about recently is what the Obama administration’s strategy is to cobble together a coalition with enough Blue Puppies and enough progressives. At this point, I don’t think that there is a strategy that can be deployed that gets to 218 in the House.

Meanwhile, John Murtha is saying that health care might not get to a final vote until January:

Speaking in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, Murtha said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted a health-care bill passed before the current August recess. “She said we’re going to have it before we left,” Murtha said. “We said, ‘No, no, we want some time to think about this.’ We’re taking some time to make sure it’s done right. I don’t know that we’ll get something done before January, and even then we may not get it done. We’re going to do it right when it’s finally done.”

Despite all the negativity directed towards the Democrats’ plans, this isn’t a time for Republicans to get complacent. Now’s the time to highlight the Patients’ Choice Act, the bill being co-sponsored in the House by Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes and by Dr. Tom Coburn and Richard Burr in the Senate.

In fact, if I were advising Republicans, I’d advise them to hold lots of townhalls, tarting in October, highlighting the PCA. Holding high profile townhall meetings this fall will get people’s attention. It’ll also prove to people that Republicans are the party of inexpensively-priced solutions.

There’s a saying now that a trillion is the new billion. People are making it sound like huge increases in the budget are inevitable. I’m rejecting that thinking. While I agree that big deficits are part of the future for awhile, I also think that it’s entirely possible that people who are thirsting for inexpensive solutions to today’s problems are willing to see significant cuts in federal spending.

That’s why I think, if we run a smart campaign, we can put Democrats on the wrong side of this important issue. If our campaign message is that bigger government spending, whether it’s local, state or federal spending, erodes our liberties, then we’ll win lots of races in 2010. Part of that campaign requires us to cite specific examples of how government intrusion into our lives reduces the amount of decisions we’re allowed to make. (Notice the wording I just used.)

It’s important that we emphasize the fact that better results happen when we’re making decisions for ourselves rather than entrusting things to bureaucrats. The level of distrust in DC is high. That’s because Democrats have recently relied on provably false talking points too much.
The people attending the townhalls that the Agenda Media, the DNC and Nancy Pelosi are calling angry mobs and the like know more about what’s in H.R. 3200 than do members of Congress. When Claire McCaskill said that President Obama doesn’t want single-payer health care, people immediately replied that they’d seen the videos, one from 2003, the other from 2007.

When we put things in that context, why wouldn’t people want to maintain control of as much decisionmaking as possible?

Public support for the current bill will collapse because it fails the cost-benefit analysis test. Political support for the current legislation will collapse because enough politicians will reject unity and pick re-election.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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