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August 20th, 2009
02:30 PM ET

Commentary: Democrats may kill health care reform

Roland S. Martin says health care reform may fall victim to disunity among Democrats.

Roland S. Martin says health care reform may fall victim to disunity among Democrats.

By Roland S. Martin
CNN contributor

Editor's note: A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland S. Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information.

Democratic members of Congress, party strategists, and even President Obama have tried their best to portray Republicans as obstructionists to health care reform, and want us to believe that if the effort fails, it's all because of the GOP.

That's bull. The failure to pass health care reform would be a yoke around the Democrats' neck, and the cause of losing the moment would be their inability to achieve unity among themselves.

Democrats have the perfect political hat trick. They control the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, with a strong majority in both houses.

But I'm reminded of something Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, told me nine years ago: Democrats know nothing about party unity.

Conyers was being interviewed for an election special I was working on for a now-defunct black cable network, and he said that if Democrats had a majority of the votes in the House, they had a unified group of only about 165.

That's because when you throw in the 50-something Blue Dog Democrats - strongly conservative members whom some party loyalists liken to Republicans in Democrat clothing - then you have a different kind of dynamic than you do in the GOP, where the strong base of conservatives typically stays in line.

Then, of course, you have the far-left members, loud and noisy, and oftentimes unwilling to compromise their positions in order to move legislation forward.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Roland S. Martin
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Wynoma Hollis

    Roland is right. Many of the Blue Dog democrats are republicans dressed in democratic clothing. One thing I can say about the republicans, they stick together; right or wrong!

    I'm not really worried about the bill being passed because I know, if "God is in the plan, they can't stop the man." The Bill will pass.

    "You can do right forever, but you can only do wrong for so long." The Republicans have been doing wrong for a long time. It's time they begin to reap what they have sown. Believe me, they are going to reap. How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so. Galatian 6:7.

    That's all folks!

    Wynoma Hollis

    August 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  2. truthislove45

    Sin is the path of self destruction-thats why the devilcratics are so despearte. For they seek to make a name for "themselves"Case and point-the children of the DEVIl walk in and stumble around in the dark. You keep deleting my post-pointing out how Obama is a grade hypocrite. That's why there divisions because Satan comes to kill steal and destroy.

    August 20, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  3. Regina (Kentucky)

    When I listened to the President speak today about healthcare reform, it made more sense to me than anything else I have heard out there. He gave alot more details than before. I hope he keeps it up and I hope it is not too late.

    August 20, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  4. William of Iowa

    The Democrats risk losing the mandate the American people have handed them based on the desire to replace lethargic, complacent and ineffective governance with individuals who campaigned for change and a "can do" attitude. Why... Maybe we voters were fooled into believing they had the courage to take risks inherent for change when in fact they did not.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  5. Isabel • Brazil

    The health reform is a bold plan. If successful, the President will enter to history as a remarkable leader. If fails, however, will be the first serious defeat, that if we think in political terms..

    August 20, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  6. Joe G. (Illinois)

    If you get a bowl out of our kitchen cabinet, lay on your table, throw in some cereal and poor in some milk, you know what you get..! “A bowl of cereal..” Elect Borak Obama, place him in the Oval Office of the White House, surround him with his most loyal friends, confidants and inspirational row models (Exclude Jeremiah Wright because..!) and people all of a sudden don’t know what’s going on.. How can that be??? If you are an Abortionist whether because of pathology or pure evil.. Is that something you want to say and talk about with pride? Especially if you want to hand over “Your Health Care Program???”

    August 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  7. Michael C. McHugh

    We MUST have the public option, and it doesn't matter how it's passed. The consumer needs some protections against the insurance companies, which are at least as predatory as banks. Other parts of the bill may be split off and passed with some Republican support, but if the public option has to be passed on straight party lines with one-vote majorities in both houses, then so be it.

    August 20, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  8. RLWellman

    It's all the Republican's fault, it's all the Republican's fault! You know, I'm getting pretty sick and tired of the left saying this. They are so ignorant to believe the majority of the United States citizens don't have enough brains to turn this Health Care Reform Bill down as it is written.

    The left have been very degrading against the backbone of this country. They need to read all the bills before they are signed. It's just too bad it took the public this long to wake up. If they had been on the ball before, maybe some of these other garbage bills wouldn't have made it through!

    You want to pass something? How about sitting down together and working together (Bipartism) and get a Health Care Reform Bill that will work best for the whole country? If you plan to have the the 253 million citizens pay for the 47 million citizens without insurance, you had better get their input too!

    August 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  9. matthew queens, ny

    Is it possible that a well written bill would pass. This bill is a poorly written bill. When you add the poorly written stimulus bill the American people are expressing their doubts. This is only causing further fracturing of the democratic caucus. There is more to reform than just a public option. To do this correctly they need more time not some arbitrary timeline. Also the democrats in '93 and now have tried a comprehensive approach. Maybe it should be broken up into smaller bills. One final point; the party in opposition is always more unified than the governing party. The democrats were unified when Bush was in power.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  10. Joanne P.

    Mr. Martin,

    You are eloquent in your appraisal of the slippery moves and skewed motivation of those nay-sayers in Congress.

    No wants blame, and worse, no one will take responsibility.

    There are models of health plans abroad and here in the US that could form an excellent, cost-saving and expansive business blueprint for equality in health care. This is not impossible. However, forward progress on this front is sabotaged.

    Thanks for the clarity of thought!

    August 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  11. Joey - NY, NY

    This is from AP today:

    "President Barack Obama guaranteed Thursday that his health care overhaul will win approval and said any bill he signs will have to reduce rapidly rising costs, protect consumers from insurance abuses and provide affordable choices to the uninsured _ while not adding to the federal deficit."

    How??? Tell us. And by the way, we don't believe you.

    August 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  12. truthislove

    The devilcrats speak as they do for their is no LIGHT in them! Obama is an EVIL man and a TOTAL hypocrite he speaks of morals well blatantly supporting rebellion to Gods will-homosexuality, murder aka abortion, amongst many other sinful policies. Adam blamed Eve-obama blames everyone but himself. Only a FOOL can't see Obama for who he is! A blind man follows a blind man into a ditch. Obama is digging some DEEP ditches. He is antichrist anti scripture he is in NO position to preach morality!! His conference call with "religious" leaders is a farce/ as religion is a FARCE. Jesus Christ NEVER said all religions lead to heaven!

    August 20, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  13. joe

    I think its about time we talk about the reality behind the bleeding heart argument of how horrible it is that the health profession makes a profit off "the suffering of others". Those that make that argument and stand with Obama must not understand the true dynamics of profit motivation. The incentive of profit breeds innovation, it leads companies to provide top quality of care, innovative products, remarkable drugs. Without that we will fall into a sub standard medical system where we don't have blockbuster AID's or cancer drugs. I beg America to not be naive, we can't have top quality care with profit potential.

    That said, the two main culprits to the excessive cost of health care are malpractice lawsuits and the burden the smoking population puts on the system. If Obama is serious about improving care; he should start there – then there will be enough of money for a broader system (which by the way already subsidizes the non insured).

    If Obama does not do something about malpractice costs and the smoker burden, costs will only increase, regardless of his overhaul.

    August 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  14. lampe

    Finally someone is speaking the truth. If The Dems cannot get this bill passed it is their fault and theirs alone. STOP blaming The Republicans. The Dems control everything for at least the next 3 1\2 years, it is this to fix, or theirs to mess up. Just do something already. I am sick and tired of all this finger-pointing and blaming that's going on. Obama promised a different kind of Government, well where is it?

    August 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  15. truthislove45

    Obama is an EVIL man and a TOTAL hypocrite he speaks of morals well blatantly supporting rebellion to Gods will-homosexuality, murder aka abortion, amongst many other sinful policies. Adam blamed Eve-obama blames everyone but himself. Only a FOOL can't see Obama for who he is! A blind man follows a blind man into a ditch. Obama is digging some DEEP ditches. He is antichrist anti scripture he is in NO position to preach morality!! His conference call with "religious" leaders is a farce/ as religion is a FARCE. Jesus Christ NEVER said all religions lead to heaven!

    August 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  16. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Glad to hear a liberal admit that the Democratic Party is made up of a coalition of special interests. We always knew it, but it's nice you've finally fessed up.

    August 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  17. earle,florida

    What do you me kill the "Health-Care Act"? The book of false-proverbs regarding reform was created for target practice only,in which both parties involved,honed their skills,for future deception,period. You know,if you throw enough mud at a wall some of it will stick,but luckily for the public ,and congress's untimely summer recess,the mud was actually found out to be "Cow-Dung"! So,what do we do now? I have a novel ideal. Let's start over,and take our sweet time,...

    August 20, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  18. Andrew MacNeal

    If the Democrats kill health reform, or even pass something thats watered down, none of them will ever get to see the inside of the Capital Building again. At least, not as elected officials.

    August 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  19. anna

    It is bull. Obama should push this healthcare reform throught no matter what it takes. This country needs a public healthcare option. Why are all these seniors going crazy? Because Obama and his Admin really did one hell of a job sinking their healthcare reform. The seniors have their healthcare and it is govt run. Others deserve the same and it is vital in order for our country to move forward. Costly, yes, but so is the war and we are there. Why, because it is important, right?

    I can only hope that Obama will not cave in and let go of the public option. This decision will test his presidency. But he must have known that going into this – that is what he campaigned on – change. Well, if he has conviction and he has guts, he will push this option through because he is passionate and a leader – just like Bush did with the war. Obama needs to show that he can lead and not buckle during conflict. Later with the Republicans. All Obama's constitutents will come home if he shows them he is a confident leader and willing to do this.

    August 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm |