Posted: 01:50 PM ET


Can Sen. Kennedy’s death bring bipartisanship to the health care debate? (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN’s Jack Cafferty:

– Democrats are hoping that Senator Ted Kennedy’s death will help breathe new life into health care reform.

Some believe the loss of Kennedy will bring a new spirit of bipartisanship to the issue, and at the very least change the tone of the debate, which has become downright nasty. Already, one group against reform has suspended its advertising out of respect for Kennedy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Kennedy’s “dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration.” Democrats plan to name the forthcoming legislation after the late senator.

But not everyone is so sure Kennedy’s death will make any difference on the health care debate. One top Republican tells the New York Times the fight was pretty much suspended with the president on vacation and that it would likely “pick up right where we left off in a week or two.”

In fact, several Republicans say they think Congress would be closer to reaching a deal if Kennedy had been healthy and involved in crafting the legislation – since he had the ability to cross the aisle and compromise.

And, it’s not just Republicans who will need to start cooperating here. Some say the real question will be whether Kennedy’s passing prompts Democrats who have been wavering on reform to get on board.

Here’s my question to you: Can Senator Kennedy’s death revive the spirit of bipartisanship when it comes to health care reform?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4 p.m. to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Health care • Ted Kennedy

Amber – Austin, TX   August 27th, 2009 2:11 pm ET
It’s time for every member of Congress to step up and follow Senator Kennedy’s lead. Keep to your word, make the deal, and make it meaningful for all Americans.Along with getting the deals made, they should name the Bill in honor of Senator Kennedy.
Gloria, pennsylvania   August 27th, 2009 2:12 pm ET
Unfortunately no, the republicans are not interested in bipartinsanship or anything that will help ordinary Americans. They are only interested in the rich. It’s their way or the highway.
Frank NJ   August 27th, 2009 2:13 pm ET
As long as their are republicans in there will be no bipartisanship. They don’t know what the word means. They were given blanket orders to oppose any and everything the President does and they are carrying out their orders to the letter.
Anne   August 27th, 2009 2:14 pm ET
In normal times, I would say yes. However, we have entered the era of screaming, shouting, Nazi signs, and Sarah Palin. The country is too divided, too angry, and much of the populace is taking marching and threatening orders from Palin and Rush.Bipartisanship is as dead as the dodo bird. I don’t see it coming back in my lifetime.


David in Raleigh, NC   August 27th, 2009 2:16 pm ET
The problem with bipartisanship is that there are two different definitions.The first definition is the one in the dictionary that urges both parties to drop their extreme viewpoints and reach a compromise.

The second definition is Obama’s and the Democrats in Congress definition. They believe they should not compromise and the Republicans should give up their position and adopt the Democrats position without any compromise being made by Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

Seeing that the 2nd definition is currently at play in Washington, I don’t see a bipartisan healthcare solution happening.

Bizz, Quarryville, Pennsylvania   August 27th, 2009 2:19 pm ET
Jack, one can only hope. There wouldn’t be anything more appropriate then to have both parties sit down and work out a healthcare bill to honor Senator Kennedy. This was something he was very passionate about and work for his whole life as a senator. I think it tells us something when Senator Kennedy, is said to be the only one in the senate, that could bring both sides of the aisle together to pass a bill. Kennedy proved that no matter how far left or right you were in politics you could always work things out. I think it will be a long time, if ever, before we see the likes of him on the senate floor.
Jack Carlson   August 27th, 2009 2:21 pm ET
Absolutely not ! They just don’t get it ….. 85% of “Americans are happy w/their healthcare. The young people can pay for themselves, and the illegals need to become legal and pay their own way. Let’s help the truly poor, and disabled..which in total amounts to 10 million.
Tort Reform (anyone who files and loses in court should pay for both sides), and allowing interstate sale of Ins is simply plain common sense.
Jack C
Alveta, Maryland   August 27th, 2009 2:22 pm ET
I certainly hope so Jack, but…it would be a miracle if they did. They are stuck in there ways, I can’t see them being caring enough. And that’s the bottom line, caring for what’s much needed in our country.
Michael Odegard   August 27th, 2009 2:22 pm ET
I think the death of the lion of the Senate will bring the two parties together. The departure of Kennedy should remind the parties about what they are really all about–to rob the American people, especially younger Americans. We should never forget that Kennedy stood for baby boomers entitlements, at the expense of gen X, Y and those even younger.
Jim   August 27th, 2009 2:23 pm ET
I would certainly hope NOT.We tax-paying citizens deserve a more professional, considerate, and thoughtful process from our Congress than an emotional impulsive gesture, made at our expense, designed to make some transitory gesture to the pop-culture of Kennedy-worship.

If they want to make a public gesture, they should do it on their own nickel, and not with accelerating the passage of badly crafted laws they haven’t even read. (”We thought so much of Ted, we decided to pass this crappy bill that only the Left likes, in his honor. Yeah, that should revive bipartisanship!” Huh!?) If they feel they have to make a gesture, vote on commissioning a statue of him; at least the damage is limited to crummy sculpture, rather than the never-ending destruction caused by bad law-making.

If elected legislators want the respect of the voters, they need to start acting like serious independent professionals capable of thinking for themselves, and not like a junior high school clique of publicity-hungry air-heads who have to mimic eachother for self-approval.

Middlebury, Vermont

Mareike Kuypers los angeles   August 27th, 2009 2:26 pm ET
We can only hope.
JWC in Atlanta   August 27th, 2009 2:29 pm ET
No. Washington, and particularly the Senate, is all about opportunistic gamesmanship. The hypocricy of the talking faces speaking high mindedly of the recently deceased are simultaneously thinking about how to maximize political moments to further an agenda. And frankly if he or she doesn’t think that way, they’ll never make it for long in U.S. Politics. If anything, Health Care Cost Reform in general is a more distant possibility without benefit of a high profile influence.
Carl D.   August 27th, 2009 2:30 pm ET
The way our government carries on and on with each other, not a chance in hell.
Carl in Illinois
Jack Kramer in California   August 27th, 2009 2:30 pm ET
Jack,No it won’t. Some will shamelessly try to invoke his name in death to garner sympathy, but most people will see through it. The Democrats are quick to point fingers at their opposition for not being bipartisan and going along with them, but they are not really listening to the the opposition’s proposals either. As they say, “people in glass houses should not throw stones.”
Denis Duffy   August 27th, 2009 2:31 pm ET
I think the Obamacrats would love to use Senator Kennedy’s passing as yet another ploy to gain passageof whatever flawed legislation they come up with. If Obama creates some sort of” Lets do this for Teddy!” comment, I would not be suprised. He will stoop to any means to force universal health care down our throats.Denis
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Jennifer – Winnipeg   August 27th, 2009 2:36 pm ET
Would that it could, Jack, but it is highly unlikely. The ‘aisle’ has grown much too wide … particularly the part that borders on the Republican side. I think it’s too late for members on either side to learn anything from Senator Kennedy’s death. Unfortunately, the ’spirit of bipartisanship’ has no doubt died along with the Senator.
Mark… Voorhees, New Jersey   August 27th, 2009 2:36 pm ET
To assume that a spirit of bi-partisanship will be re-ignited by the death os Sen. Kennedy would be to assume that there is evidence of a moral, intelligent, fair, or respectful attitude in Congress, or for that matter the country as a whole. With the vitriol of the likes of Palin, Fox News and Limbaugh, combined with the mendacity of Congress fueled by the rapacious insurance companies, I’m afraid I don’t see it. And given their actions, I think that we would be wise to vote out the scoundrels who stand in the way of a single-payer option, spouting their talking points fueled by insurance company cash. Based on the behavior the insurance companies, they should be nationalized. They contribute nothing to health care, and exist only for own profit, and the people be damned. That was not what any of the Kennedys stood for.
Meg from Troy, Ohio   August 27th, 2009 2:37 pm ET
Senator Kennedy’s passing can have a positive effect on healthcare reform, if the members of Congress begin to act as he did–cooperating and compromising on this issue which is so important for all Americans. It is especially important for Democrats to honor one of their own by working together and with the Republicans to get something concrete accomplished.
Lynx   August 27th, 2009 2:38 pm ET
Hopefully there will at least be an honest debate. Till now we have people discouraging it. If we were a truly intelligent people we would not applaud those who disrupt simple Town Hall meetings. But we do.
We applaud people who at these question and answer meetings spout rhetoric that has nothing to do with the subject at hand. We attend for information and get noise and diatribes from the crowd.
This is insulting to those who come to actually get questions answered. So why attend?
Any group small or large that will not engage in public, formal and civil discourse is hiding another agenda. We had best beware of them they are truly not our friend. Their agenda must be to our detriment.
Jim/NC   August 27th, 2009 2:38 pm ET
First of all, the group that quit advertising is not against reform…they are against HR3200…facts please when asking questions. I believe most Americans want reform. As for your question, no, Senator Kennedy’s passing will not change anything. He had a chance when Hillarycare was introduced and failed. Democrats and republicans are mirror images…give me what I want or I want vote for the bill. Bipartisanship is/has disappeared in the halls of congress.
Sandy from Albuquerque   August 27th, 2009 2:41 pm ET
Heck no. Those buffoons have already started blaming Sen. Kennedy for the lack of bipartisanship. “If he had been here to lead us we would have been able to come closer to a decision by now”. Instead of stepping up to the plate and working with the democrats, they are hiding behind Kennedy’s death and saying that now they can’t get anything done. What a bunch of losers.
Kerry Florida   August 27th, 2009 2:41 pm ET
I wish it would, but unless receiving money from insurance companies to thwart healthcare reform becomes a mute issue for the greedy bastards in government who receive bribes now, I would say no.Greed and having a monopoly on the peoples health in this country is shameful and remains embarrassment in the eyes of the rest of the industrialized world…
Lesa, TN   August 27th, 2009 2:42 pm ET
It should bring in bi-partisanship. But after Senator Kennedy’s burial, when all the condolences are over, everything will go back to being the same. It’s hard to believe the GOP will let something like this make them wimp out on being the party to let go of their stubbornness. They are politicians, the party of NO, period.
Rus in St. Paul, MN   August 27th, 2009 2:45 pm ET
Jack, it will change things for about 3-4 days, then we’ll all forget and we’ll be right back where we were before; claims of death panels on the right, claims of fear-mongering on the left, and all of the actual good ideas lost in the middle.
Ed Inflorida   August 27th, 2009 2:48 pm ET
“Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration,” this is a quote from the Kennedy family. I would imagine that the Democrats will do anything to push this health plan down our trough and Kennedy death would give it a boost. I have not heard but if a Government plan passes, is Congress going to move over to that plan, I don’t think so. This whole mess is going to be just like auto insurance, we have to have it but a lot of people don’t and still drive so I have to pay for uninsured motorist … I am just a retired individual who is struggling to make ends meet and I do not need another headache.Ed
Jim   August 27th, 2009 4:14 pm ET
Unfortunately for the republicans here in Texas, they are all against anything that has to do with the Obama Presidency. I know several folks here that call President Barack Obama a dictator. Even though we are all well aware that he was elected to office. It’s really sad to see so many people that I thought were good be so concerned only about themselfs. That is the way I see the Republican party. I have become ashamed to call myself a Republican. Whatever happened to being citizens of the USA and caring about our neighbors, regardless what their race, religion, or political party??
Houston, Texas