Here’s a story from me about the latest in the Senate on health care reform. I was surprised to hear that the White House hasn’t been wooing any other moderate Republicans aside from Maine’s Olympia Snowe:
During the summer of discontent the White House stopped reaching out to some key potential votes: the other senator from Maine, Susan Collins, says she hasn’t heard from anyone at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue since July, and retiring Ohio Senator George Voinovich, another Republican often mentioned by Dems as a potential swing vote, has also heard nothing from Obama or his staff. Both, if anything, were put off by the President’s speech, which Collins called “divisive.” “I would’ve hoped the president would’ve done a more conciliatory speech,” she sniffed, emerging from a vote off the Senate floor Thursday afternoon.
Obama met with 17 moderate Senate Dems yesterday. So the question(s) I have is, in trying to read the tea leaves on the strategy: are they just hoping for the one Maine vote an for a replacement vote for Teddy Kennedy to go it alone? Or are they just not hedging their bets? Or are they just being lax with their member outreach — not an entirely new criticism, as Todd Zwillich noted on this morning’s “The Takeaway” on WNYC? They seem to be waiting for Baucus’s process to play out. But if, in the meantime, the White House is preparing to do health care reform with maybe just Snowe, why bother to endorse so many moderate and Republican ideas in Obama’s big speech? Why not just write a bill much farther to the left…? One hopes they actually have a plan here.