March 23rd, 2010

Welch Stars In Post Healthcare Tick-Tock

by Philip Baruth

We do love us a tick-tock here at VDB: longer investigative pieces that trace the moment to moment development of a crucial news story. It’s the closest you get to the novel, in the world of journalism. And the Post has a piece up today that you have to love, detailing the healthcare bill’s return from the dead. One hero of this novelistic snippet? One Peter Welch (D-Vermont). Enjoy. — PB

“A few hours after his speech in the East Room, Obama threw a party with an ulterior motive.

“Under a 19th-century French chandelier, he and a few dozen lawmakers toasted the enactment of a law imposing “pay as you go” budget restrictions. As tuxedoed waiters passed hors d’oeuvres and a bartender poured drinks, Obama, Vice President Biden and a trio of senior advisers worked the room, moving from one clutch of Democratic deficit hawks to another.

“The search for votes was on.

“In one corner, Biden reminisced about the late congressman John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) with Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Peter Welch (Vt.) and Lincoln Davis (Tenn.). The president ambled up to the group and praised the lawmakers’ support of the legislation, dubbed paygo.


“‘This is so extraordinarily important for the country. We have to get back in fiscal balance,’ Obama said. ‘Paygo is the tool to help us.’”

“But the real reason for the president’s schmoozing quickly became evident. Looking toward Welch, an enthusiastic supporter of the health-care overhaul, he said: ‘And you know what else would help us with the deficit?’

“Without missing a beat, Welch turned to Altmire, who voted against the bill in November but was on the fence in March.

“‘Yes,’ Welch said, ‘health-care reform.’”

Then Obama draped one arm over Altmire’s shoulder, turned away from the others and leaned in close to his intended target.

“‘Peter’s right, Jason,’ Obama said. ‘We have to do this. It is essential to bringing down the deficit.’”

As we say, you have to love that: Peter’s right, Jason. Not a bad thing to be able to tell your grandkids when they ask what you were doing to make healthcare a right for all Americans, that you were working hand in glove with the President, persuading people one tough vote at a time.