Congressional Democrats have been sending President Obama some strong signals about what they would like to hear him say in his address. For instance, powerful Finance Committee Chair Sen. Max Baucus today told Republicans that healthcare is moving forward with or without their support. This is something that many Democrats would like to hear the president say.
Here is the video of Baucus courtesy of Think Progress:
Baucus said, “I very much hope and expect there will be some Republicans when I issue the mark next week and when we go to mark-up the final week. My door is open. Irrespective of any Republican that I do think there will be, I will move forward anyway. We have to move forward. … I very much hope and do expect Republicans will be on-board. I don’t know how many, but if there are not any, I am going to move forward in any event.”
Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded ready to act, “It is necessary for us to act. The present situation is unsustainable and as the President has said, “health care reform is entitlement reform.” So, in order for us to reduce the deficit, it is essential that we have real health care reform. So we go forward welcoming our Members back in a series of caucuses and meetings. We will be prepared to bring our three bills together in the House to prepare to meet the Senate in conference.”
I think President Obama needs to stand before this Congress tonight and, instead of asking for cooperation, he needs to let Republicans know that the train is getting ready to leave the station, and they are running out of opportunities to get on board. It is difficult to understand why Republicans would still refuse to support healthcare reform, even if the public option is removed. Congressional Republicans claim that there is bipartisan agreement on 80% of the bill, so why, if the public option is removed are they still going to vote against it.
The answer is electoral politics. Republicans decided that the best way to defeat Obama in 2012 was to give him nothing. Even when Obama proposes something that they would normally favor, they will say no. This is a strategy that hardly ever proves effective against an incumbent president. It is also unlikely that Republicans will be able to take back Congress next year, by running on the platform that they said no to healthcare.
If Congressional Republicans were smart, and there is scant evidence that they are, they would get the public option off the table, and then support the rest of the bill, but this isn’t where the GOP is right now. They are moving towards the far right, not the middle. It is this desire to appease the few at the expense of the many that will continue to cost them elections.