Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Presidents Q&A with House Republicans

If you missed the Presidents Q&A with the House Republicans which was broadcast live on C-span here it is. It is worth watching.

While the President has not moved to the center, I think he has come to a realization that he will have to work with Republicans if he is going to achieve anything, now that he does not have a super majority.

To hear a great question from our own Marsha Blackburn on the topic of health care, go to 29:31 in the video. She asks the question I wanted asked. The President’s response is disappointing but at least the question got asked.

While there is still a big gulf between our side and the other side, I do think (and you may call me naïve) it is possible to find common ground and achieve meaningful health care reform. Many of us share with the President a desire to lower health care cost and cover more people. What we have now is not sustainable. We must have reform. If the Democrats will abandon their 2700 page health care bill that radically remakes health care delivery, I think we can find areas of agreement that can improve health care delivery, cover more people, and lower cost. The problem is real. Reform is necessary.

It is worth watching this video to see the President’s remarks on the tone of partisanship and to see what he has to say about the danger of populism. “Danger of populism” is not a term the President uses, but that is what he is talking about. The same forces that were unleashed to defeat health care reform could also be used to make it impossible to advance any entitlement reform. This same anger could be used to defeat worthwhile and needed international trade agreements. I am in full support of the tea party movement and the grassroots effort that stopped the Obama revolution. I went to the tea party protest and consider myself part of the movement. But, in an environment that fosters anger and resentment necessary compromises and governance can be much more difficult.

If the President will step back from his radical agenda, I think pragmatist need to step forward and work with the President in areas where we can find agreement. Compromise is not a dirty word. Just as Republicans worked with President Bill Clinton to achieve welfare reform and just as Reagan worked with a Democratic congress and Tip O'neal to reform Social Security, Republicans can work with this President to solve the problems that face our nation if the President will not try to have it all his way.

There are times in this video where I think the President still comes across as lecturing and arrogant. I also think he appears as phony when he criticizes republicans for using polling and focus groups to frame the debate. He does say however, “But that is how we operate.” So, I am going to assume his remarks were also a self criticism.

It may all be for show but I think the President is trying to create a tone of civility and cooperation and respect. I don’t think the Republicans and the President are going to see eye to eye on many issues but I do think, or at least I hope, that the President has realized he must deal with the other side of the aisle. I am sure we would not have seen this outreach if the Democrats had not lost their super majority. There is nothing like a slight power shift to generate a spirit of compromise. If the President had never had his super majority to begin with, he may have governed from the center all along and worked with Republicans from the very start and not tried to ram legislation through without input from the other side.

To his credit, the President went into the lion’s den, met with the Republicans and took their hard questions. That is a start. We should hit the restart button, try again and see if he was sincere.

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1 comment:

  1. In a fit of the obvious, it struck me that passage of health care is the responsibility of those who favor it, not those who oppose it. As someone who believes that HCR is fundamentally a good thing, the fault for not coming up with a package must squarely be placed on the Democratic majority. The pursuit of the perfect over the good enough doomed it from within. We Democrats need to look to ourselves and quit blaming people who never wanted to do it in the first place.