The White House has seized on a comment Jim DeMint made on a conference call last week, which I reported at the time: “If we are able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” I think that sort of talk is unhelpful for Republicans, because killing Democratic health care legislation isn’t about damaging Obama politically, it’s about preventing the government takeover of one-sixth of our economy, stopping job-killing tax increases on individuals and small businesses, unsustainable deficits, and the deterioration of the quality of health care in the U.S. It’s about blocking Democrats efforts now so that hopefully one day there will be an opening to pass true health care reform. When Obama is floundering on his own, there’s no reason for DeMint to throw him a life raft. Whenever Obama gets into political trouble, he responds by misdirection. During the campaign, he’d point fingers at Bush and McCain, and now it’s Republicans who stand in the way of change.
“This is all about politics,” Obama said of the DeMint comment. “That describes exactly an attitude that we’ve got to overcome, because what folks have in their minds is that, somehow, this is about me.”
Of course, this is silly, because Democrats have overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress. If they want to pass something, they can do it without a single Republican vote. To block health care legislation, at least 40 House Democrats would have to cross over to oppose it (even assuming uniform GOP opposition), or at least one Senate Democrat would have to support a Republican filibuster. Obama’s health care push is hitting a rough patch because moderates in his own party are skittish about the price tag and tax increases. The Congressional Budget Office determined that none of the Democratic bills do anything to rein in costs — the primary rationale for his health care drive. And the Mayo Clinic, which Obama has routinely praised as a model for the health care system, has blasted the House legislation. Yet Obama wants to rush legislation through so he has a victory going into an election year.
In fact, as CNN reported, “The Senate Democratic leadership and the White House are putting heavy pressure on the Finance Committee to adopt its health care plan before the president speaks to the nation (on Wednesday).” So in other words, Obama is trying to pressure the Finance Committee not to write the best legislation its members can, not to reach a bipartisan compromise, but to pass whatever bill they can before he goes in front of the television cameras to give a prime-time news conference.