Not only are most Republicans dead set against the inclusion of a government-run insurance option as a part of the overhaul which Democrats tend to favor but they also oppose many of the tax-hike options being discussed. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member on Finance who has worked hand in glove with Baucus on the issue, has expressed serious reservations about tax increases and the public plan option.
Additionally, several moderate Democratic Senators from conservative-leaning states are skittish, putting them in direct conflict with their liberal counterparts, among them the influential Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.). Schumer is actively pushing a public plan option intended to bridge the partisan divide, but he has yet to find any GOP takers.
The outside interest groups are also poised to engage in the debate over health care and could inflame tensions on both sides. Over the Memorial Day recess, liberal and conservative groups escalated their campaigns, running ads attempting to sway Senators and promising political retribution for those who dont play ball.
With large majorities in the House and Senate and a popular president in the White House, Democrats appear to have the juice to pass some form of health care reform by years end.
Recognizing this, the Republican strategy in the Senate is to continue engaging in the bipartisan discussions, while pushing their priorities for health care reform, including insurance that is affordable, a system based on consumer choice and a program in which there is no delay or denial of care.
Republicans predict that once the pieces of the reform package emerge, there will be ample opportunity for the GOP to push back.
We feel that the further the debate goes and the the more details that come out, the worse its going to get for the Democrats, a senior Republican Senate aide said.