Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Obama, Health Care, Congress and Bill Clinton

Today we heard from President Obama that his health care plan "needs work" and may not quite be ready for prime time. Upon hearing this, reporters breathed a sigh of relief, the Republican opposition took a break, and the "Blue Dog" Democrats (upon whom passage of this bill will ultimately depend), began negotiating with themselves as to how best they can distance themselves from this issue by giving it the "death of a thousand cuts".

Mr. President, The Thinking Nationalist is going to make two predictions: First, ObamaCare will never happen. Congress will never allow it. And second, even if a health care bill does make it out of that great legislative Sausage Factory by your self-imposed deadline, it will be distinguished by the following:

- It will bear only a faint resemblance to anything you've proposed;
- It will vastly swell the deficit ($238 billion is only the conservative CBO estimate);
- It will not reduce the number of uninsured to any measurable degree;
- It will reduce the options available to the insured in the name of "reducing costs";
- It will not feature a "public option";
- It will "shift costs" from insurers and employers to doctors and patients ;
- It will be a huge, federally-financed bonanza for the rent-seekers of the
for-profit Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industries.

And you, Mr. President, will stay the veto pen and sign it.

How did it come to this? Mr. President, here's how:

It begins with Leadership.

First of all, when you stake out the high ground as you have done, when you make this the defining issue of your Presidency, it's too important to "manage from the rear" - it has to be led from the front.

This is exactly NOT the sort of issue you can just hand off to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and just wait to bless the result. If you have a clear idea of what you want ,you should have known better than to hand off the project to these two. And bi -partisanship? Forget it. The Republicans have shrunk to a white,Southern, rural, permanent minority. They are not the opposition - they are irrelevant. You should know this.

However, you are in danger of being undone on the whole Health Care issue by your erstwhile friends on the Hill. And with friends like Max Baucus, Byron Dorgan and Ben Nelson, you don't need enemies.

Mr. President, the House and Senate are busy transforming your proposals from Pork Loin into Pork Sausage - laden with fat, and filled out with those bits and scraps thrown into the mix by their lobbyist buddies.

Mr. President, it's time to go back to campaign mode - full time. And to win this ball game, I think Manager #44 needs to make the call to the bullpen for Relief Pitcher # 42.

As you know, Bill Clinton was the last President to make a huge push for national Health Care reform.

But his proposal, developed entirely in the White House by Hillary, made the mistake of seeking absolutely no input from anyone outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hillary insisted on that to prevent the same kind of Congressional sausage-making we are now witnessing.

It was a complete package - down to the last detail - and presented to Congress and the people as a "take it or leave it" proposal. And, predictably, it got left.

You've learned from the Clinton's mistakes. HillaryCare was far more radical and extreme than anything you've proposed. But you've gone too far in the other direction. You've made the seeking of "consensus" and "input" an end in itself. What that means is that what you'll wind up with will have no resemblance to what you've proposed. Why? Because you've handed the initiative over to the opposition - which is now concentrated in the leadership of YOUR party.

Mr. President, how do we reset matters and get things off the dime?

First of all, bringing back #42, Bill Clinton, to spearhead the effort as your new
Health Care Czar isn't an admission of weakness on your part.

It's bringing in a game-changing player when the game needs changing;

Second, nothing else you could do will so demonstrate your seriousness on the issue as this will. Bringing back a well-liked Former President as a Player on your team just might push this over the top.

Third, when it comes to "Going Campaign Mode"on an issue, there's no one like Bill. When you consider that the opposition is concentrated in the "Blue Dog" states and districts, he's just the guy for the job.

Remember, he's one of them - a down-home good ol' boy. When you also consider that he's a more experienced and knowledgeable "policy wonk" than many of your current players, you've got the best of both worlds;

If you bring him on, don't be surprised to see his whole kennel of attack dogs - the John Podestas, Paul Begalas and Jim Carvilles - helping out with the media and the talk shows. Right now, they're either on the sidelines or working for the opposition;

Finally, Bill's looking for a role right now. His activities are limited because of Hillary. He can't speak out on foreign policy issues.

But he'd jump at this chance to return to the action and add to his legacy. You should take
advantage of this.

Besides, as a true CEO - you should care less about credit than results. And one of the key qualities of the Great Leaders in any field is the ability to recruit Marquee-Level talent to the team.

This could be the greatest Political Coup of all time. And if Bill helps you get Health Care passed, you'll get all the credit.

In my next post, I'll give you fellows a few ideas to help you get started.

- The Thinking Nationalist


  1. Dear Thinking Nat'l-ist

    "The Republicans have shrunk to a white,Southern, rural, permanent minority. They are not the opposition - they are irrelevant."

    It is true that the Republicans are not at this time, "in power". Another 9/11 would change all that, again. Bush would have never been re-elected if not for 9/11. Another point I wish to make is that while the Democrat party did win in 2008, the nation was still largely divided into two parties. The national "divide" was 53% to 46%, Obamta to McCain. For the first time in decades, a clear victory for one side. (Remember 2000, the contest that would never end). So, do not discount the Republican Party, too much, Mr. Thinking Nat'l. as we will be back, when our nation call us. For it isn't a matter of IF some Middle-Eastern dictator/conspirator bombs Tel-Aviv and Manhattan, but WHEN. And the rational that all people want to sit at an American Table and Negoitiate is what will take the Democrat party out of power. In spite of the fact that those who would harm the U.S., do want to harm the U.S., that is all they want, they have nothing to negotiate "for" anyway.

    I aver the foregoing isn't much on-point with your topic. My guess about that is: having asked for a "consensus" in a nation where no such thing exists, Mr. Obama will get what he asked for.
    And all the pundits, politicians and pollsters, to the contrary, what you refer to as in "irrelevant" party, is actually something far more harmful, nationally. The Republican party isn't in a decline or disarray, despite the Mass News Media striking the "Gong Show" gong signalling "it's over".

  2. Right now they (The Republicans) are not relevant ON THIS ISSUE because they don't have the votes. However, the "blue dogs" (Democrats in name only) may yet hold up Obama's health care plan - and if it collapses, BHO will have only brought it on himself.

    Terrorism and Islamofascism is another story.
    Let another 9/11 happen and there will be a Republican Congress and President as fast as you can say "military coup".