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Jewish World Review
Sept. 14, 2009
/ 25 Elul 5769
Start over, Mr. President
Start with a clean slate on healthcare. Include Republicans in the process. Act like you were listening to the American people who showed up in droves at August town hall meetings on healthcare. Do something, Mr. President, to illustrate you are more committed to the American people than to a political victory.
The majority of Americans are unhappy with the manner in which President Barack Obama has handled healthcare reform - 52 percent, according to a new Associated Press poll. Not one Republican in Congress supports any of the bills out of the various committees in the House and Senate. And Obama arrogantly shut out all Republicans, avoiding meetings with GOP leaders regarding healthcare legislation since April.
A president who thumbs his nose at the other party on such a hugely important issue as healthcare reform, ignores the cost estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), blames massive public opposition to his proposal on special interests, the gullibility of the American people, Republican scare tactics, Fox News, talk radio, etc., makes it clear why he is tanking in the polls. Stubbornly refusing to accept that Americans oppose ObamaCare is bad enough.
Entertaining a plan to ram it through Congress by way of reconciliation, requiring only 51 votes instead of 60, is political lunacy and possibly borderline immoral.
The argument that Ronald Reagan passed budgets through reconciliation as an excuse to use the same method for passing ObamaCare is what many find so objectionable in this debate, along with the seemingly endless menu of tactics the Democrats are willing to consider in order to achieve a political victory for Obama. Budgets last one year. But ObamaCare is forever - unless the next GOP-led Congress, after a lengthy and laborious process, succeeds in unraveling the mess.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) implored the president to start over and work with Republicans. Obama, in his speech to Congress on Wednesday night, said, "I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open." It's time for Obama to put his money where his mouth is.
In sincere bipartisan fashion, Obama could enjoy a legitimate victory on healthcare by passing a handful of measures that can make a measurable difference, as outlined by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.): allow Americans to keep their health insurance when they switch jobs, to shop nationwide for insurance rather than be confined to only that which is offered in their state, cap malpractice payouts to help contain costs for everybody and give a tax break to the self-employed buying insurance on their own.
And by the way, if there is so much waste and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid - enough to pay nearly all of the $900 billion tab for ObamaCare, as the president claims is the case - isn't he duty-bound to find that waste and abuse first - with or without a political victory on healthcare reform? The American people should demand it.
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JWR contributor Cheri Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has managed congressional campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. She appears on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News as a GOP strategist.
© 2009, Cheri Jacobus