Sen. Ben Nelson hopes to offer President Obama some friendly health care advice when he and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) meet at the White House today: Slow down.
"Let's not set an arbitrary deadline and say, 'We've got to have something done by the August recess,' (even) if it can't be done, so we don't end up with a self-fulfilling failure," said Nelson on Thursday after speaking on the Senate floor and before heading over to the White House.
Nelson, a conservative Democrat from Nebraska, said that it would be better to say that just getting something "...out of the Finance Committee onto the floor is progress. So let's identify progress and keep moving in the right direction."
Nelson wasn't certain, however, that he'd be asked for his opinion.
"He's called the meeting. I'm going to find out what he has to say," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to hear from him. I guess I would hope that he would ask my opinion on how to proceed and give me his ideas. We've had that kind of exchange before, as we did most recently on the stimulus package. So it's a sharing of thoughts back and forth. That's what it's about."
Nelson played a central role during the stimulus debate. He helped pull three GOP votes over to the Democratic side, but cut tens of billions of dollars in aid to states in the process. Now state governments are cutting services and laying off workers, which undermines the purpose of the stimulus package.
Obama has called for a full Senate vote on health care reform before Congress breaks for the August recess.