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Not Giving Up on the GOP

By John Martin - Posted on 10 September 2009

President Obama is not giving up on the GOP.  Two and a half years of (typically) unjustified and brutal attacks have not broken his desire to forge a common-sense, post-partisan government.  This after Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and others have made it clear they won't support ANY Democratic-sponsored health legislation, and after the left flank of Obama's party have come to realize their leader is not the liberal they swore he was.

Last night's speech was more Republican than it was Democrat.  If you're the type of person who's convinced that everything the President said was a lie, then that probably won't come as much consolation.  If you're the type of person who realizes Obama is already running as a centrist for 2012, then there was a lot you should like about what he had to say last night.  Here are my favorties:

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else.

Now there's some honest talk about the federal budget.  NOBODY from either party ever wants to say that we're in deep financial trouble because of Medicare and Medicaid.  As far as I'm concerned, this is our only long-term fiscal problem.  I'd be willing to triple the amount we spend on pork barrel projects if it meant we'd get these huge entitlements under control.

But what we've also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards their own government. Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Well, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care. Now is the time to deliver on health care.  

This is still the promise of the Obama presidency.  Very few members of Congress talk about putting petty partisan concerns behind us and adopting "the best ideas of both parties."  Here's hoping the final legislation will actually contain some ideas from McCain, Grassley, Hatch and from Republicans Obama didn't get the chance to mention last night.

There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. [You lie!]  It's not true. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up -- under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

Here's where Obama could sink his legacy.  If there is any hint that some of this $900 billion legislation will go towards helping illegals, killing unborn babies, or forcing doctors and pharmacists into providing types of care they don't believe in, then Obama will be exposed as a liar.  Just as he promised he wouldn't sign into law any health reform that increases the deficit, I hope he's smart enough to reject any legislation that ultimately fulfills the hard right's expectations of him.


Someone here (Kelly? Suzi?) pointed out that this was very likely a clarion call for the Blue Dog Democrats. That's particularly astute, because they are especially crucial in the Senate, whether cloture vote or reconciliation vote is invoked. He called on progressives to (essentially) chill regarding the public option, addressed many of the moderates' concerns, and issued a call to action. By framing this as a crisis for the people and the nation, he says to them, "Look, I'm not asking you to put party before principle. I'm asking you to put country before both."

Given some of the Blue Dogs' responses, it seems to have had some positive effect.


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Agreed.  He needs somewhere near 100% of conservative Dems on board for this to have a chance.

I'm under no illusions that large numbers of Republicans will back whatever results.  I think one or two Republican Senators and no Republicans in the house might be a good guess.  I do hope, however, that some small percentage of the reasonable Republican electorate will say to themselves "Wow. Obama isn't nearly as radical as some people try to claim he is," and will eventually come on board to support him.



I am bummed to see my "pet" Republican Paul Ryan WI say on his FB page that he took last night's speech as "He said (basically told) those of us with alternative reforms that if you think we should go in a different direction, I'm not going to... work with you."

We all know that is NOT TRUE and I hate to see someone who has a chance of being a moderate Republican candidate go all wacky and extreme. : (


-formerly klaf

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