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Shields and Gerson Review Road Ahead for Health Reform

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, who is also a senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement, break down the biggest stories of the week, including health care reform moves in Congress and President Obama's pondering of a new Afghan strategy.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now: the analysis of Shields and Gerson, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, "Washington Post" columnist Michael Gerson. David Brooks is off tonight.

    Mark, are there going to be 60 votes tomorrow night for the health care bill to go to the floor of the Senate?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    The House…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Did I say House?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    No. The Senate will not consider it unless there are 60 votes. So, there will be 60 votes.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree?

  • MICHAEL GERSON:

    Absolutely. I talked to Republicans on the Hill today. They fully expect that Democrats will vote to consider health care, even if they are not sure what the details are going to be.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Why would the Republicans not vote to consider it at all?

  • MICHAEL GERSON:

    Well, I think that there is a party-line discipline on this issue. They believe that the approach is fundamentally flawed, not just at the margins. So, there is very little…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So, why debate it?

  • MICHAEL GERSON:

    Right. Exactly.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Right.

  • MICHAEL GERSON:

    Right.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What are the major obstacles going to be to get from past tomorrow night to actually to get to enact something by the Senate first and then beyond?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Oh.Well, certainly, Jim, the — there are differences, significant differences, but I don't think life-or-death differences between what passed the House and what passed the Senate. It will come down to financing. It will come down to the exact form of a public option, that is, a public plan that is available to provide insurance or compete with the private insurance companies.

    But I think that, quite honestly, that Senator Reid has maneuvered this quite well. And I think that he has a disciplined Democratic majority behind him. They do fervently want to get Republican support. Senator Snowe, they really — that has been important…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    From Maine, yes.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … just that sense of bipartisanship.

    But that may not be. I think the will is there and I think the imperative is there to pass it in the Senate.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you see 60 votes? In other words, it will still take 60 votes to finally enact something in the Senate, even after it gets on the floor. Do you see 60 votes?