Is the GOP faltering in its battle against health care reform?
As news reports come in of one Republican after another suggesting that a government-run public option for health care may not be so bad after all, evidence is beginning to mount that the GOP may be conceding defeat in the health care battle — or at least preparing itself to make major concessions.
Prominent conservative blogger Erick Erickson raised the alarm on his RedState blog on Wednesday that at least some congressional Republicans may be ready to throw in the towel, and even vote for a compromise that could include a public option.
“I am told quite reliably that in a meeting today on Capitol Hill, Republican Senators began to rapidly move toward concessions on health care because they are afraid they cannot hold their members,” Erickson wrote. “Some Republicans are now thinking of supporting a government program.”
Erickson urged his largely conservative readership to “go to the action center and start calling” their members of Congress.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that “the White House is orchestrating a series of endorsements from Republican leaders around the country.
“With a key Senate panel poised to vote on a sweeping health bill, President Obama and his top aides have reached out to current and retired Republican leaders in an effort to blunt criticism that Democrats are using their congressional majorities to push through partisan legislation,” the paper reported.
The Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday published a list of “Five Republicans that want the GOP to back health care reform.” The list is comprised of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Republican Senate majority leader Bill Frist, former Medicare chief Mark Maclellan, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former health and human services secretary Tommy Thompson.
Late last week, Frist told Time magazine that if he were still in the Senate, he would “probably end up voting for” health care reform. Frist quickly backtracked, presumably under pressure from his GOP colleagues, but that wasn’t enough to stem a growing tide of Republicans announcing their softened opposition to — or even support for — a public health option.
The Kansas City Star reported on Wednesday that Bob Dole, the former Republican presidential candidate and senator, is backing health care reform over the objections of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“This is one of the most important measures members of Congress will vote on in their lifetimes,” the Star quoted Dole as saying. “If we don’t do it this year, I don’t know when we’re going to do it.”
The paper reported:
Dole and two other former Senate leaders, Republican Howard Baker and Democrat Tom Daschle, are preparing to release a statement urging Congress to move on health care.
“We’re already hearing from some high-ranking Republicans that we shouldn’t do that. That’s helping the president,” he said.
Later, he repeated that news, and elaborated on one “very prominent Republican, who happens to be the Republican leader of the Senate.” That would be Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Dole, to his credit, is having none of it. “I want this to pass,” he said. “I don’t agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we’ve got to do something.”
But perhaps the most significant sign that the tide is turning in Washington towards health care reform is the discernible change in tone towards the issue on Fox News.
As RAW STORY reported on Tuesday, Fox News host Shepard Smith — never one of the more ideological of Fox’s news crew — challenged Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso’s assertion that the public option amounts to a government takeover of health care.
“Over the last ten years health care costs in America have skyrocketed,” he said. “Regular folks cannot afford it. So, they tax the system by not getting preventative medicine. They go to the emergency room in the last case and we all wind up paying for it.”