Friday :: Feb 5, 2010

The Buck Stops Where?

by Turkana

It's hard to fathom what President Obama thinks he's doing, on health care reform. Greg Sargent catches this bizarre quote from the transcript of Obama's appearance at a DNC fundraiser, last night:

So there's a lot of information out there that people understandably are concerned about. And that's why I think it's very important for us to have a methodical, open process over the next several weeks, and then let's go ahead and make a decision. And it may be that -- you know, if Congress decides -- if Congress decides we're not going to do it, even after all the facts are laid out, all the options are clear, then the American people can make a judgment as to whether this Congress has done the right thing for them or not. And that's how democracy works. There will be elections coming up and they'll be able to make a determination and register their concerns one way or the other during election time.


Again, Obama did repeatedly state his preference for Congress to get reform done. And perhaps this was meant as more of a threat that if Dems failed they would pay at the ballot box.

But it seems clear that he also acknowledged the possibility that it may not happen — and cast that possibility as something Dem Congressional leaders would ultimately decide on their own. It’s hard to see how that helps the prospects for getting it done.

Yes, the president again said he wants to see it get done. But so have many of us. So what? And yes, Congress should be able to work this out on its own. But expecting Congress to get something done on its own is absurd as expecting Congress to get something done on its own. The Republicans oppose everything, and the Democrats are hundreds of characters in search of a plot.

Sargent previously pointed out that David Axelrod had taken a soft stand on pushing Congress, and The Hill reported that Democratic Senators were upset with the White House, for its lack of direction in closing the deal, on health care reform.

The president is the leader of his party. He picks the chairman of the national committee. A Congress of his party follows his agenda. The Democrats didn't push health care reform in 2007. Win or lose on the issue, Obama gets the credit or the blame. Great Democratic presidents have been known to send their own legislation to Congress. It's called leadership.

It sounds as if President Obama is setting up Congress to take the fall, should health care reform not get done. Which is great politics, in an election year. Maybe it's what he considers a means of pressuring Congress. Or maybe it's a means of distancing himself. Triangulating. Blame Congress. And if we lose Congress, as we did in 1994, he can blame the Republicans, some more. Which worked pretty well for President Clinton, in 1996.

Turkana :: 2:50 PM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!