Obamabotch: Webb blasts health reform process

news-senatorjimwebbFour years ago, Webb was a little known novelist, veteran, and ex-Pentagon official. [audio of the talk]
PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

"This country is bitterly divided," says U.S. Senator Jim Webb, whose recent comments fix much of the blame on the Obama administration over its handling of the recently passed health care reform legislation.

"We moved forward without a clear-cut plan," said Webb. "A really good example of how not to pass a bill."

Webb's comments came March 31 in the UVA classroom of political science professor Larry Sabato, who played host less than a month ago to another leading Democrat with a similar rebuke to the Obama administration's methods. On March 3, former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder told the poly-sci students that he'd have finished health care reform by then. The massive health care overhaul spent about a year in Congress before it was finally signed into law on Sunday, March 21.

Webb told Sabato's students how the Administration leaned on him last year for his vote–- something he eventually offered because he believes in health reform and found "more good than bad" in the bill.

"I said specifically to the White House last June, 'How do you expect me to support a concept that does not yet exist?' said Webb. "And that is how, in my view, this country became so divided."

While Webb reserved some of his criticism for Republicans, he noted–- and Sabato later confirmed–- that he voted with Republicans more than any other Senate Democrat on health care amendments because he remained distrustful about the projected costs.

"He's absolutely right," says Sabato. "The Congressional Budget Office numbers are a joke. They were told what they could consider and what not to consider."

Webb's view, the "screwed up" process included "7,000 pages of contradictory legislation" plus the spectacle of senators–- long known as the nation's calm, deliberative body–- having to take 43 votes in two days on the Senate floor, a marathon Webb blasted as "vote-a-rama" that went as late as 3am one day. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"There's an old saying that the administration proposes and the Congress disposes," Webb told the crowd gathered in the Wilson Hall Auditorium. "If you're going to pass something that is this complex, that affects this many elements of our society and our economy, the presidential administration needs to make the proposal."

But isn't that what doomed the so-called "Hillarycare," the First Lady-driven health care reform quashed during Bill Clinton's administration?

"Neither the Clintons nor Obama found the golden mean," says professor Sabato, "The White House should outline the essential elements of a health care bill to Congress and permit Congress to shape the details."

"The process was mucked up from the beginning," continues Sabato, "I've talked to enough senators and congressmen privately to know that's a widespread sentiment."

One of the high points of Sabato's class came in the introduction, as the well-known professor read a nearly 40-year-old account about the heroic Marine-turned-senator.

Six days before the crew of Apollo 11 landed on the moon and two decades before the gathered students were born, Jim Webb was single-handedly taking out enemy bunkers and absorbing grenade shrapnel to save his platoon mates in Vietnam, a deed that earned him the coveted Navy Cross.

In other comments during the March 31 talk, Webb enthused about the new G.I. Bill that he patroned and passed two years ago over a reluctant George W. Bush,  and lamented the Senate's inaction on his effort to curb executive pay for the largest users of TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or bail-out bill.

And though surprisingly never mentioning drugs, Webb expressed cautious optimism about his pending bill to reform drug laws in the criminal justice system. Perhaps equally surprisingly, nobody in Sabato's classroom–- presumably including dozens of marijuana smokers, if the statistic is true that one third of collegians partake of the plant currently listed as illegal–-  asked Webb about the bill, S.B. 714.

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44 comments

The health care reform was written by insurance companies, for insurance companies. The individual mandate, forcing people to buy insurance if they are uninsured, will legally require people making more than about 40k per year to buy health insurance. As insurance can run between 15-20k per year depending on how many people are on the policy, many people will be spending more than half of their after-tax income on health insurance. They could pay a fine at the end of the year instead, although they won't get anything in return for that money, and it isn't cheap.

I am still amazed that anything was passed at all. There is nothing that is going to satisfy most people. This is a major compromise, but that in itself, in this vitriolic political climate, is a miracle. Now the real work begins; to refine this to bring universal coverage to all the people. At least this is a beginning.

I will never vote for Obama or Periello again but until I read this I was a still a supporter of Jim Webb, now I am having second thoughts.

What happened to the Democratic Party I knew and loved and supported for the last 30 years?

Third world economics, delusional leadership.

***
Industrialized nations tend to have national health care systems. The US was the exception.

They also "tend" to have higher taxes, a cost of living for the standard of living that is out of control, month long vacations, and governments that depress(and compress) and control their citizens- and oh, "constitutions" that are extrememly fair..........

I hope that the US continues to be the exception-

I never once mentioned "democrats" but you do make a good argument.

Sounds like the libs are going to loose big time in 2010 and 2012,
then we need to try them for treason.

Wow, went to post, and see now for some reason, I can't.

Oh, I didn't realize that using an idea from the GOP was the same as making a real effort to get GOP involvement when that's just a tiny sliver of a huge farking bill (law), where there was no GOP involvement allowed in the actual crafting of the legislative language, no GOP amendments were accepted from the Dems (and were forced through to a vote with little or no debate... as Webb criticizes in the article), and it being foisted upon the rest of us by one party rule. Did they make a real effort to get GOP involvement? No.

re:ââ?¬Å?The process was mucked up from the beginning,” continues Sabato, ââ?¬Å?I’ve talked to enough senators and congressmen privately to know that’s a widespread sentiment.”

This is what I mean. Anyone that browsed the gosh-darned drudgereport in the last 12 months new that "The process was mucked up from the beginning" and "that’s a widespread sentiment.” But Sabato makes it sound somehow special by letting us all know that "he's talked to enough senators and congressmen privately" to be able to tell us that's the truth.

WOW! Thanks for that incredible insight! Really. I mean, gee... you're REALLY working those contacts for some juicy tidbits aren't you?

College Professors are supposed to be able to impart true wisdom, aren't they? I mean, do you become a nationally known political science professor by offering up this lukewarm hokum? Sounds like a good racket.

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Who you vote for is your business. Keep it to yourself.

pepper
around and around, do you support the bribes for votes of your administration?

We still keep hearing how insurance cost will be going down for us. Insurance benefits are now taxable. WOW! cost just increased!!! But the increase goes to Obama buddies.

Hey Jim,
Perhaps you should lead the charge to repeal it.

If it wasn't right why did he vote for it? Is our country going to settle for "good enough"?

It's hard for me to sympathize with either Mssrs. Sabato or Webb here. President Obama did, in fact, provide a broad outline of what he wanted to see in a health care reform bill, and then asked Congress to fill in the details. If anything, the president was far too accommodating to Republicans, and too patient with the Senate Finance Committee in letting them eat up valuable time negotiating with the likes of GOP legislators like Sen. Grassley who never bargained in good faith.

I agree that President Obama let the process get away from him, and he made some mistakes in managing the politics of the issue. Nor am I entirely happy about the resulting law. However, if health care reform was easy, other presidents would have done it long ago. The fact is that he did actually manage to achieve something historic, and even Senator Webb acknowledges that the final bill contained "more good than bad."

Given that President Obama has barely been in office for just over a year, and it's only one of the most difficult jobs in the world, I'd say his learning curve has been impressive thus far. It's unrealistic to expect any chief executive to get everything perfect the first time he tries to accomplish a feat on the scale of sweeping health care reform. If anyone comes out of the last round of negotiations looking bad, it's the Senate. From Ben Nelson in Nebraska to Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, I've never seen so much grandstanding and pettiness.

Senator Webb:
I cannot understand why you would vote for a bill you feel this way about. I am saddened you would do such a thing. The American people should have been first & not passing a bill. You should have know something was wrong when you were pressured. This should have been a warning something is wrong. You voted for it, so saying it wasn't a good thing now, is too little, too late.
I will not be unkind to you but I am very disappointed in you, as a citizen of the state of Virginia. I expected more of you. You have helped assure the people's distrust of government. All of you must take the blame. We need people who will stand up & do what's right even under pressure. This is a mark of a true politician. When the majority of Americans were against it, it was arrogant to feel all of you know better. How sad for all of you. You should have stood up & voted against this bill, no matter what your party thinks.

Is our country going to settle for ââ?¬Å?good enough”?
Jim Webb will, but our country won't.

He made a real effort to get GOP involvement

Hahahahaha, you almost had me. I thought you were being serious. Good one.

bratman, I don't support the charge of treason for one party or another. Such hyperbole tells me that you don't have a reasonable argument to make.

Tell me which "bribe" you're talking about, please. Clearly you are one to take an extreme position ("Democrats are traitors"). Therefore I'm not going to allow you to put words in my mouth.

Please spell out the exact bribe that you are referring to. Bribery is also a crime, so please be specific in your allegation of criminal activity.

"Sounds like the libs are going to loose big time in 2010 and 2012,
then we need to try them for treason."

The punishment for treason is death.

Sounds like a new GOP bumper sticker! "Let's defeat the Democrats so that we can round them up and kill them!"

The GOP has become the party of whining, crybaby sore losers. They cannot take their numerous defeats like responsible adults so they lash out every way they can and display constant petulance and refusal to participate. They are like the crying little boy taking his ball and running home to his mommy. The thought that they may want to change their policies, rhetoric or strategy would take too much brain power for them. Instead, frantic tirades are the order of the day.

Turdburglar!!! Hush now! Don't confuse him with "facts"!! He already has his opinion.

if you want to get together and trade links than let me know i love the stuff you did

If the wind blows left, Webb goes left, if it blows right, he goes right.........he does not vote the way his constituents wish him to vote. He does not listen. He has to realize that this is not a doubling dipping career.

Third world economics, delusional leadership.

The end result will not bring better health care but it does beckon a national biometric ID card necessary to prove you are not an illegal and deserve your rationed treatment. More bitter disappointment is ahead. On every front our power elite promises or says all sorts of things to cover over the overextension and autocannibalism in play. The Wars, Wall Street, Copenhagen Summit, Health Care and further waves of productive collapse.

Albeboy, I've see worse that cr@p....however, I have seen responses swallowed by the 'system' not really the Hook..computer hiccup.

The Hook swallowed my response. Go figure.

Clean up your language and try again.

My language wasn't bad... I can only imagine it's because I said "piece of cr@p". I'm not about to re-wrote the whole thing. Oh well.

*re-write

You cannot seriously be this obtuse. The reason this became a referendum on the Presidency in the first place is because the Republicans made it so by refusing to participate. If the GOP was at all serious about healthcare reform, they would have tried to work to improve the bill instead of stonewalling to make sure that NOTHING passed. Instead, their caucus leaders made it clear that they wanted no part of reform if it meant that the Obama administration was going to be able to take any credit. They gambled on abject failure, so the President played the hand they dealt him.

By the way, compared to the alternative of a single-payer plan, this is a moderate, market-based (at least the GOP once toted it as such) approach. The lunkheaded GOP leadership should have realized that they weren't likely to get a better deal and played ball.

I so wish Sen. Webb had resurrected some of the courage from his younger years to stand against this travesty of a bill. If he was smart enough to recognize that it was a fiscal disaster, he owed it to his constuents to vote against it so it could be rewritten. I am deeply disapponted that he sold us Virginians out. Sad to say but Sen. Webb is just a partisan lackey.

So what? Everyone in DC thought that:

"One caucus member told POLITICO that Obama won him over by ââ?¬Å?essentially [saying] that the fate of his presidency” hinged on this week’s health reform vote in the House."

"We went in there already knowing his presidency would be weakened if this thing went down, but the president clearly reinforced the impression the presidency would be damaged by a loss. He was subtle, but that was the underlying theme of the meeting � the importance of passing this for the health of the presidency."

"The White House is raising the stakes so high, they are basically telling [House Democrats] that failure is not an option unless you want to sink the president."
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/34602.html

They realize that if HCR goes down, so does Obama. They just didn't realize that if HCR passes, he still might go down. Besides, that has nothing to do with trying to get GOP involvement.

"If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him," - Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

I can see how you might interpret such statements to indicate a willingness on the part of Republicans to compromise on healthcare - IF you have completely lost your grip on reality.

"Hahahahaha, you almost had me. I thought you were being serious. Good one."

Well, um, the private mandate WAS a GOP proposal... in the early 90's.

Legalize it, senator Webb! We are counting on your leadership. De-criminalize it! Seriously, legalize marijuana.

What courage! He voted for this junk. I hope he enjoys life as a former Senator. He's toast.

Too little too late Senator Webb. You own it. Please let me know when my rates will decrease $2500 and when the deficit will go down like Pres. Obama promised. Senators Webb and Warner were non-factors in the debate.

what a hypocrite

Sabato: ââ?¬Å?The White House should outline the essential elements of a health care bill to Congress and permit Congress to shape the details.”

This is EXACTLY what the President attempted to do! Freaking Sabato... what an ego.

Obama gava a general guideline of what he expected in the bill but remained flexible about the details and let those flow from Congress. By so doing, he was able to get the cooperation of the entire caucus - including conservative Dems (because they had a say in the outcome). As we quickly learned, Republicans were NEVER going to cooperate, but imagine the hostility if Obama had handed Congress a bill and said, "Here, pass this."

Blue Dogs Dems would've revolted and the whole thing would have been DOA.

Was the process messy? Sure. But to do it any other way would not have passed a thing.

I love Jim Webb, but I think his criticism smacks of the armchair QB with 20/20 hindsight.

I have to agree with ntk.

There was no health reform! Turn-coat republica- he was even paid as the first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, then as Secretary of the Navy- UNDER REAGAN!

Give me a break- he doesn't represent anyone but himself. Didn't even listen to his constituents, who were overwhelmingly against what he calls "health reform". Health reform would be just that- not college loan reform, etc.

Obama- Learning curve? We don't need a leader who is "learning". We need a leader who has paid his or her dues- someone who knows how to at least salute properly...........and who can gather their own thoughts and not get lost on a heads up display (telepromter for the uninitiated).

You watch- Webb will be a republican in a couple of years.

The basic facts are Obama never held a tenured job not even on the tenure track as an academic. He was not vetted, like Bush he had no executive skills and a very limited intellect. Obamas goal was to get anything passed that would allow him to have a Roosevelt legacy.

The healthcare bill like every other social program will become bloated due to abuse and the usual suspects.

The next national crisis will be when Washington understands that our naitonal infrastructure is crumbling as it has not been maintained while we pursued more idealistic goals. It has been ignoed for over thirty years and is now a crisis in the works.

As for the so called healthcare bill it will become Medicaid on steroids and we will end up with a national sales tax to fune our crippling debt.

For those keeing score we pay excise tax (gas, tires), real property, personal property, sales tax, two income taxes. for most people making 40,000 and up that is 48% and up on average. After the national sales tax it will be about 55% tax on most workers. When in law school in Boston we did the research and in that area the overall tax bill is about 55% as of 2000.

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