HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more analysis of the health care debate, “NewsHour Weekend” special correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins us from Santa Barbara, California.
Jeff, here we are, a sixth of the U.S. economy depends on healthcare and we have a piece of legislation that could be decided by maybe two, three votes, it’s coming down to this?
JEFF GREEENFIELD, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it’s remarkable. You know, in the old days, big social legislation like Social Security and Medicare used to pass by overwhelming margins. But for the last 25 years, we’ve seen this down to the wire kind of situation. Clinton got his tax bill through with a one or two-vote margin. President George W. Bush got his prescription drug plan through the House with one vote to spare. Obama’s stimulus and his healthcare bill needed 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. That’s exactly what’s he got.
So, that’s what has happened and that reflects I think, in part, political polarization. But there’s also something to remember, all those bills passed because members of the president’s party in Congress are very reluctant to see the president fail.
SREENIVASAN: This idea of party versus country and what you should put first, how does it play out in this vote?
GREENFIELD: I think you can see it dramatically with Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who is the most endangered Republican senator next year in the midterms. With the prodding of the Republican governor, he has said he’s no on this bill because of Medicaid. So, what’s happening, a pro-Trump PAC is going to launch a seven-figure media buy against him. And what happens now is for him and for the other Republicans who expressed reluctance. What it comes down to is Mitch McConnell looking for ways to pacify them with concessions at the last minute and the problem, of course, is that any time you concede to…