It's not just the Republicans who will have some new choices confronting them if Scott Brown emerges as the victor in the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. The Democrats will face a decision, too, about whether to pull back or press ahead with their legislative agenda.
The outlines of the debate are already there. Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat from the Bronx, tells the Daily News that a loss by Democrats in Massachusetts would force a quick House vote on health care. "I'm telling you, Massachusetts, if it goes wrong, is going to be a big catalyst to push a vote," said Bronx Rep. Eliot Engel, who is among many in the House frustrated with how long the Senate took. "They will tell us that it's now or never, we've gotta have a bill, we've gotta do this, we've gotta do that."
A New York Times news article opined that "With the chances growing that the election in November would end the 60-vote majority Democrats enjoy in the Senate -- the practical threshold for being able to overcome united Republican opposition -- the president and his party face additional urgency to make progress on his agenda this year." One person emailed me to comment that it didn't seem to have occurred to the Times that Mr. Obama and the Democrats might want to rethink their agenda so they don't get thrown out of office, rather than ramming it through quickly now before the election.
David Brooks writes that if the Democrats try to pass health care after losing the Senate race in Massachusetts, it would be "political suicide. It would be the act of a party so arrogant, elitist and contemptuous of popular wisdom that it would not deserve to govern."
James Capretta, who blogs health care at The New Atlantis, is skeptical of some of the legislative scenarios that have the Democrats pushing through an ObamaCare bill after a Massachusetts loss. He suggests instead: "if Brown were to win today, it need not be a permanent setback for the president or congressional Democrats. They could do the smart thing and take the voters' message to heart. Start over, shelve the ideological ambition, and work with Republicans on a sensible and targeted plan. That would leave them with a fighting chance to get through November 2010 with heavy losses instead of total annihilation."