Now, Tom Daschle has joined a growing chorus of voices calling for Senate Democrats to pursue health care reform through reconcilliation if the Republicans continue their obstructionist ways. Now I know a lot of people have questioned his loyalty in this fight because of his ties to the health insurance industry, but his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal of all places should put those fears to rest.
If we lack the ability to successfully address the urgent problems of health care in our country, the American people and the rest of the world will rightly question our ability to tackle other challenges, domestic and global. And needless to say, given the dominance of my party in the White House and in Congress, Democrats will be to blame.
By far the best path to success is to continue to pursue a traditional, bipartisan solution. I have great admiration for former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Howard Baker who, earlier this year, demonstrated remarkable strength and leadership in working with me through the auspices of the Bipartisan Policy Center to propose a compromise on comprehensive health-care reform. That compromise—which included focusing on preventive care, controlling costs, creating health-care exchanges, and other ideas—can be a blueprint for progress on health reform in Congress this fall.
However, should Republican intransigence continue, Democrats cannot simply stop. They cannot ignore the human suffering as well as their fiscal responsibility to act. They must focus on the budgetary implications of health reform and use the Senate rules of budget reconciliation to allow a health-care bill move with majority support. The choice between complete legislative failure and majority rule should not pose a dilemma for any Democratic senator.
Republicans who cry foul have only themselves to blame. First, they walked away from the table even though they had many opportunities to participate in White House meetings and in House and Senate committees over the past eight months—and eight years.
Second, they set an ample number of precedents over the past decade in using their majorities then to pass their agenda using the same reconciliation rules in the Senate.
I will keep saying this and I hope people really listen, our best avenue for substantive change in health care is to have the Senate put it through the reconciliation process We can drop some of the ConservaDem dead weights who are bought and paid for by the health insurance lobby and we can make the bill stronger and more effective. Reformers should be pushing against Governor Deval Patrick naming a place holder for Ted Kennedy's seat and for the reconciliation process. It is the best way forward for us by far.