Obama Seeks ‘Broadest Coalition Possible’
In an effort to assemble "the broadest coalition possible" in its push for health reform, the administration has ventured outside the beltway, the New York Times reports. Three high-profile Republicans have gone on the record praising the Democrat-led attempt to overhaul the health system, though not all have endorsed specific legislation. Tommy Thompson, a former Bush cabinet member, four-term Wisconsin governor, and 2008 presidential candidate, issued a statement through the White House saying, "Failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option." The statement, released jointly with former House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt, also said some issues in the Senate Finance bill remained unresolved.
Bill Frist, the former Republican Senate leader, said last week that if he were still in Congress, he'd vote for the Democrats' bill, though he told the Times Monday that he didn't endorse the current bills, only the Democrats' push for "transformational change to the health care system." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, recently a Republican though now independent, also showed support for the effort (Herszenhorn and Hulse, 10/5).
"The approach has great potential to reduce costs for families, businesses and government at every level over the long term, while extending coverage to many millions of the uninsured and investing in proven, cost-effective public health strategies. This is an approach that Republicans, Democrats and Independents can and should support," Bloomberg said, according to an ABC News report (Stephanopoulos, 10/5).
Back in Washington, "[t]he question is, how good is Obama at playing the inside game on Capitol Hill?" asks The Christian Science Monitor. "Team Obama is working behind the scenes to keep various key senators (almost all Democrats) inside the tent" Some from conservative-leaning states must prepare for tough reelection races that could be jeopardized by supporting the effort, while others with more liberal views see the bills as not going far enough (Feldman, 10/5).