Now is the time for Mr. Obama to lead the way to historic health-care reform. He’s the only one who can. I’d suggest he do so by taking these three steps:
• First, say unequivocally that he wants a plan that jettisons the public option and contains real reforms to cut health-care costs. As the Senate Finance Committee bill shows, a public option is unnecessary to expand coverage. Dropping it should win support of most centrist Democrats.
• Second, make clear that he does not want Congress to use parliamentary maneuvers, like the budget reconciliation process, to ram through a bill that can’t command 60 votes in the Senate. Health-care reform needs broad support; it is too important and too controversial for Congress to pass by resorting to legislative chicanery or short-circuiting the legislative process.
• And finally, make one more effort to bring moderate Republicans along. Transformational reforms, such as civil rights legislation and Medicare in the 1960s, have always been passed with bipartisan majorities. Health-care reform should be no exception. The president promised a post-partisan politics. What better place to forge it than on his most important initiative?