The Times' Obama-Care Optimism Remains Unquenched

Reporter David Herszenhorn's eternal (and so-far misguided) optimism on the prospects for Obama-care once again is burning bright, in Thursday's lead story on health-care reform push, "Showdown Near Health Overhaul Gains Two Votes," as reported by Herszenhorn and long-time health-care reporter Robert Pear.

Herszenhorn has previously written that an Obama health care speech to Congress "marked a clear turning-point in the health care debate, and Democrats in Congress will now try to capitalize on the momentum."

That was written September 10, 2009 - over half a year ago. Eventually Herszenhorn and company might even be right.

Here's the opening to Thursday's lead story (which ran before the selective leak by Democrats of preliminary figures from the Congressional Budget Office claiming Obama-care would actually cut the deficit).

House Democrats are inching toward the majority they need to pass health care legislation, giving them added confidence as they work out the last details of the bill and gird for a showdown as soon as this weekend.

Behind the scenes, Democratic leaders were still working Wednesday to secure backing for the legislation from among roughly three dozen members of the party whose votes are considered to be in play, even as they awaited a final price tag on the bill from the Congressional Budget Office.

But they sought to portray the measure as gaining momentum from the public declarations of support from two Democrats: Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, who had previously opposed it, and Dale E. Kildee of Michigan, who had been among a group seeking tighter restrictions on the financing of insurance covering abortions.

Democratic leaders say they have not nailed down the 216 votes they need for passage, but they are pressing ahead in the belief that they can get them. The House Democratic leader, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, said the House could take a final vote on the legislation by Sunday.

The endorsement from Mr. Kucinich suggested that Democrats who have been pushing for more ambitious legislation might put aside their reservations and unite behind the bill as their best opportunity to secure health insurance for millions of Americans who now lack it. The backing from Mr. Kildee - and new support from nuns who lead major Roman Catholic religious orders - indicated that Democrats were having some success in addressing an issue that has cost the votes of some Democrats who oppose abortion rights.

But House Republicans said they still believed they could block the bill, a top priority for President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Once again, the Times soft-pedals the extreme nature of a move by House Democrats to "deem" a Senate bill passed without actually voting on it, treating it as an innocuous parliamentary maneuver:

Under a two-step plan devised by House Democratic leaders, the House would approve the health care bill passed by the Senate in December, then make changes in a separate bill using a procedure known as budget reconciliation to avoid the threat of a filibuster in the Senate. Republicans like Representative David Dreier of California have accused Democrats of ducking a straight-up vote on the Senate bill, which has provisions that many House Democrats do not like.

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