Say it ain’t so. Really? What do you think? Is this move for bipartisanship smoke and mirrors for 2012, or some of them might be sincere in their change of heart, moving to a more conservatively fiscal point of view? What do you think- should Republicans work with these Democrats? What would it hurt?
A handful of moderate Senate Democrats are looking for ways to roll back the highly contentious individual mandate — the pillar of President Barack Obama’s health care law — a sign that red-state senators are prepared to assert their independence ahead of the 2012 elections.
The senators are prepared to break with the White House on a wide range of issues: embracing deeper spending cuts, scaling back business regulations and overhauling environmental rules. The moderates most likely to buck their party include Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana — all of whom are up for reelection in 2012 and represent states Obama lost in 2008.
The Democratic moderates said they’re not concerned about how their positioning will affect their party’s overarching political strategy.
“I’m not worried about the politics of this; I’m worried about the substance of it,” McCaskill said. “My goal has always been pretty simple: affordable, accessible, private-market insurance for people in America who want insurance. The politics of this are hard; it’s just easier to stay focused on the substance because that’s what matters.”
Regarding the health care law:
“This is about making it better,” Nelson said. “I never thought the mandate was a particularly good way to do it.”
Nelson fired back at GOP critics who said he’s trying to distance himself from the law. “What’s their plan? Is their plan, ‘hope you don’t get sick’?”
Unlike the other three senators, Manchin wasn’t in Congress to cast a vote on the legislation, though he voted last week with the rest of his Democratic colleagues against GOP efforts to repeal the entire law. But he’s looking to make other changes to the law, including paring back the state Medicaid expansion that covers insurance costs for lower-income families.
Jobs and the budget:
With bipartisan discussions led by Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) now under way, endangered Democrats could very well jump on board whatever proposal eventually emerges to slash the debt.
In the meantime, some Democrats — like Colorado Sen. Mark Udall — aren’t waiting for an upcoming election to get in front of the spending issue.
In recent weeks, Udall has co-sponsored a GOP constitutional amendment to force Congress to balance its budget, has taken a hawkish stand against earmarks, signed onto Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain’s plan to give the president line-item veto authority and is pushing for an up-or-down vote on the presidential deficit commission’s proposals. And he was the driving force behind the push for Democrats and Republicans to sit next to one another at last month’s State of the Union address.
Udall said his recent push has nothing to do with moderating his image ahead of his 2014 reelection effort.
“What I heard from the voters is to focus on jobs, get the debt [under] control and work together,” Udall said. “And what I’ve been doing the last month reflects what the voters said.” (Read more)
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