Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama's Secret SOTU Weapon: Scott Brown

NOTE: This inventive proposal comes to us from a Gotham Friend who is a recovering political speechwriter.

We already hear that President Obama will use his State of the Union
speech to try transitioning the conversation from health care reform,
which has dominated the debate for the last year, to the flagging
economy, which is still foremost in the minds of most Americans.

That's as it should be. We can only hope that his economic proposals
are substantive so they rise to meet the rhetoric.

But health care is still the elephant--or the petrified woolly
mammoth--in the room. Democrats want Obama to pledge to fight for
something like the legislation that already passed both houses of
Congress, bipartisanship be damned. Republicans want him to surrender
and admit he was wrong to ever daring to try to cover the uninsured in
the first place. He will clearly chart a middle course. The question
is how.

Obama should invite sudden superstar Scott Brown, who's not yet
formally seated in the Senate, to the speech. Welcome him to the job
of filling the shoes held by Sen. Edward Kennedy, who Obama revered.
Make a genuine appeal to work with Brown and other Republicans to find
common ground on health care.

And then--and this part will have to be done delicately--use Brown's
own support for the Massachusetts health care plan to make a renewed
push for reform.

Something like: "Sen.-elect Brown, you've said you believe all
Americans deserve health care coverage. I agree. You've said you
support the 2006 health care law that expanded coverage in
Massachusetts. I agree, which is why that law, imperfect as it was,
served as a major inspiration for the bill that passed the Senate.
You've also said that the Massachusetts law did too little to control
costs. Again, I agree.

How can we agree on these critical basics and still be standing on
different sides of the room, with our arms folded? That's an
abdication of responsibility. It's a failure of leadership.

I invite you and all Republicans to sit with Democrats and hammer out
a bill that insures as many of the uninsured as possible, cracks down
on insurance company abuses and dramatically cuts costs. There is
common ground--on banning preexisting condition discrimination, on
selling insurance across state lines, on tackling medical malpractice
reform, on giving individual Americans more control over their health
care choices.

I am willing to drop some of my priorities if you are willing to come
to the table and negotiate in good faith. We need reform, desperately.
I'm serious when I say I want a solution, not a campaign issue.
Everyone else in this Congress should prove they do, too."

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