Firing up the caucus

FIRING UP THE CAUCUS…. Taking the whip operation about as high as it can go, President Obama was on Capitol Hill this morning, urging House Democrats to do the right thing, seize this rare opportunity, and pass a health care reform bill.

Obama told lawmakers they have an opportunity to provide stability and security for those who have insurance and affordable coverage for those who don’t, deputy press secretary Bill Burton said after the closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats. Obama again made the pitch that passing the proposals would bring down the cost of health care for families, small businesses and the government.

Obama met privately with Democrats for about an hour on Capitol Hill on Saturday as the House began debate on a health care overhaul and protesters objected…. Obama told lawmakers — who spontaneously erupted in Obama campaign chant “fired up, ready to go” — he preferred to sign a health overhaul bill by year’s end, Burton said.

Rumor has it, the pumped up lawmakers could be heard chanting from the hall.

Now, we know there are more than a few House Democrats who think voting with Republicans tonight will immunize them from campaign attacks this year. The president reminded them of the futility of this approach.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told Sam Stein the president “talked about the politics and he said that the Republicans want us to fail.” Waxman added that Obama said, “None of you can expect the Republicans not to go after you if you vote against this bill. They want this bill to go down for their own partisan reasons.”

It should be a compelling message: up or down, the attack machine will churn. It’s hardly an incentive for fearful lawmakers to do the wrong thing.

The president returned to the White House and delivered some brief remarks in the Rose Garden after the visit to the Hill, and noted, “I just came from the Hill where I talked to the Members of Congress and I reminded them that opportunities like this come around maybe once in a generation. This is their moment, and this is our moment to live up to the trust that the American people have placed in us…. It’s time to finish the job.”