I have stayed pretty quiet about politics on this blog for the past year, but in light of the White House’s current initiative to push Health Care Reform through the Senate with only 50-plus-one votes, I thought it worthwhile to revisit President Obama’s words on health care in the past.
Barack Obama on health care in 2004:
My understanding of the Senate is is that you need 60 votes to get something significant to happen, which means that Democrats have to ask the question: Do we have the will to move an American agenda forward [emphasis mine], not a Democratic or Republican agenda forward?
Barack Obama on health care in 2005:
A change in the Senate rules that really, I think, would change the character of the Senate forever … And what I worry about would be that you essentially still have two chambers, the House and the Senate, but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side, and that’s just not what the Founders intended.
Under the rules, the reconciliation process does not permit that debate. Reconciliation is therefore the wrong place for policy changes. In short, the reconciliation process appears to have lost its proper meaning: A vehicle designed for deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility has been hijacked.
Barack Obama on health care in 2006:
Those big-ticket items, fixing our health care system. You know, one of the arguments that sometimes I get with my fellow progressives, and some of these have flashed up in the blog communities on occasion, is this notion that we should function sort of like Karl Rove, where we identify our core base, we throw ’em red meat, we get a 50-plus-one victory. See, Karl Rove doesn’t need a broad consensus because he doesn’t believe in government. If we want to transform the country, though, that requires a sizeable majority.
Barack Obama on health care in 2007:
[Health care reform] is an area where we’re going to have to have a 60% majority in the Senate and the House in order to actually get a bill to my desk. We’re going to have to have a majority to get a bill to my desk that is not just a 50-plus-one majority….
You gotta break out of what I call the sort of 50-plus-one pattern of presidential politics. Maybe you eke out a victory with 50-plus-one but you can’t govern. You know, you get Air Force One and a lot of nice perks as president but you can’t deliver on health, we’re not going to pass universal health care with a 50-plus-one strategy.
So, how does one reconcile (no pun intended) these past statements with the administration’s current plan to push health care through the Senate with a simple fifty-plus-one majority vote?