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Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California. His newest book is 'Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.'

Obsessive Communication

If we look at the legislative history of the 1935 Social Security Act, it was clear there was enough Republican support in both the House and Senate to make this a bipartisan bill. Later on, after the bill had passed, the Supreme Court voted that the Act was constitutional by a slim majority, 5-4. It's also clear that it took FDR over a full year, including several "fireside chats," plus a lot of negotiating with Southern Democrats (now called "blue dogs") to support the bill.

President Obama's push on health care reform is equivalent, and to make it happen, he needs to:

1) Continue with an obsessive level of communication to cabinet members plus leaders of Democrats and Republicans to put pressure on their constituents to vote for the bill. This will take hours, days and months to persuade the public of the benefits they will receive from its passage. (Some Republicans claimed that the Social Security Act of '35 caused the recessions of '37 and '38.)

2) Play rough with his own party leaders who are ambivalent and could dilute the full impact of the bill. The president has plenty of muscle and incentives to convince his party leaders that their political fates are correlated. If this bill fails, it will hurt all Democrats in future elections. He also needs to show that some Republican representatives, too, will get hurt if they don't vote for a bipartisan bill.

And finally, 3), he must set a deadline so that he can sign an acceptable bill no later than a year from the day he was inaugurated, Jan 16, 2010. This should provide the necessary time to corral or silent the "blue dogs" and gain some more moderate Republican support.

By Warren Bennis

 |  July 29, 2009; 10:25 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I don't think I would use the Social Security system and FDR's stacked congress and Supreme Court as a blue print to push another attempt at socialism in this country.
History has shown and many economist agree FDR's programs did less for the "turn around" than WWII; Secondly, those programs never in Congress's wildest dreams were intended to be expanded to todays bloated give-everyone-everything welfare programs. Get realistic.....what is being proposed will make every government welfare program look like chump change.

Posted by: AverageJoe8 | July 30, 2009 8:01 AM
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It's a confounding problem. By 2016 spending will double to $4 trillion. The federal government making it less expensive is unrealistic. Name one thing they make less expensive. The postal service is broke. Fix that first.

Posted by: Dermitt | July 29, 2009 1:39 PM
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