The Obama administration has had little luck in picking up Republican support for health-care reform inside Congress, but it is having better luck outside the halls of the U.S. Capitol.
It won endorsements from four GOP luminaries that the White House quickly publicized.
Perhaps most important, former Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson called the Senate Finance Committee bill “another important step toward achieving the goal of health-care reform this year.” Indirectly addressing GOP lawmakers who want to simply kill it for the sake of inflicting a painful defeat on President Barack Obama, he said failure to reach agreement this year “is not an acceptable option.”
Thompson was secretary of health and human services in President George W. Bush’s first term and, as a four-term governor of Wisconsin, developed the templates for several Republican initiatives, including federal welfare reform.
And Bill Frist, the former Senate Republican leader, said if he were still in Congress he would vote for health-care reform. Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, commended Obama for pushing health-care reform. “You have to admire him for taking it on,” he said. This is not what the GOP true believers want to hear.
Another Republican star, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said he, too, supports Obama’s efforts to reform the health-care system and urged both parties to work together to get it accomplished.
And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was a Democrat, then a Republican, then an independent and now seems to be a Republican again, said the health-care overhaul “is shaping up to merit broad, bipartisan support.”
A legislative initiative that looked like it was flat-lining in August is now showing a strong pulse. There may actually be a law at the end of this exhausting process.