With the issue he has positioned to be his crowning achievement as president at a crossroads, Barack Obama once again called on his former rival to help him follow through.
Former President Bill Clinton told a room full of Democratic Senators Tuesday that passing health care reform – which he failed to do 15 years ago – is not only a moral issue, but also “an economic imperative.”
Clinton argued that even “the most cold-hearted person” ought to support health care reform simply from an economic standpoint. He reminded Democrats of the political momentum their failure to pass reform in 1993 delivered the House of Representatives to the Republicans the following year.
“The point I want to make is: just pass the bill, even if it’s not exactly what you want,” Clinton told Democrats. “When you try and fail the other guys write history.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Clinton described the ongoing tea party protests against the Democratic agenda as a sign his party was making progress.
Whitehouse quoted Clinton arguing: “The reason the tea-baggers are so inflamed is because we are winning.”
Clinton’s overall message was one the Obama administration has tried to make: not passing a bill is the worst thing Democrats could do.
“So it’s not important to be perfect here, it’s important to act, to move, to start the ball rolling, to claim the evident advantages that all these plans agree with and whatever they can get the votes for I’m gonna support,” Clinton said he told the senators. “I think it is good politics to pass this and to pass this as soon as they can. But I think the most important thing is it is the right thing for America. The worst thing to do is nothing.”