Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Playing it Smart in Congress?

Harold Meyerson is worried about "time bombs" in the healthcare reform bill:
But there are some provisions in the pending legislation that, if included in the final bill, may well drape Democratic candidates with "Kick Me" signs come November. One of these is the excise tax on more costly health insurance policies, a feature of the Senate bill that President Obama supports but that is opposed by organized labor and most House Democrats. Another is the fine to be paid by individuals who decline any coverage -- it's a relatively small amount (the Senate bill sets it at $95 for the first year) but an issue that could loom large in the political wars to come.
There's something that the Democratic Party can do, however, to try to counter that. The House can pass some clear, simple bills - single issue bills - addressing those issues in a way that will be popular and easily understood by the public - then announce that they need bipartisanship to get the bills passed. Yes, they should use the word "bipartisanship". And they could make clear that all the Republican Party has to do, in the interest of helping the country and its people, is allow an "up or down vote" - even if not one Republican Senator is willing to support "this much needed reform, that will so help our nation's working families in these tough economic times," all the Republicans have to do - really, all four or five Republicans who want to help our nation and its people need to do - is take the modest step of agreeing not to use obstructionist tactics to prevent up-or-down votes.

Make it personal, if necessary, publicly directing the plea to end obstructionism at individual Republican senators whose constituents largely support the legislation (even better if they're in vulnerable seats) - and demand that Republican candidates running against Democratic incumbents or for open seats declare their support for the initiative (if popular in their state) and make clear that they will allow "up or down votes" on important issues.

Even David Broder should lap it up.

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