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Pro-con on whether health reform needs to be bipartisan

Lawmakers from both political parties say President Obama's health care plan needs Republican votes to pass. It does. The need for GOP support stretches beyond vote tallying to political ownership of complicated policy change. For the public to buy the changes, the plan cannot be the Democratic health care program. It should be at least in part bipartisan. Otherwise, reform becomes an easy political punching bag. Republicans have been more obstructionist and delay-prone because they fear a big government program is not the answer. A big fuss ensued about the deadline for passing such legislation. Dates don't matter as much as a workable plan that attracts support from at least a few Republicans. Reform will benefit Americans of all political stripes. To succeed, the new policies must gain the support of lawmakers in both parties. — Seattle Times editorial

Though there are obvious dangers to abandoning bipartisanship on such a hot-button issue, you have to wonder what took the Democrats so long. The reality is that bipartisanship is hard to achieve and is no guarantee of public policy success. For example, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed the Senate with only two dissenting votes, hastening the escalation of the Vietnam War. Perhaps a little obstruction might have been a good thing. On the flip side, Medicare passed without a single Republican vote and is today one of most successful and popular of all government programs. In the end, the success of health care reform will not be judged by how many Republicans (or Blue Dog Democrats) vote for it. It will be judged by how well it works. The stakes are high for both parties, but sometimes going it alone is not so bad. — Jamie Moeller, Global Public Affairs Practice