Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Future of Health Care Reform

Does Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts kill health care reform? Not necessarily. First of all, as I pointed out yesterday, the Democrats still have a 60-vote majority in the Senate until the election results are certified, which will probably take at least ten days. So they could pass the bill if they moved fast enough.

But there's another, even more important way forward: make the bill so popular that even some Republicans have to vote for it. President Obama can do that with the kind of rhetorical and leadership skills he displayed so well during the election campaign.

If I had President Obama's ear, here's what I would say:

Under President Bush, the Republicans never had more than 55 seats in the Senate and Bush got pretty much everything he wanted. Heck, he got us to go to war against Iraq, on the ground that terrorists from other countries had attacked us! And that was when the Republicans had just 49 seats in the Senate.

How did he do it? Well, for one thing, when Bush wanted something, you sure knew what it was, and he mentioned it every day. Every day, President Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld, and Condaleeza Rice, and Paul Wolfowitz were out there telling us that it was essential that we invade Iraq. Their case was totally weak, but they talked it up so much that the Senate was compelled to vote for it.

So why not try the same strategy? Talk about health care every day. You, and Kathleen Sebelius (the Secretary of HHS), and Regina M. Benjamin (the Surgeon General), and other appropriate senior officials should explain every day why America needs health care reform.

You certainly have a stronger case than Bush did for the Iraq war. You also have the rhetorical gifts to make that case. You can make the public demand health care reform. And then the Senate will have to vote for it.

Just remember: Yes we can!

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