Senior White House adviser David Axelrod says he hopes the Senate won’t vote on party basis for health care legislation, and instead will vote in the interests of the country, and praised some on the hill for being courageous about pursuing a path forward.
Speaking at the University of Delaware at a seminar series entitled ““Assessing Obama's First Year”, Axelrod answered a variety of questions, most of which focused on the administration’s plan for the health care reform, but some of which addressed how hard it is to govern in Washington, and the differences between campaign politics and Washington politics.
However, the audience for the most part asked Axelrod about health care legislation, how President Obama intends to get it passed, and what might or might not be included in the final version of the bill. Axelrod praised republicans who have broken party lines to work with the White House, citing Maine Senator Olympia Snowe who deserves credit for working with the administration. “At the end of the day, people will vote, and whatever they vote, I hope they vote the interests of the country and not on the basis of party on this bill,” Axelrod said. He went on to add a familiar Obama administration refrain, that the health care system as is, doesn’t work. “I think the health care crisis in this country is real, we’re on an un-sustainable path and it deserves action.”
In regards to the so-called public option, Axelrod refused to endorse that as part of the legislation, but he didn’t rule it out either, in fact, he danced around the subject, saying the inclusion of it in the final bill would force insurance companies to trim their margins, and would cause healthy competition. “You’d have a different argument if the government were subsidizing the public option, but the public option that has been discussed would be funded by premiums, just as any insurance company would,” Axelrod said. “The only difference is it would be not for profit.”
Even if Axelrod left the audience wanting more on the public option, he pulled no punches when asked about the August town hall meetings, many of which were shown on cable and national television, and said the “vituperative” atmosphere at the time was not “emblematic of what was actually going on in the country.”
“I would say the vast majority of them (the town hall meetings), there were people for and against what the President was trying to do, there were many who just had questions, “ Axelrod said. “And yet, in the cacophony of noise that cable T sometimes becomes, you get the sense all of this mayhem was going on out there.” Axelrod went on to tell a story that a network reporter had told him, where that network had sent 20 cameras to 20 different town halls, and while 18 of them were perfectly calm, the two that were not were the ones that made it on television. “It’s better TV,” Axelrod admitted. Obama’s senior adviser did chide the audience though, and the networks, by saying there wasn’t, in actuality, a lot of movement on health care in August, but that legend grew and made it seem something pivotal was happening.
In addition to Axelrod, the University of Delaware has invited David Plouffe, a central role in the Obama campaign to speak at the school. And the university is also going to hold a lecture series called “The Future of the Republican Party” where the featured speakers will be former White House adviser Ed Gillespie and former President George W. Bush who will speak on November 18.