On Nancy Pelosi’s statement that “We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress. We’re here to do the job for the American people”:
I think it’s, first of all, easier for her to say to her members “we are not here to perpetuate ourselves in office” since they are going to lose their seats and hers is a safe seat. Obama — also easy for him to say. He is in office for an extra two years when he can repair his standing.
But I think philosophically it’s interesting to note: Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is now a disciple of Edmund Burke of Bristol, England who famously spoke about whether the job of a representative is to represent or to be a delegate — to reflect the views of the constituents or to act in what he perceives as the common the good or what we call today the national interest. I’m glad that her view is the Burkean view that it should be the national interest.
And I think Republicans ought to be careful about just attacking the [health-care] bills on the basis of its low standing in the public opinion polls. That ought to be an element. Even Burke had said that the opinion of the constituents ought to inform your view, but it shouldn’t dictate it.
I think the argument ought to be on the merits, and they ought to cite Warren Buffett who said the bill is not a good one because it doesn’t contain costs.
He does add — which I believe — that we have an obligation to insure the uninsured. However, if the system is insolvent and you don’t fix it, you are not going to help the uninsured. In fact, you’re going to end uninsuring the insured because those who depend on Medicare and Medicaid are going to be left with a system that is broke.
On Chris Dodd insisting on the necessity of bipartisanship in 2005:
Dodd is right about the democratic spirit and legitimacy. The constitution says that for a very important issue, like a treaty, you have to have a two-thirds majority, or a constitutional amendment, a big majority, three-quarters of the states.
You can legally have health-care [reform], which is going to reform a sixth of the American economy, on one [vote] — winning by a single senator. But you shouldn’t. In a democracy, it ought to be done with a large majority, and it ought to include some of the opposition.