As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

UHC As The Killer App Of The Democratic Nomination

After John Edwards' endorsement and a show of unity inside the Democratic Party, thoughts turn to that "unity ticket" everyone's been buzzing about. I don't think it's such a good idea, though I can definitely see a Vice President who was a Clinton supporter like a Ted Strickland or Ed Rendell. What I do think is that someone who took 49% of the Democratic vote (YMMV) in this primary season is entitled to get something out of the exchange, as a show of her prominence and importance in the party. There are simply too many supporters to say "Sorry, you lost, go home." Clinton's influence will wane the day she gets out of the race, but there is a way to save her from herself and create some space in the next Administration - not for her, but her ideas.

Kitty Seeyle, who I'm not necessarily a fan of, hit on the idea of using universal health care as the bargaining chip that Obama's campaign could take up to ensure her support.

But since then, Mr. Obama has indicated that he would certainly want to be talking with her.

“Obviously, I’d want to have a broad-ranging discussion with Senator Clinton about how I could make her feel good about the process and have her on the team moving forward,” he said on Friday, noting it was too early to do so as long as she was still running.

Translation: Mr. Obama needs her to help him win in the fall. Her devoted contingent of Democrats is nearly as large as his own, a point that will be underscored with her expected big win tonight in West Virginia. After a divisive primary season, he knows that winning over her supporters begins with winning over her.

So how about this: What if Mrs. Clinton asked Mr. Obama to adopt her plan for universal health care? He could put Mrs. Clinton in charge of achieving it, presumably but not necessarily from her perch inside the Senate. And he could begin by putting the goal of universal coverage as a plank in the party’s platform.

Now, this is purely speculative. A Clinton spokesman says no such discussions are underway. But neither does he bat them away.

Ultimately, I think that Clinton supporters will return to the fold in the fall. But Clinton's health care plan is simply more popular than Obama's, and while I'm not the biggest fan of mandates without serious cost controls, I think there's room for an accommodation here. Clinton's bill can be the template for negotiation with stakeholders, which Obama wants to see played out in the open, on C-SPAN. Clinton can be the Senate leader at that table. Her legacy would be assured, just as many Senators are defined by their connection to key legislation, like the Stafford Loan.

This would actually get a lot of Democratic leaders on board with Obama and more comfortable with his campaign. This was the last paragraph of the story on the Edwards endorsement.

Edwards didn't even tell many of his former top advisers of his decision because he wanted to inform Clinton personally, said the person close to him. His wife, Elizabeth, who has said she thinks Clinton has the superior health care plan, did not accompany him and is not part of the endorsement.

One of the key issues, if not the key issue, for voters which have favored Clinton is health care. And that's going to be lanched from the Senate anyway. Wyden-Bennett is the furthest along right now. Clinton's plan could be the starting point from an Obama Administration's perspective, with maybe a shift of emphasis, where cost control is foregrounded. I think this would be a very good unity proposal.

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