Yesterday former President Bill Clinton advised President Obama to stand strong when it comes to a including a single payer option in the healthcare reform bill. Clinton urged Obama not to sell the store, just to get 60 votes to get a healthcare reform bill passed.
Here is the audio of President Clinton from Think Progress:
Former President Clinton gave his analysis of how the Senate vote on healthcare might play out, “I think we’re going to get past the filibuster, and I think they’ll be tough enough to go to 51 votes. But they would prefer, for his long-term relationships with Congress, it would be better if we could get the 60 votes. So what I think they’ll do is go for the 60, but if it seems that people are just dug in taking positions that don’t make any sense, then I think they’ll go back to plan B. That would be my preference, because he’s got to think about what it’s going to be like next year, and the year after, and the year after, and all of that.”
Clinton urged Obama to get a good bill, even if it means that he has to use reconciliation, and not get to 60 votes in the Senate, “No, no. I think he will win. If he can’t get a good bill, I wouldn’t give away the store on that. If he can’t get a bill that’s genuine universal coverage, that genuinely is going to cut costs and make health insurers give up some of these unbelievable administrative burdens that they’ve put on people, and that really gets to the guts of the delivery system and does more primary preventive care and actually measures things that work, then I would go for the 51. But I would spend a little time trying to get to 60.”
If there is anyone out there who knows what not to do when trying to tackle healthcare reform it is Bill Clinton, who is offering some wise advice here. Obama should hold out for the best bill possible, because if he gets this wrong, it might be decades before anyone takes another crack at healthcare reform. Obama has the reconciliation process in his pocket. It would look better politically to have 60 votes, but it isn’t necessary.
I think the public option is most necessary to cover the uninsured. It might be an overreach to create a public option that will be used to compete with the private market. It is this point that is causing divide among Senate Democrats.
The Democrats shouldn’t lose focus of the overall goal, which is affordable healthcare for all. In my mind, the danger is that they get themselves bogged down in bickering over the details. The most important thing here is that a bill gets passed that works, and helps people. This is what Bill Clinton was trying to focus attention on.