Are Democrats dialling down expectations on what can be acheived under the banner of healthcare reform this year? Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) seems to be concerned they are.

Rockefeller emerged from the Senate Democrats' weekly luncheon Tuesday afternoon, which featured an appearance by President Barack Obama's communications guru David Axelrod, wondering aloud (perhaps rhetorically) whether the White House's get-it-done message to Congress wasn't bold enough.

"David’s in there -- Axelrod -- saying we’ve got to try to get ‘something.’ So, the new benchmark is, ‘Well, if we can do something, if we can do anything, then we can say we did healthcare reform,’" Rockefeller said.
"Are we getting to the point where, if we do anything, we’ve achieved our purpose?" he said, less than an hour before announcing on a conference call with reporters that he would not vote to support the healthcare reform bill being drafted by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

As has become normal among liberal's, Rockefeller's consternation is largely driven by the fact that Baucus has abandoned the idea of creating a government-run public option insurance program to compete with private insurance companies. Many Democrats are also worried that Baucus's measure -- which is finally due to see the light of day on Wednesday -- does too little to ensure that health insurance would be affordable.

Liberals in Congress and in the grassroots are stilling grinding their teeth over President Barack Obama signalling an openness to a healthcare bill without a public option and at a price tag closer to Baucus's $880 billion than the $1 trillion-plus cost attached to more liberal bills.