By Bill Scher
At today’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cited new support from prominent Republicans outside of Washington, and said of those inside Washington, “They are wildly out of step with their constituents.”
An idle boast? Not at all. Just two weeks the New York TImes found broad support across party lines for a public option. As flagged by TPMDC:
The poll asked this question: “Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans?”
The top-line result is 65% in favor, 26% opposed. Among Democrats only, it’s 81%-12%, and independents are at 61%-30%. And among Republican respondents, 47% are in favor, to 42% opposed.
Leading Senate Republicans have begun making an argument that if their colleague Sen. Olympia Snowe votes for reform, that one vote is not enough to make the bill “bipartisan.” Sadly, this silly labeling game matters because some Democrats are too afraid to vote for a strong bill if it’s not blessed by the media with a “bipartisan” prefix.
Steven Benen notes the hypocrisy of conservative Republicans who were so quick to hold up the lone Democrat Sen. Zell Miller and deem legislation sufficiently bipartisan.
But the views of actual Republican voters strike me as most important that the whims of a single Senator. Why kowtow to Snowe and her mish-mosh of “head-scratching” ideas, when the evidence is so clear of broad Republican and independent support among the ultimate judges — voters — for robust legislation that stands the best chance of expanding coverage while lowering costs?
The fact is, voters of all stripes want action on health care, and not timid action either. Some of the pending bills are better than others, but all are attempts to enact comprehensive reform. No matter what exactly clears Congress in the end, regardless of whether or not Snowe gets on board, it will have bipartisan support at the grassroots level.