Monday, March 01, 2010

Obama Has Mandate to Move Health Reform Forward, Houston Chronicle Says

In an editorial published in its Sunday print edition, the Houston Chronicle says the public wants real health care reform and is tired of Republican efforts to block it. The editorial said that far from being "the statist caricature its GOP critics would have the nation believe," the Democratic plan is "centrist and reasonable." It urged the President and his party to move forward on their own and said the voters would reward them. The editorial follows:

President Barack Obama's much-anticipated health care summit was clarifying. Nearly seven hours of talk on Thursday made plain that the divide between Democrats and Republicans is wide and likely unbridgeable.

But the summit also made this much clear: Most Americans believe that health care reform is needed. We would argue that gives Obama and the Democrats a clear mandate to move forward on their own.

Health care reform is too important to this economy, to the millions of Americans who go without, and even to well-insured Americans whose premiums continue to soar, to be put off for a moment longer.

The president's plan has many critics, including many in the liberal wing of Obama's own party. But the plan is not the statist caricature its GOP critics would have the nation believe. On the contrary, it is centrist and reasonable. And it is greatly needed.

The president was wise to resist the imploring of Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to scrap the current plan and start over. Given the degree of difference between the views of the two parties, that is likely a road that would lead nowhere.

Obama and the Democrats should specifically not be cowed from using the parliamentary device known as reconciliation to push the number of votes needed for Senate passage down from 60 to a simple majority of 51 in the upper chamber.

There is no shame in relying upon the smaller majority in the Senate. It has been used before by the same Republicans who now criticize it. The real crime would be to let this moment of opportunity for reform pass without action.

It will take stronger leadership than Obama has so far shown to stiffen the resolve of wavering centrist Democrats in the House of Representatives and bring health care reform. It will also take greater presidential leadership to overcome the drumbeat of misinformation about the plan from moneyed special interests.

It is worth the risk. We believe voters will reward Obama and the Democrats for showing the courage to move forward on their own. More important, the rewards of doing so will be shown in a strengthened economy and greater economic security for American workers and their families.

No comments: