March 7th, 2010
11:24 AM ET
11 years ago

Retiring Dem: GOP doesn't want to dance on health care

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Retiring Rep. Brian Baird said Sunday that Republicans see health care reform as 'a potent political weapon.'"]
Washington (CNN) – A retiring House Democrat who is himself unsure whether he will back his own party’s health care reform bill criticized congressional Republicans Sunday for their lack of bipartisanship on the issue of health care.

“Tom DeLay was on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” Rep. Brian Baird, D-Washington, said on CNN’s State of the Union, referring to the Republican former House Majority leader, who was also a guest on the show.

Later: DeLay explains turn on DWTS

“We don’t have a dance partner,” Baird said. “We don’t have someone on the other side who is seriously willing to say, ‘If you do these things, you will have our support.’ And the reason is they see it as such a potent political weapon.”

Assuming - as many in his party have recently – that the final health care reform legislation will get no Republican support, Baird defended use of a Senate procedural measure called reconciliation which allows certain budgetary bills in the Senate to be passed with just 51 votes.

“The choice you’re left with is a majority vote which I think most people think is how we ought to do things anyway,” Baird told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “And, secondly, the Republicans used reconciliation on multiple times including for the mother of all deficit increases, the Bush tax cuts.”

Baird previously voted against the health care reform bill that passed in the House. Now the Washington Democrat is trying to determine whether he will support a final bill based largely on the version passed by the Senate but modified slightly to address some issues of particular concern to the White House and House Democrats.

Related video: Dem unsure on health care

Baird, who was a practicing neuropsychologist before being elected to Congress, told Crowley he supports the idea of overhauling the health care system. “We have to do something and I actually applaud President Obama and the Democratic Party for taking this difficult challenge on,” he said.

“The question is: Is this the best way we can do reform?,” Baird said of his reservations. “It is very complicated. It will be expensive.” Baird quickly noted that both the House and the Senate bill would be largely paid for and have both been projected to reduce the deficit over time.

Baird said he would have approached crafting a bill “a good bit differently.”

“I would like to see us start and say ‘What are the things we can agree on?’”

The Democrat told Crowley he thought most Americans agree that “you should not discriminate against pre-existing conditions. I think it makes a lot of sense to be able to buy policies across state lines so you have competition and you can carry your policy with you if you move or lose your job.

“The complexity, I think, worries a lot of people,” Baird added.

Baird also said Sunday that he is not swayed by the notion of voting in favor the bill because his impending retirement means he will face no political consequences for supporting an unpopular piece of legislation.

“My personal struggle is, quite frankly, could we not do this in a much more simple, elegant, direct, straightforward way? I think we could. I doubt I’m going to get a chance to do that, so the difficult choice for some of us is to say: ‘This is not the bill I would write, by a darn sight, but it is certainly better than the status quo. What would we do if we don’t have this option?’”

Asked by Crowley whether he would vote against a final bill after determining it did not met his personal criteria even if that vote meant that one of the president’s top domestic agenda items would not pass, Baird did not hesitate: “Yes.”

But Baird quickly sought to clarify. The retiring Democrat said it would be “a tragedy” if some type of health care reform was not enacted. “And so that’s the choice. I don’t think this bill is what I would like to see us do if I ran the universe, as it were, but I don’t get to do that so the status quo is unsustainable.”

After a year of legislative work on health care reform on Capitol Hill, the White House has recently stepped in to try to move the process forward. Right now congressional Democrats are waiting for the administration to release final legislative language for a bill that would be put to a vote in both chambers through the reconciliation procedure. The bill crafted by the White House would contain a number of tweaks to the health care reform bill passed by the Senate late last year. In order to harmonize the provisions of the two separate bills passed by the House and Senate last year, the House will be asked to pass the Senate bill unchanged and then both chambers would be asked to vote on the White House bill.

Senate Democrats have had to fall back on the reconciliation process after losing the critical 60th vote in their caucus when Republican Scott Brown won a recent special election to occupy the seat held for decades by the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

Filed under: Democrats • Health care • House • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Annie against biased news:

    Stop lying already. Rationing is NOT part of the health care bill. I'm getting very tired of reading this on every single article you comment on.

    March 7, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Ruth

    The republicans don't want the health care bill to pass because most of them are being given perks or money from insurance companies and lobbiest and drug companies. Don't you people get the picture? It will hurt their life style. The insurance can charge anything they want if this bill isn't passed. Think america think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. rory

    So John your rational would lead me to beleive the bill in its self is not all that bad and that some repubs should actually vote this bill into law. According to your logic it is the political desires and not the substance that is driving the conflict.

    March 7, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Mike

    This bill will destroy our country in the long run. I also refuse to have my tax dollors be spent in abortion. We the Tea Party are writing our congressmen every day.

    March 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    "Sue" is such a Fox mouthpiece! She has all the buzz phrases down pat, including that old saw that the majority of Americans don't want this health care reform to pass.

    The Republicans have fought this all the way – including not admitting to all of their ideas that have been made part of the reform bill.

    This process has taken over a year – there's no ramming/jamming/cramming going on.

    The only thing that is happening is the Republicans are continuing to whine and squeal because they're not getting their way.

    March 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    Sue – actually you're wrong. Most Americans want the public option. Do you know that in the last few weeks insurance companies who have monopolies in nearly every state have raised rates in 11 of them from 20-75%? What do you think is going to happen to employer provided health care when they can no longer afford to insure their employees? Those employees are going to be in the same boat as those of us who are self insured. High premiums, high deductibles, low reimbursement. It's crushing us. Why is this so hard to understand? Unregulated companies gouge us, and we're being gouged. 61% of all bankruptcies have to do with out of control medical costs. And most of those 61% have insurance! Blue Cross Anthem in CA raised rates 39% after their parent company Wellpoint made a profit of $2.7 Billion the previous quarter – QUARTER! These companies are spending $1.4 Million PER DAY to stop reform instead of paying it towards claims. Why do you think that is? You are either horribly misinformed or work for the insurance industry and have been instructed to spread their talking points.

    March 7, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Brian from washington

    My health insurance was just increased by 34 percent - and I didn't use it once last year. No, we don't need health care reform. Things are just fine.

    March 7, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Rush is too far left

    Funny, most of the liberal accusations on here seem to be self descriptions.

    March 7, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Tyrone in New York City

    People stop being being fooled by the RupubliCANTS. Wake up America. Its like 40% of the country went to sleep again after Nov. 4, 2008. Must so many people always be so easily subjected to scare tactics...our American politics is worse than that of some third world country. At least Dems aren't scared to speak their mind like the guy did in the article, including maybe voting against his own party. Repubes are solely for their party first and don't give a rat's a– about this country so long as it has nothing to do with not helping their rich buddies out. Get off the drugs America and wake the f- up.

    March 7, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Steve

    And when the President's first term is over, the GOP will point out that the Dems did nothing .... never admitting they stalled and prevented anything from passing. This is their usual technique. This shows that the GOP only approves of democracy when it suits them otherwise they stop the government from working.

    March 7, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. Sue

    GI Joe:

    Go to the Real Clear Politics site and look at ALL of the polls---the MAJORITY in the country do NOT want Obamacare-–whether it is the House or Senate version--the MAJORITY does NOT want it.

    And, yes it definitely is about power/control.

    Otherwise, they would have been working with Republicans-–with transparent, bipartisan approaches/solutions--to make the few changes to our current system that are flawed.

    But, this wasn't enough for Obama, Pelosi, and Reid--they want to use health care as a means of gaining total power/control over US citizens/workers--just like many socialists/marxists before them have done.

    March 7, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    "Hammerer" says The Dems have decided that the working class will pay their "fair share" to provide healthcare for the lazy that will not work and the crowd that decides to buy drugs and alcohol and party along with spending money on bad choices instead of getting the necessary things such as healthcare and providing for their own.

    So you're saying that people are "lazy" even if they and their spouse both work full-time jobs for companies that can't afford to provide them with health care coverage because the insurance companies have jacked their premuims through the roof (in some states this year, it will go up 39%)?

    And what exactly do you call an insurance company that denies you coverage because of a pre-existing condition or drops you when you get sick or decides they don't want to pay for a procedure because it's too expensive?

    You like that kind of "control over your life"?

    March 7, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. Rush is too far left

    Yes, the majority of americans agree health care reform is needed, including me, however, this country does not need the current proposal. It will do more harm than good to the country. "massive healthcare reform" all at one time is a very bad idea. Ever heard the saying "biting off more than you can chew?"

    March 7, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. cspurgeon

    Stand up for your state, party and country. Get a health care plan thru or it won't come up again for 20 years. Quit if you want to but don't kick the country in the ass as you leave.

    March 7, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. ran

    Pass the bill already. The hell with the fear/hate/obstructionist/purity Republicans.

    Do all the peoples business using reconciliation if the Republicans do not want to help. Enough is enough already.

    March 7, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Jason L.

    In the words of the chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, (on SNL) I see that each of your proposals to save money involves spending even more money... Do people really think that this healthcare proposal is going to save anyone a dime? Not a chance... This has nothing to do with saving money and everything to do with expanding socialism at a time when we can't afford our current level of socialism...

    March 7, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Hugo

    GI Joe March 7th, 2010 12:28 pm ET

    When members of my family read posts that call silly names, they don't look for content – they move to the next rational thinker.

    Some folks are just too negative and slandering of the "other" side and not able to make a rational statement.
    Is this the same GI Joe that called for "getting Senators Bachman and Canter in your "literal scope sights"? After reading your lame hateful posts I bet Ms. Napalatano has you and Donkey Party in their little book. You're the Pot calling the kettle black, go fly a plane into a building, remember me?

    March 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. rory

    To the hammerer: Watered down talking points. Not one substantial logical point. Your rational is that the too lazy drinking , drugging americans that do not have healthcare only because they have no money left to buy an insurance policy. Very narrow veiwpoint aveiwpoint that does allow the insurance companies to pick and choose who they cover, when they will drop them and whatever they want to charge them for their policy. let me guess, you were not affected by this recession and do not care about the one s that have. Sad..... so sad so selfish

    March 7, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. ObamasRecordDeficit

    I love the comments towards SUE.

    Lets see, most americans want Public Option. Oh really, show me the polls.

    Rasmussen polls have HC below 50% and PO even lower.

    SO much for most Americans.

    AND I'm glad the Republicans are the party of NO. I'd vote NO on this POS bill.

    Let's see, higher taxes, higher deficit, more GOVT. NO Thank You.

    You see, some ofus, are tired of paying for others. Pay your own way, quit asking for more taxes and more debt so you can get something for free.

    I hate this INCOMPETENT President and clowns in congress so much, that I have started cheating on my taxes. I refuse to pay any more, so deal with it you DUMocRATS

    March 7, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Capsaicin

    Baird at least want to improve the system though he has some valid concerns that need to be addressed in the future. This kind of 'pass with reservations' attitude rather than the idiotic 'government takeover' language is what should have been the approach of the majority of the naysayers from the start. But previous comments are correct; you need to start somewhere...and now is the time, however weak and faltering that first step.

    March 7, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    One of my sons was born with Torticollis ("wry neck"), causing his head to tip up and to the right. Because of the severity of his condition, physical therapy alone did not resolve the symptoms. The medically-appropriate treatment was three Botox injections along the affected muscles.

    Like most folks, before this situation, I didn't know that Botox was originally developed to treat people with cerebral palsy (the cosmetic application came later).

    When our doctor applied for preauthorization for the treatment for our son, the insurance company rejected it out of hand, because of the expense ($800 for the injections) and because of the more common cosmetic usage (even though the treatment was for an 8-month-old infant).

    After a quick Internet search, our doctor found several medical studies that supported the effectiveness and appropriateness of using Botox for Torticollis – and the insurance company approved the procedure.

    The Botox worked and it, in conjunction with intensive physical therapy, have relieved the majority of symptoms. Five years later, you would not know that my son was born with Torticollis.

    Long story short: Insurance companies only care about money; they don't care about your health.

    Without health care reform, we will continue to be at the mercy of these greedy companies who would rather see you suffer than spend money.

    March 7, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. db

    This health care reform is nothing more than Failur recovery act bill which is suppose to create jobs. Where are the jobs? Think people, before Brown win, This bill did not had any vote until bribery started within the democratic party. Even with the, reconcile they barely have democratic votes. Why that is?

    March 7, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Chris

    A favorite talking point of the Right is that "America has the best Health Care in the world." Well that's true provided you only add one little addendum: "-if you're rich." For the majority of us working slobs in the Middle Class and the Poor, America's Health Care is actually ranked 34th amongst the world. Medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country while in all other countries with some sort of socialized medicine that is completely unheard of. Even those of us who are lucky not to have any major health problems, insurance premiums still take out a healthy chunk from our paychecks. The other day a woman testified to congress that her insurance premiums were actually costing her more than her mortgage I've talked to others whose insurance rates in just the last year have gone up anywhere from 25% to 75%.

    So, yes, for the Rich, America does have the best Health Care. And the Rich are the only people that matter to Republicans.

    March 7, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    "Mike" says he doesn't want his tax dollars "spent on abortion."

    Have you checked your insurance policy lately, Mike? My guess is it covers abortion.

    So you'd better drop it fast – and hope you never need medical care again.

    March 7, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. jules sand-perkins

    @ Blue:
    To answer your simplistic, manipulative question, "why would you not vote for this healthcare plan," I would not vote for it because I am not responsible for paying for YOUR health care.
    It is immoral for you to expect me to pay your bills, and I refuse to do it.
    Which syllable of "no" can't you understand?
    I pay for MY health care.
    YOU pay for YOUR health care.
    You never did one thing for me in my life.
    I don't owe you a penny.

    March 7, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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