By Walter Alarkon - 09/06/09 02:02 PM EDT
Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderObama meets a crossroads for his healthcare law Music streamer Spotify joins Gillibrand’s push for paid family leave GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Tenn.) said Sunday that any Democratic attempt to push healthcare reform legislation through the Senate with a simple majority would be mean that Democrats were "thumbing their nose at the American people."
"It would be the same thing as going to war without asking for permission," said Alexander, the third-ranking Senate Republican, echoing critiques once made by Democrats of President George W. Bush's push for the invasion in Iraq. Senior Democrats once slammed Bush for sending U.S. troops to Iraq without broad international support and with only the authorization to use force instead of a more specific vote on the war.
But Alexander, on "Fox News Sunday," warned that using the budget maneuver would lead to a bad bill, since Senate rules would require the Senate parliamentarian to strike out any provisions that had no significant effect on the deficit.
"You might be able to technically do it, but you would pay a price in the next election," Alexander added.
Both Alexander and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said that Democrats should slow down and try passing smaller healthcare reform bills instead of one large one. Gingrich said the vocal protests against the bill at town hall meetings and the falling support for President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaPutin denies 2016 meddling: US is no 'banana republic' Black turnout key to House fight In this economy, Latinos are most frequent victims of wage theft MORE and his healthcare plan seen in polls in August should serve as a warning for Democrats against moving too quickly.
Gingrich said that if reconciliation was used for healthcare, "I think you'll have extraordinary explosion both in the Senate and in the country."
Obama is scheduled to give a speech on healthcare reform Wednesday before a joint session of Congress.
Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean urged Obama to continue pushing for a bill that includes a public insurance health plan.
"He's got to stand up and lead and be strong," Dean said.
Dean added that Obama, elected by a significant majority, needs to clearly lay out his plan to win politically.
"My experience in politics, if you don't use your majorities, you lose your majorities," he said.
John Podesta, who led Obama's transition team and served as chief of staff for President Bill ClintonBill ClintonClinton comes under pressure from left in campaign’s homestretch Clinton fails to contain the damage from email leaks Picking longtime fixer as chief of staff proves Clinton hasn't changed MORE, said the public plan was the best way to introduce competition in the insurance market and bring down costs. But he suggested that Obama should be open to other options that would accomplish the same goals.
"We've talked about this a lot," he said. "It's time for people to get in and vote and see where the votes are in this Congress."