Today, Obama asked Congress to allow for an “up-or-down-vote” on health reform, which would allow the Democrats to pass the bill and put an end to the year-long debate.
“I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform,” the president said in a 15-minute speech in the East Room of the White House. He asked Democratic leaders to schedule a vote in the next few weeks, adding, “From now until then, I will do everything in my power to make the case for reform.”
In case you’re not familiar with the phrase, an “up-or-down-vote” basically means that everyone simply votes yes or no on the bill and bypasses all the procedural hubbub that normally goes on. Obama thinks this is the only way to make progress, despite the health care summit he held just last week.
“I don’t see how another year of negotiations would help,” he said. “Moreover, the insurance companies aren’t starting over.”
Still, when I hear that Congress is simply being told to pick “yes” or “no” on this complicated issue, I can’t help but think of school children passing notes – Do you like me? Check one box – Yes or No. Just like the essence of a person’s feelings for another person can’t be summed up by simply checking a box, a decision as important as remaking the health insurance system can’t be left to a simple yea or nay.
Obama says they’ve been at it a year, and that another year won’t do any good. But a year seems hardly anything in the grand scheme of things. After all, we’ll be dealing with the effects of this legislation for generations to come, and if the Social Security crisis has taught us anything, it’s that it’s much easier to pass the bill than to fix it later.
Since support for the health reform bill is split almost evenly on party lines, it’s almost a certainty that the decision to support or not support the bill has everything to do with politics and little to do with the bill’s viability. Even so, I think Obama might be pushing for passage because he’s afraid too many people will start to check the “no” box on his “Do you like me?” questionnaire. After all, public support for reform is dwindling – a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44 percent favor the plan (down 6 percent from last June, though up from last week).
So what do you think? Is the “up-or-down-vote” the way to go? Is it time to finally put this beast to bed? Or would you rather see the debate dragged out?
Heather Trese is the associate editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal.