WASHINGTON -- As profound divisions emerge among Democrats over health reform following Republican Scott Brown's victory on Tuesday, leading progressives are pleading they pass a bill, warning that failure will be disastrous.
"If the Democrats, either from the left or the right, walk away from reform, they will get slaughtered in November," wrote Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, one of the most popular liberal bloggers. "They'll get it from the people who want reform, from the people who never wanted reform and from sensible people all over who just think they can't get anything done."
"Democrats are not... dealing with the ideological divisions in the country -- which is what the Tea Party movement is about," Marshall added. "They're also losing a big swathe of the population that is losing faith that the Democrats can govern, that they can even deliver on the reforms and policies they say are necessary for the national good."
Marshall gave Obama mixed reviews after the White House issued a statement late Tuesday to the Huffington Post over the importance of passing healthcare reform.
"The White House has made clear that health care can't be dropped and that the House should pass the senate bill," he wrote. "But it's speaking feebly. David Axelrod is saying he thinks it's the right way to go. The president has said nothing. At most the White House is speaking with all the authority and volume of blind quotes. Which is to say they're barely speaking at all."
"The only thing that is going to stop the rush for the exits is a clear statement from the president," he added. "But so far, silence."
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein meanwhile, pulled up an old quote from the late Ted Kennedy in his message to Democrats not to give up now.
"If the Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition, we will lose--and deserve to lose," Kennedy said in 1980. "The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties."
The White House also believes the bill must pass, and the best option for Democrats is to let the people "see...the value of it."
"We need to move forward aggressively, continuing on job creation, and on financial regulatory reform," Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod said late Tuesday. "But we should finish health care because the caricature of that bill is there and everyone who voted for it will have to live with that."
David Plouffe, the architect of Barack Obama's historic 2008 victory, also says there's no turning back now for Democrats.
"If you run away from it, you're still going to get attacked," Plouffe said, according to ABC News.
While Democrats like Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) are highly skeptical about staying the course on health care, others are determined to.
“I am committed, as Chairman of the Senate HELP committee, to work with my colleagues in the coming days to redouble our efforts to pass fundamental health reform this year because far too much is at stake for American families," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in a statement e-mailed to Raw Story.
"In the 100 year struggle to provide health insurance to all Americans, we have never been closer to finishing this long overdue task, and one result in one race will not lessen our resolve to successfully finish this fight this year."
The options for Democrats in passing health reform now, with 41 Senate Republicans eager to filibuster it, are limited. One option is to pass the Senate bill through the House, which would allow President Obama to sign it into law without another Senate vote.
Another path is reconciliation, which would demand a considerable restructuring of the bill but allow it to pass through the Senate with a 51-vote majority. The third is to delay the seating of GOP Senator-elect Scott Brown and allow the current 60-seat Democratic majority to vote on the merged bill.
House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the Senate health care bill is "clearly better than nothing," signaling he's open to the first option.