A little-known interview in 2007 by Barack Obama supplies some fresh evidence of President Barack Obama’s shifting views on the use of reconciliation to pass comprehensive health care reform. Now, in 2010, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats have settled upon a plan to pass Obamacare via the use of reconciliation in the Senate after a majority vote in the House. Back in 2007, candidate Obama actually used the issue of the use of reconciliation on health care reform as an example of what Hillary Clinton would do but Obama would not, concluding that folks should vote for Obama for this reason:
Obama was talking about the differences between himself and his then-opponent in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton.
“I think it is legitimate at this point for me to explain very clearly to the American people why I think I will be a better president than Hillary Clinton, and to draw contrasts,” Obama said.
“But that’s very different from this sort of slash-and-burn politics that I think we’ve become accustomed to. Look, part of the reason I’m running is not just to be president, it’s to get things done. And what I believe that means is we’ve got to break out of what I call, sort of, the 50-plus-one pattern of presidential politics. Which is, you have nasty primaries where everybody’s disheartened. Then you divide the country 45 percent on one side, 45 percent on the other, 10 percent in the middle — all of them apparently live in Florida and Ohio — and battle it out. And maybe you eke out a victory of 50-plus-one, but you can’t govern. I mean, you get Air Force One, there are a lot of nice perks to being president, but you can’t deliver on health care. We’re not going to pass universal health care with a 50-plus-one strategy. We’re not going to have a serious bold energy policy of the sort I proposed yesterday unless you build a working majority. And part of the task of building that working majority is to get people to believe in our government, that it can work, that it’s based on common sense, that it’s not just sort of scoring political points.
The interviewer then asked, “So is your answer to ‘Why I will be a better president than Hillary Clinton,’ is your answer that she’ll be a 50-plus-one president and you won’t?”
“Yes,” Obama said.
Even left-leaning Polifact, who collected the above Obama quotes in the wake of Glenn Beck’s partial airing of them last week, states that Obama has committed a complete flip flop on the use of reconciliation:
Obama may argue that he has tried to include Republicans, but that they have simply been unwilling to play ball. He also has noted that the first iteration of the health care bill passed the Senate with a supermajority. But the fact is, the health care bill is not getting any Republican support, and Obama is pressing forward with a plan to push through a health care plan without them, and without a 60-vote majority.
And we think the last quote, from 2005, is even more on point. Yes, Obama was speaking about the “nuclear option” as it related to judicial nominees, and not a reconciliation bill. But the principles are largely the same, especially as Obama noted that having simple “majoritarian” power in the Senate is “just not what the Founders intended.” And we think that’s enough to warrant a Full Flop.
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