Is Health Care Compromise a Lost Cause?

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus said today that his "gang of six" - three Democrats and three Republicans - is "on track" to reach a compromise in the debate over health care reform.

But other Democrats are beginning to think bipartisanship on this issue is a lost cause, reports CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes.

Worried that the White House is caving under pressure from the right, some liberal democrats are now pushing for a "go it alone" strategy on health care reform that does not include Republicans at all.

"Over and over again the Republicans have said no," said Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. "I don't think that they want reform."

The final straw may have been a comment by a top Republican senator, Jon Kyl.

"There is no way Republicans are going to support a trillion dollar bill," Kyl told reporters - even if Democrats drop the public insurance option that the GOP so strongly opposes.

"I actually don't think there's any peril in opposing the president's plan at the moment," said Republican Strategist Ed Gillespie. "I think that stopping something bad from happening is the right place to be right now."

Read more of CBSNews.com's coverage of the debate over health care reform.

Liberals were already angry that the president seemed to be backing off his demand for a strong public option to compete with private insurance.

They're defending the contentious proposal at their own town halls. In one exchange that's gone viral online, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., excoriates a questioner at a Dartmouth, Mass. town hall who compares President Obama to Hitler.

"Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy - as Obama has expressly supported this policy. Why are you supporting it?" the questioner asks.

Frank's reply: "When you ask me that question I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer a question with a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time? You want me to answer the question? Yes, as you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the first amendment that this kind of vile contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. Maam, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

But "going it alone" would be a risky strategy. Even some democrats oppose a public option. And reformers may need a few Republican votes if they want to carry the day.

"It's quite possible that the critical votes in health care are going to be decided by one vote," said Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.

But the only true bipartisan effort - a group of six senators trying to reach a compromise - took a hit when the leading Republican in the group embraced one of the most damaging myths about reform.

"We should not have a government program that determines if you are going to pull the plug on grandma," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Grassley insisted today that he is still committed to finding compromise. But in this environment that's getting harder and harder to do.
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