John Graham, dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said he is not surprised that there was little progress made to break the gridlock on health care reform after the first televised summit between President Obama and congressional Democrats and Republicans, which took place Thursday (Feb. 25).
According to Graham, who previously served under George W. Bush as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, a televised discussion is not an effective way for the Democratic president to enlist a small number of Republican senators to support his proposed bill.
In his forthcoming book, Bush on the Home Front, Graham argues that the classic bipartisan approach to passing legislation is an unattractive choice for a president facing a polarized Congress.
"This forum invited Republican senators to play to their loyal party activists and donors," he said. "If President Obama is serious about enlisting Republican support, he should meet informally with three moderate senators from both parties. In that forum, he should invite them to craft a bill in accordance with basic principles that are important to the president."
According to Graham, cross-partisan legislative strategy is attractive to the White House because it minimizes the number of compromises that must be made to members of the opposing party, and minimizes intra-party criticism of the president.