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. Ray E.

    Bipartisianship??? If doubling the National Debt, soon to be 14 Trillion Dollars is Bartisianship I don't want any part of it. It is TIME people started to pick up after themselves! Toyato, who got too big for their britches is having to start over. You may also have to start over.

    March 7, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    Yep retire before you get kicked out!

    March 7, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. JohnRJ08

    RCP (Real Clear Politics) has become known for cherry-picking the polls that it includes in its analysis and lost much credibility. It showed a distinct bias in this regard during the presidential campaign when considering polls that favored John McCain and, particularly, Mitch McConnell. So RCP is not the Rosetta Stone of public opinion as some in this forum would have us believe. These people also know full well that the $2 million a day disinformation campaign which has been waged by the private insurance industry has poisoned these polls over the last 13 months. Not taking that and the relentless lying of the Republican Party into account is simply irresponsible. In any case, polls can be and have been manipulated by the opposition to health care reform. Pretending that hasn't happened only diminishes RCP's credibility even more.

    March 7, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Librarian

    For Jules sands-perkins who thinks that "he is not paying for other people's healthcare". Who do you think is paying for uninsured people in this country when they delay health care and end up in the emergency room ? YOU !!!

    March 7, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. Sue

    Annie Atlanta:

    Sorry, you are WRONG!!!

    The majority in the country do NOT want any version of Obamacare-–not the house or senate versions--which means that the majority do NOT want the public option (even more of the majority does not want the public option).

    Again, for all of the liberals making false claims that the majority wants this..........

    You can easily go to the Real Clear Politics site.......Click on "polls" and then click on "health care"---to see what the MAJORITY really thinks.

    You will see ALL poll results---CNN, Pew, NY Times, Rasmussen, Gallup, etc.--–and you will see that the MAJORITY in the country does NOT want any version of Obamacare.

    March 7, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Hannah

    Someone said today "You see, some ofus, are tired of paying for others."

    But you are already paying for others. For all the people who don't have health care; when they get really sick, they go to emergency, the hospital has to take them And then the hospital passes the cost on to you and it is much more expensive because these people are much sicker. If they had had insurance and could have gone to their doctor early on it would have been less costly. But keep drinking the cool-aide.

    March 7, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    51 IS the majority!

    March 7, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. roger in ga

    We got to stop these Insurance companies. It's sad when you get a notice that your Health Insurance premium for the policy dropped last year because it could no longer be afforded is going to go up by 21% with the May 2010 premium. Now that's rough getting a notice of a premium increase on a cancelled policy. Maybe they will cancel it this May hehehe when it goes unpaid.

    March 7, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Marc

    Here's a fact: There are some troubles with the Univeral Health Care System in Canada, France, UK, Germany and other countries. Or in short, the 'Univeral Health Care Systems' that exists in the world as of today are not 100% perfect.
    Here's another fact: People who live under 'Univeral Health Care System ' in these countries wants that the flaws and errors and troubles of their systems are corrected ASAP, and unless they can afford it they don't want to switch to a 'American-like Health Care System' (although that in these countries it is an alternative for the Univeral Health Care System).
    And their systems are better ranked than the American one by the way...

    March 7, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Hannah

    If the Republicans don't want it, it is a good plan for middle class America, for you and me. You see the republicans always support the upper class and don't give a hoot for the working and middle class.

    March 7, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Independent Voter

    As I scroll through he comments, which I rarely do as blog post comments are generally hateful and mean ( as is the case here once again,) I keep seeing comments bashing the Republicans. Say what you will, the math knows no party. The Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate until Scott Brown's election, The entire GOP caucus could have vacationed in the Bahamas for all of 2009 and not been able to stop the Democrats from passing anything. If the bill fails, and I hope it does as I personally do not think in its current form it is good for the country, it will not be the fault of the GOP. It will be the fault of the Democrats alone.

    March 7, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    "Sue" tells people to go to Real Clear Politics to check out the polls.

    RCP is a conservative blog.

    'Nuff said.

    March 7, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. j

    Duh! No kidding. The Republicans/Conservatives are going to take the opposing view no matter what it is. Their fear and hate mongering is in full swing. They don't care about the needs of the country. They're putting their own agenda ahead of everything else. Their ideology is a proven failure and still they find people willing to buy into it. What a sad state of affairs this country is in.

    March 7, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. D.

    We live in the USA, not France or other European country where 50% of its economy is government-run, opportunities are limited, welfare is high, taxes are high, and a moderate socialistic economy is run.
    If you want such a USA, where everyone depends on government and 50% of employment is by the government, then let healthcare be the first to go this direction.
    Republicans are the opposition party and they do not want fundamental change like this to happen in the USA, they want the USA to stay as it is: a place where entrepreneurs can innovate, financial market attract the world, and individual freedom is a priority. Thus, they have to oppose the healthcare take-over (not every healthcare reform) but definitely the one proposed that progressively change the USA into a socialist European country. This was not the change we were promised, and not the one we like! (Turns out government-run sectors are less transparent and more corrupt over time!)

    March 7, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. valwayne

    The Democrats froze Republicans out from the beginning, and put together a massive corrupt monstrosity that will cost trillions upon trillions. No reform of corrupt lawsuits, no interstate competition. NOTHING! NOW with the American people up in arms over the corrupt mess the Democrats complain that no Republicans will support the mess. The Congressman should go chat with Obama, Pelosi, and Reid who froze the Republicans out and put together a bill that will kills millions of jobs and plunge the nation into bankrupcy!

    March 7, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. leonardofru

    ThinkAgain – so anytime anyone has some medical treatment they are entitled to it, no matter how much VOODOO is involved ? Is that what you are saying ?

    March 7, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. CHIPS

    For all those who speak on polls, 1000 – 1200 polled people don't speak for American. Ask your self, is half dems and half reps, or is 800 reps and 200 – 400 dems. How many I's are included in the polls. Just something to think about. I have yet to meet a person who have been polled.

    March 7, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. JJ in NY

    Hey Brian ...........

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and smells like a duck........

    March 7, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. Chicago11

    Rep. Baird – since you're not running for re-election, you have no excuse for cowardice. Do the right thing for America and vote for HRC.

    March 7, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  20. Jim

    How brave of you yes to this calamity and then retire. A real man would stay and take his lumps. Here is an idea...why not try Obamacare on congress first as a test to show how great it is. Oh, that's right! Even Frank Lautenberg got preferential treatment when he went to the best NY Hospital recently...the rules the common people would have to deal with would not give that chance.

    March 7, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. JD

    The GOP is willing to consider REAL health care reform...just not the national socialist nonsense that 0bama, Pelosi, Reid and their cronies are trying to shove down our throats.

    Let's face it: nothing can be called "reform" when it caters to special interest groups like the SEIU and other unions at the expense of the American middle class.

    And it's not reform when Americans are financially penalized for not buying into this national socialist lunacy that 0bama and crew are trying to ram through without real bipartisanship and the ever-promised transparency.

    It's time to scrap this monstrosity of legislation and start over.

    March 7, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Perusing-through


    Give the Republicans credit; they never hid their agenda. They promise to make Health Reform President Obama's Waterloo.

    And amazingly President Obama and the Democratic House and Senate walked into the 'publicized Waterloo ambush' with their eyes wide open.


    March 7, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. roz

    i never could understand why the republicans are so defiant all the time. why are they evil and goofy? just look at some of the crazy people they associate their party with, limbaugh, beck, o'reilly and hannity, not to mention all the others. they would never consider trying to help the average person with health care, unemployment benefits, education, and the poor hungry childrenin this country. they are consumed only with obama and his about helping us? can they grow up long enough to try to move our country forward and show some cooperation with our president? YOU GUYS HAVE TO GET OVER THE FACT THAT YOU LOST THE ELECTION AND SHOW SOME CLASS.

    March 7, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  24. Richie in Mass

    Consider this. The left loves to mention how republicans claim to be opposed to entitlement programs but cry when you want to cut medicare ( a entitlement program). My main issue is Social Security and Medicare are both entitlement programs that are in desperate need of some sort of fix. Niether side wants to touch it enough to fix it. My point is while both plans intent are good we can't fix the problems with them. Why start another flawed program when we won't fix it later? How about get it right now so it doesn't turn into another SS or medicare mess. I hear people saying " it isn't perfect and it doesn't cut costs but its better than nothing". It's not. It doesn't do anything for 4 years and by then it will become unfixable because both sides will cry " you want to take away health care". I am for healthcare reform, just not this one. I would even be for a public option if someone could actually show how we pay for it. Obamas plan raises taxes by a large amount. How do we get rid of the rest of our deficits? You can only raise taxes so much.

    March 7, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Steve-Illinois

    Think again- The insurance company showed due dilligence, your son got the treatment, insurance paid for it, it worked. What more do you want? Should insurance companies just hand every doctor in America an open check book? You blast the greedy insurance companies while supporting a bill that will hand them an additional 15 million paying customers! If the insurance companies are so bad, why do the Democrats want to force all Americans to buy from them? You're being played for a patsy!
    Common sense!

    March 7, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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