By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Tom Daschle, the man who was originally supposed to be running the president's healthcare reform fight, told the New York Times Magazine a few months ago that one of his favorite phrases is, "The windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror."
President Bill Clinton, who has his own healthcare reform debacle of 15 years ago set squarely in his rearview mirror, met with Senate Democrats this week—essentially urging them to pass healthcare reform in whatever form they can. As McClatchy News paraphrased it, his advice was: "Just pass something."
The former president summarized his remarks after the meeting this way: "It's not important to be perfect. It's important to move....The worst thing we can do is nothing. ...There is no perfect bill because there are always unintended consequences."
"So there'll be amendments to this effort, whatever they pass, next year and the year after that—and there should be....But the worst thing we can do is nothing. That was my argument," the former president said.
Presumably, Clinton was referring to the Stupak-Pitts amendment, restricting federal funds being used to cover abortions under healthcare reform. The amendment holds the possibility of stopping healthcare reform because the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is so upset about it; ironically, the leadership agreed to it in an effort to mollify moderate Democrats in the Senate.
Yet most Americans oppose federal funding of abortions: the latest Rasmussen poll shows that 48 percent believe any government-subsidized healthcare plan should be prohibited from covering abortions; 13 percent believe abortion coverage should be required, and 32 percent "favor a more neutral approach with no requirements in either direction."
Overall, Rasmussen also reports that a majority of voters now say passage of the legislation will increase healthcare costs and say it will hurt the quality of care. No matter which poll you look at, it's pretty easy to see that the consensus is most Americans are uncomfortable with federal funding of abortions, and that they think that the legislation, as it stands today, will result in higher costs for worse care. You'd have to be pretty out of it to not see that as the months go by, healthcare reform remains controversial to say the least.
Senate Majority Leader Reid is hoping to pass the Senate version by the end of the year, because he seems to agree that it's time to "just pass anything." No wonder there's such a disconnect between independent voters and the Democratic Party. Instead of looking out the windshield and hitting the brakes—they're looking in the rearview mirror and hitting the accelerator.