Schieffer: It May Come Down to Waterboarding

The White House is predicting that the long journey to legislation reforming health care soon will be over. On "Face the Nation" Sunday, press secretary Robert Gibbs said that by the end of this week, "We'll be talking about the House having passed that proposal and us being a signature away from health care reform in this country."

But some Democrats -- including House Whip Jim Clyburn, in charging of rounding up votes -- say there are not yet enough confirmed "yes" votes to pass, pending the latest calculations from the Congressional Budget Office on what the latest bill is expected to cost.

CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer said he takes Clyburn's prognosis at his word. "I don't know any independent vote counter who thinks that they have the votes now," he said on "The Early Show" this morning.

"Speaker Pelosi and Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod from the White House are all saying by the end of the week they will have the votes. I think that's going to be a tall fence to climb because they are really going to have to twist some arms. It may take them more than arm twisting with some of the Democrats who voted against this the first time around -- it may take waterboarding or something of that nature -- but they seem confident that they can do that.

"I think we're just going to have to wait and see because these Democrats don't know yet how much this bill is going to cost. They don't know exactly who is going to pay the taxes -- there is no question that some taxes are going up on this. And until they get a clearer outline of exactly what's in this bill, I just don't see how you can say whether or not they're going to be able to get these votes."

Gibbs: By Next Week Health Bill Will Pass (3/14/10) Special Report: Health Care Reform

Republicans are jumping on the lack of clarity in being able to make a prognosis on a health care vote by warning Democrats that they will pay the ultimate price in backing it. In addition to charging President Obama and Congressional Democrats with the "most brazen act of political arrogance since the Watergate year," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., predicted on Face the Nation that if the health reform bill passes, "there will be an instant, spontaneous campaign to repeal it all across the country. It will define every Democratic Congressional race in November. And it will be a political wipeout for the Democratic Party."

Alexander: Dems Are on "Kamikaze Mission" (3/14/10)

Schieffer acknowledged today that there could be a political price paid over this bill, but not necessarily by Democrats.

"The Republicans are saying [to Democrats] you're going to be worse off if this bill passes because it's going to cause a revolt. What you have to remember, while the polls show that people don't like the process that Washington is going through, they don't like this particular form of health care [bill], a lot of people and polls do show that people do want to make health care better."

Schieffer begged off predicting an outcome, except to say "It's going to be a very, very difficult thing to get this done. They may be able to do it. At this point, I think we're just going to have to wait and see."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at and