Big Dog talks to Senate Dems

BIG DOG TALKS TO SENATE DEMS…. The Senate Democratic caucus got together this afternoon for their weekly luncheon, and they were joined by a special guest: former President Bill Clinton. The last president to try a major health care overhaul had some advice for those with the responsibility of tackling the same issue now: get it done, soon.

The meeting was closed to the media, but the former president stopped briefly after the luncheon to talk to reporters about his advice to the Democratic lawmakers.

“I basically said that I think it’s an economic imperative. We’re in an economic crisis, we’re trying to bring America back, and I have always been concerned that, you know, 16 percent of our people don’t have health insurance and 30 percent are without it at any given time during the year.

“But the main thing, since we’re focused on the economy, is that we are spending 16.5 percent of our income on health care. The next most expensive country is Switzerland at 11.5. The next most expensive is Canada at 10.5. All of our competitors are between 9 and 10 percent. That means every year, it’s like we write a check to all of our economic competitors for $800 or $900 million. And they cover everybody — we only cover 84 percent, and we don’t get better outcomes. We get worse outcomes.

“So the point I tried to make is that this is an economic imperative…. Second thing is that on the policy, there is no perfect bill, because there are always unintended consequences. So there will be amendments to this effort, whatever they pass, next year and the year after and the year after. And there should be. It’s a big, complex, organic thing.

“But the worst thing to do is nothing.”

The Roll Call report added, “While Senators said they were gratified to hear Clinton speak on the issue, wavering Democrats said they have not changed their position.”

Still, it can’t hurt to get this crew feeling motivated, and encouraging them to follow through on the issue.