) -- Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy is not a new American mandate for the Republican agenda.
Whatever the pundits say, this is the voice of the 6.5 million folks in Massachusetts speaking not all 304 million Americans.
That said, Brown's victory will have a national impact because he replaces a liberal icon in Congress and breaks the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority.
Some are interpreting this as the death knell for President Obama's health reform agenda because the Democrats no longer control enough Senate seats to thwart Republican efforts to forestall votes. Democrats had enjoyed the magic three-fifths majority of 60 votes that allowed them to ram through their agenda when everyone in the party fell in line.
I don't think that's the case either. The notion that health care reform is dead hugely underestimates Obama.
Nonetheless, we started to see a
health care rally
yesterday as the Massachusetts election unfolded, and many are expecting
health care investors to cheer Brown's win today.
We may indeed see more gains for HMO stocks like
and some analysts have singled out drug makers like
as having much to gain from the defeat of health care reforms.
and began a campaign to paint the plan as an expensive, ill-conceived proposal that will raise the cost of health care for all Americans. The insurance group leading the attacks is called America's Health Insurance Plans, which represents 1,300 insurance companies, including big names like
Yet even the power of the insurance lobby, which quashed several previous efforts to change the U.S. health care system, proved unable to stop the momentum this time and the Senate and House both passed health reform measures. What remains is to hammer out differences between the two proposals and approve a final version to be sent to Obama to sign into law.
Sure, the loss of a pro-reform vote in the Senate may make this more difficult, but the Democrats still control 59 out of 100 Senate votes and 256 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
Brown's victory represents Massachusetts' endorsement of his anti-reform agenda, but let's not overstate the power of one state and one junior senator.
Health care reform is not dead, yet.
--Written by Glenn Hall in New York.
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