This column was originally featured on CongressDaily/AM on July 21, 2009.
Whether or not you agree with the substance of President Obama’s and congressional Democrats’ health care reform and climate change packages, it’s hard to deny their ambition or intentions. They are trying to address enormous, consequential and long-neglected problems that our country, sooner or later, must face.
The magnitude is, to borrow somewhat from one of Obama’s books, "audacious," to say the least.
But no matter how sincere their intentions and bold their efforts, it is increasingly clear their grasp is exceeding their reach on these two issues. While the Obama White House has always said compromise would be necessary, the cold realities of the state of the economy, budgets and deficits, and, for members of Congress, re-election are going to force a significant scaling down of the health and climate proposals. They find themselves in a situation in which compromising a quarter or a third of their original packages is not nearly enough. Their choice is either half a loaf or no loaf at all.
Perhaps if the recession had not been so deep, or if they had inherited a smaller deficit, the budgetary and political climate would have been such that they could have held out for more ambitious versions of these two proposals