Reid Must Let Republicans Sit at the Healthcare Table

It is interesting that Senator Harry Reid needs moderate Republicans to pass healthcare reform, yet he refuses to allow us a “seat at the table”.

Today, Reid is trumpeting a new compromise he made with nine other Democratic Senators to help push through healthcare. This comes after some Democratic senators threaten to withhold their votes due to the failure of the Nelson Amendment. Now, Reid is back to courting Republican Senators Snowe and Collins.

It’s bad enough that Reid won’t allow Republicans a voice in this debate over a large bill that completely revamps the American healthcare system, could greatly impact the American economy, and costs American taxpayers almost a trillion dollars. But to court our votes- without allowing our input- is insulting. Why should Republicans stick their necks on the line and vote for his package when our concerns, views, and beliefs won’t be allowed in discussions to shape or change the bill?

Perhaps, Senator Snowe said it best in a pre-Thanksgiving speech that is being touted by the Wall Street Journal today. Senator Snowe noted that throughout history, major social legislation success stories have been a bipartisan effort. Social Security had a strong Republican backing, despite its Democratic roots. Medicare and Welfare Reform, the latter pushed by President Bill Clinton, saw the same. She noted that the lack of bipartisan dialogue and input wasn’t just troubling, but a sign that Senator Reid and the Democrats were more concerned with pushing healthcare reform through than “getting it right.”

Senator Reid needs to make a decision- if our votes matter, then we should be included in talks, even if it means that passage won’t come as quickly as he hopes. To pass a bill without bipartisan support doesn’t just send a message of partisan politics at work, but undermines the initiatives and tells Americans that this bill wasn’t important enough to gain the approval of one half of the American political system.
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