August 17th, 2009
05:05 AM ET
5 years ago

Carville: Dems should force GOP to filibuster health care reform


WASHINGTON (CNN) – After two weeks of sometimes contentious congressional town hall meetings on health care reform, and amid growing signals from the Obama administration that it may be willing to compromise on a key aspect of health care, Democratic strategist James Carville said Sunday that congressional Democrats should force Republicans to filibuster health care reform in the Senate.

“What about this?,” Carville said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “Suppose they pass a House bill that can get 56 Senate Democrats.” Then, Carville suggested, instead of using reconciliation, a special budgetary maneuver in Senate procedure that frustrate GOP attempts to mount a filibuster, Democrats should call for a vote. “And make [Republicans] filibuster it. But the old kinda way is that they filibuster it and make’em go three weeks and all night and [Democrats] will be there the whole time.

“Then, you say, ‘They’re the people that stopped it. We had a majority of Democrats. We had a good bill. They stopped it.’"

The Democratic strategist also rejected any comparison between the Clinton administration’s failed efforts at health care reform in 1994 and the Obama administration’s efforts now.

Democrats “pulled the plug,” Carville said, on health care reform in August of 1994, just months before the mid-term election where Republicans took control of the House. Now, “this is August of the year before the election,” Carville said.

“Make’em filibuster it and then run against a do-nothing Congress [in 2010],” the former aide to Bill Clinton and longtime ally of both Clintons told CNN’s John King.

Mary Matalin, a Republican strategist who is Carville’s wife, sees the politics of the health care reform fight very differently.

Matalin predicted that Democratic health care reform efforts would fail and that congressional Democrats, rather than President Obama, would pay a price for that failure.

“He’ll be fine but the Democrats in Congress won’t. And you’re already hearing Democrats in Congress saying, ‘This is déjà vu. This is what happened with Bill Clinton. He makes us walk the plank and then we lose’ - as they did . . . in 1994,” the Republican strategist said.

Matalin also predicted that like Mr. Obama’s approval rating would bounce back after losing his Democratis House majority in 2010, just like Clinton’s did after the 1994 election.

Carville and Matalin are both CNN political contributors.

Updated: 4:10 p.m.

Related: Health care in America

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