Bipartisanship needed on health-care reform
Lawmakers in both parties say President Obama's health-care plan needs Republican votes to pass. That is true in more ways than one.
LAWMAKERS from both political parties say President Obama's health-care plan needs Republican votes to pass. Oh yes it does, and in more than one way.
Technically, the plan may require Republican lawmakers' support to reach the requisite number for passage. But the need for GOP support stretches beyond vote tallying to political ownership of complicated policy change.
For the public to buy the changes, the plan cannot be the Democratic health-care program. It should be at least in part bipartisan. Otherwise, reform becomes an easy political punching bag.
The lessons of the 1993 health-care debacle show an ugly partisan scare campaign can torpedo something the public needs. Health-care costs are rising out of control and millions of Americans are without coverage. The cost of health care is busting individual and public-sector budgets.
Republicans have been more obstructionist and delay-prone because they fear a big government program is not the answer. Some Republicans do not want Obama to have such a big victory. Many Republican amendments are already incorporated into the Senate legislation.
A big fuss has ensued about the deadline for passing such legislation. Dates don't matter as much as a workable plan that attracts support from at least a few Republicans.
The danger for reformers is opponents will use the August intermission to stage a big anti-reform media campaign. Democrats should use the same time to work behind the scenes to make workable changes to the plan and bring some Republicans along.
Reform will benefit Americans of all political stripes. To succeed, the new policies must gain the support of lawmakers in both parties.
Ownership of reform and its many changes matters.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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