Valerie Jarrett: GOP ‘marginalized’

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As the first anniversary of President Barack Obama’s election approaches this week, Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s friends and closest advisers, says this when asked about an unfulfilled promise to heal the partisan divide in Washington ? to undo the “partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long,” as Obama put it on election night 2008:

“You should ask that question to the Republican Party… I think his message was a profound one. And he has stayed true to that message. He has reached out. He has listened. He has reached across the aisle…His effort has been sustained throughout the year.”

Asked about the president’s promise to tax only the wealthiest Americans to pay for the health-care reform that he is seeking, and how that corresponds with plans in Congress to tax so-called Cadillac health-care plans, Jarrett says:

“Let’s let the process go forward. Let’s not pre-judge to the end. There have been so many constructive conversations going on as recently as Friday with the various leadership in both the House and the Senate. And I think what the president has said is, look, we do not want to have any additional tax burden on the middle class.

“We want to have affordable health care. We want to make sure that people who have not had insurance before have it,” she says. “He is confident that a bill that’s going to be passed is going to be consistent with his parameters, yes.”

Jarrett said all this in an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Sunday.

“I think what we look to the president to do is to lead by example,” Jarrett said. “But ultimately it’s up to the Republicans to decide if they want to be a constructive force and come to the table and work with us in a positive way.”

In the nationally watched congressional election that will be held in upstate New York this week, she says, the near-election eve withdrawal of a Republican candidate who supports abortion rights and gay marriage to clear the path for a Conservative Party candidate speaks volumes about the GOP’s willingness to accept differing views: “It’s rather telling when the Republican Party forces out a moderate Republican, and it says I think a great deal about where the Republican Party leadership is right now.

“It’s becoming more and more extreme and more and more marginalized,” she said. “And right now what you see is a great deal of momentum moving forward, for example, on health care. The American people want change. They don’t want the same old health care system that is not affordable, that doesn’t offer coverage to everybody, that keeps escalating in costs.

“And what we’ve seen from the Republicans is really a desire to have the status quote…. That’s not acceptable anymore.”

(c) 2009, Tribune.Co. Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.