From Hardball March 25, 2009. Evan Bayh talking about why it's going to be so hard for President Obama to get his agenda through Congress. It would be nice if Evan Bayh would like to be part of the solution instead of the problem.
MATTHEWS: Can the president succeed in his agenda of big health care reform, universal health coverage, big climate change legislation and a lot more effort on education from K to 12 -- can he do that if he doesn‘t do it through the budget?
BAYH: I think he can. But some of that will be hard and it will vary issue by issue. On the budget and the investments, and you know, real increases in the investment in education, health care, energy independence, I think he can get that. Reforming, you know, 17 percent of the national economy on health care, probably going to need more bipartisan cooperation on that.
And the problem with cap and trade and global warming, Chris, is we can do that, but if you don‘t do it in right kind of way, you run the risk of sending jobs from our country, places like your home state of Pennsylvania or mine of Indiana, to other countries that have lower emissions standards. So the irony would be we‘d lose jobs and not help with global warming.
So you can do that, but you‘ve got to do it in the right way, and you‘re probably going to, you know, need, you know, Democrats from states that are going to be adversely affected if it‘s not done in the right way. So a little less likely on that one, although I think we can still get it done.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s imagine, besides being a moderate Democrat representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate, that you are his adviser. How would you advise the president to get through the big things he‘s promised health, education, energy—in time to get them done before his popularity erodes? How would you recommend him do it?
BAYH: You know, Chris, I think at heart, the president is a pragmatist. As you pointed out, he is, you know, advocating for his budget. He‘s staked out an aggressive agenda. But at the end of the day, I think he‘s going to want what works. And he told us today in our caucus that he very graciously came and attended, he said, Look, I‘m going to insist on my core principles. And that is, you know, reforming health care, energy independence and security and making college and education more affordable for middle class families. We‘ve got to do that within the context of being fiscally responsible.
And then he said to us, Chris, he said, Look, I understand this is a cooperative process. You guys aren‘t potted plants. You‘re going to have your own ideas. I respect that. But we got to do it in a way that preserves those core principles.
So in some ways, Chris, I‘d advise him do what he‘s doing. And I, you know, see some groups who seem to think that members of the Congress or the Senate shouldn‘t have ideas or suggest better ways of doing things. The president is wise enough and smart enough to know that it needs to be cooperative. And if he continues in that spirit, I think we can get a whole lot of what he wants done in a way that middle America will embrace and it will work in a practical way.