Thursday, September 10, 2009
We Need Bipartisan Health Reform...If Possible
A lot of Democrats are so frustrated by the difficulty they’ve faced in passing healthcare reform. So they’re willing to write a bill, and use reconciliation to get it through, thereby eliminating any need for bipartisanship. Bad idea.
First, something as big as healthcare reform should have bipartisan support. Not only among Republican members of congress, but among Republican voters in the general electorate. I’d hate to see so big a reform be a party line vote.
There’s also a strategic reason. Democrats won’t be in the majority forever. Perhaps, not even in four years. Already, there are Republicans promising to undo whatever Obama does. If Democrats can get healthcare through on a party-line vote now, then Republicans could potentially achieve repeal on a similar party-line vote. The Republican base would enthusiastically back it.
Now perhaps the Republicans in Congress won’t support any meaningful reform—a real possibility. In that case, Democrats should try and craft a bill that appeals to as many Republicans as possible among the general population. If healthcare reform has some support among regular Republicans, then the Republican leadership would have a hard time repealing it. Some Republicans would join with independents and Democrats to demand that the reforms stay.
Programs like social security and Medicare have never been repealed exactly because they retain bipartisan support. The social security act passed with 77 votes, and Medicare passed with 70 votes. President Bush saw his standing suffer in the polls in 2005 when he tried to tinker with social security; even many Republicans refused to go along with him for fear of angering constituents.
So if at all possible, Democrats should try and get a bipartisan bill for their own good, the good of their country, and the good of healthcare reform.