Obama needs Republican votes on health care

President Barack Obama’s push to overhaul health care needs Republican votes, lawmakers from both parties say.

Democratic and GOP officials acknowledged Sunday that Obama’s ambitious plan would not pass without the aid of a doubtful GOP, whose members are almost united against the White House effort.

"Look, there are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our side of the aisle," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the chairman of the budget committee.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat and a member of the fiscally conservative "Blue Dogs," said he doubts the Democratic-controlled House could pass a proposal as it’s drafted now.

"We have a long way to go," Cooper said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, insisted she has the votes to move forward with the plan despite concerns among fiscally conservative fellow Democrats.

"When I take this bill to the floor, it will win. We will move forward, it will happen," said Pelosi, D-Calif.

Not so fast, Republicans said. Sensing a public uneasiness over the pace and price tag of the overhaul, Republicans said the longer the delay, the more the public understands the stakes of a policy that has vexed lawmakers for decades.

"We could have a plan in a few weeks if the goal is not a government takeover," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. "We’ve never seen the government operate a plan of any kind effectively and at the budgets we talked about."

Democrats countered that their plans — and there are many iterations on Capitol Hill, as committees in the House and Senate work on versions — would expand coverage without adding to the deficit. Even so, they are likely to leave for an August recess without a vote.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said they are "80 percent" in agreement on what a final version will include and are making progress.

Obama adviser David Axelrod said, "Now, we’re at the final 20 percent and we’re trying to work through those details."

That final piece, however, will require GOP backing — something Sen. Mitch McConnell said was unlikely. The Senate minority leader said congressional Democrats are having difficulty selling a health care bill to their own members.

"The only thing bipartisan about the measure so far is the opposition to it," said McConnell, R-Ky.

Conrad and DeMint spoke with ABC’s "This Week." Cooper appeared on CBS’ "Face the Nation." Pelosi and McConnell were interviewed for CNN’s "State of the Union." Gibbs spoke on "Fox News Sunday." Axelrod appeared on CBS’ "Face the Nation" and CNN’s "State of the Union."


  1. storky

    Why are Democrats negotiating against themselves? There is NO alternative plan offered by the Republicans. If Republicans have no proposals on how to improve the plan, then they are merely obstructionists. Obstructionists should be ignored and their tactics decried.

  2. almandine

    5 freedoms you’d lose in health care reform.

    “If you read the fine print in the Congressional plans, you’ll find that a lot of cherished aspects of the current system would disappear.”

    1. Freedom to choose what’s in your plan

    2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs

    3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage

    4. Freedom to keep your existing plan

    5. Freedom to choose your doctors


  3. sherry

    Remember when Obama said, “we won”? You can’t have it both ways. That statement pretty much put the kibosh on any illusion of bi-partisanship.

  4. pondering_it_all

    Each of those “5 freedoms” has a flip side:
    1. For most of us with employer-supplied group membership, we get whatever our employer offers. If they choose to change plans, then we have no option but to accept the new terms and cost. Shopping outside their plan can only get us expensive individual policies that can be cancelled any time we make a claim.
    2. “Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living” is conservative-speak for offering policies to older or sick people that are so expensive that they can’t afford them. Insurance is supposed to spread risk and cost over a very large pool. NOT CHERRY-PICKING.
    3. Freedom to choose high deductible with an HSA is not available to most people now. Generally only rich people do this, since it is a form of self-insurance.
    4. “Freedom to keep your existing plan” ignores the fact that NOBODY EVER gets to keep their existing plan: Insurance companies change their coverage and cost every year, and employers drop insurance benefits or change the plans they offer just about as often.
    5. “Freedom to choose your doctors” only exists for the non-insured cash customer. Every insurance plan either limits your choice of doctors or increases your percentage of cost coverage for out-of-plan doctors and facilities. And insurers can be dropped by physicians, so your doctor can choose not to accept your insurance at any time.

    A better quote from the article Almandine cited:

    “The best solution is to move to a let-freedom-ring regime of high deductibles, no community rating, no standard benefits”

    Basically, the McCain plan to destroy access to Health Care for most of us.

  5. almandine

    1. Choice is currently available.

    2. If insurance will be required, then they’re will be no “not affording them”.

    3. High-deductible plans are currently available if you want one. If someone less likely to need care – say a young athletic type – could afford a higher deductible, why not?

    4. Facets of plans may and do change, which is not changing to a different plan. Unless denied the ability to do it, you could always get a different plan if you didn’t like any changes in coverage.

    5. Untrue. Most plans allow the insured to select his/her doctor. HMOs are another matter… although even there, there are usually groups of physicians to choose from. Not so if this reform goes through.

    Afraid someone else would get a better deal than you?

  6. Carl Nemo

    “Because nobody’s, life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session or the White House occupied”…!

    These are the the words that first attracted me to this site since none ever written were more true when it comes to our duplicitous Congressional knaves that are scheming 24/7/365 on how to screw the American people all the while lining the pockets of their corporate benefactors.

    Nothing good will come of this health care bill in any shape or form because it will be rife with exclusions, loopholes and overrides of existent plans which in the end will create havoc for those that are now covered while everyone forced into the plan will be saying “wut da f**k?!” concerning the sub-standard, inefficient, byzantine coverage forced upon them.

    No one seems to be interested in ferreting out the criminals that are now ripping existing government sponsored plans off for the tune of 85 plus billion dollars per annum! Rest assured any new plan hatched will only increase the grazing grounds for fraudsters who will be immediately stealing us blind as a function of any newly hatched nightmarish non-plan.

    Almandine’s link posts are spot-on with quite possibly mild outcomes compared to the nightmares that will unfold as a function of our inefficient, failed government’s meddling in anything that now functions to some degree and to the benefit of the people that do receive benefits.

    It’s a fools paradise for anyone; ie., the 40 plus million that are now uninsured to think they can simply walk into a government supported clinic or hospital and receive medical care without someone paying the freight. It will take money in the form of a new tax or a tax that’s been clandestinely imbedded within existing tax structures.

    Unemployment is climbing at a mind-numbing rate while our manufacturing infrastructure has been systematically gutted during the past 15 years due to outsourcing and the H1-b Visa program along with million of illegals in the workplace. It’s the taxes on wage earners that feed our existing social safety net, so less jobs, means less revenues for the government, yet these knaves in high places want to spend even more debt-money with no plan in place to summarily ferret out waste and fraud or moving towards a balanced budget…!

    Our debt levels have reached astronomical, unpayable levels due to the compound interest effect. Americans are being reduced to a nation of beggars in their own land due to this insidious erosion forced upon us by a corrupt central banking system; ie., the unholy Fed~U.S. Treasury “funny money” axis along with a corrupt leadership that sells us all out every day in every way just “for a few dollars more”…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  7. AustinRanter

    “Freedom” is just another word for, “Nothing else to lose.”

    Since when has the importance of freedom become an issue here in the good old U.S. of A?

    Anybody wanna go into the KY Jelly distribution business with me? Oh, and it’s that kind that requires NO kiss…after applied.

  8. AustinRanter

    You have to admit, Griff…if we could somehow implement the practice of Eugenics to create our politicians in such a way that they would self-destruct after 4 years…it might really be a wonderful world.

  9. bogofree

    My wife wants to see a dermatologist and can’t get an appointment for six months. We both have the same primary care doctor who I have had since he opened his practice almost 35 years ago. When I call him I get an appointment right away. I’ve had to have referrals and he gets it done pronto. I told my wife I’ll give him a call and the end result was he cut through all the stone wall BS and got her an appointment the next day. One year we had switched plans and were forced to use a clinic format in Braintree. I had to actually sue them to get a surgery done. That was a year in medical hell and IMHO that is what we’ll end up with.