Obama health care summit: Obama should focus on Democrats, not Republicans
Despite Obama’s focused aggression at the health care summit, it was not focused at the right people, the ones whose votes will control the final outcome.
As political theater goes, Thursday’s widely anticipated healthcare summit between President Obama and Democratic and Republican legislators was one of the more precisely scripted shows you will ever see, and on that score it was as successfully executed as a Broadway play on opening night.Skip to next paragraph
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Yet, on the question of whether the event will actually win new votes to enacting broad healthcare reform? The answer is a decisive “no.”
Despite being Democrats’ No. 1 priority since retaking control of the federal government last year, Congress has been unable to pass a healthcare reform package. A large share of the blame falls on Mr. Obama’s shoulders, as he sat on the sidelines for months and allowed Congress to endlessly dither and squabble without making definitive progress. When passage finally seemed at hand, the stunning election of Sen. Scott Brown last month assured that Democrats did not have the votes to clear a final bill in the Senate and set back the process, perhaps irreparably.
The healthcare summit arrived as the president’s response to the new political reality brought on by Mr. Brown’s election, and it is a perfect demonstration both of the president’s leadership style and why that style of governing is poorly equipped to achieve the policy end result that the president and congressional Democrats so desperately desire.
As his performance Thursday shows, Obama seems to believe that using his soothing, logical, and ceaselessly precise manner on members of Congress in negotiations and the heavy application of his immense rhetorical talents on the public will generate sufficient pressure and political will to move a final healthcare bill to his desk.
Obama and the Democrats may very well have won converts in the public with the summit. The president was good in advancing his positions and came off very well, but that doesn’t mean that the summit did anything to advance the passage of healthcare.
The fact is that the debate over healthcare reform in Congress has been going on for nearly a year now and all sides are deeply dug in. Before Thursday,
Republicans in Congress were already nearly universally opposed to the Democrats’ legislation. And with the majority party flailing and the retaking of Congress looking increasingly possible, politically, the GOP has no reason to help Democrats enact a bill that is patently unacceptable to many in the Republican caucus.
Because the Democrats have complete ownership of the healthcare issue and any failures that may come of it will be laid at their feet, passage will depend on the votes in their caucuses.