Saturday, January 23, 2010

Get Health Care Done, Now.

The GOP and the paragons of the right hve been trumpeting the special election victory of Scott Brown in the Democratic state of Massachusetts as a reason why we should give up on the Obama agenda, starting with health care reform.

However, it means almost the opposite of this.

A lot of the voters who voted for Obama last year and stayed home this year (or in some cases, even voted for Brown) did so because really not much is that different from if John McCain had won last year's election. Obama has hired far too many Wall Street bankers and Federal Reserve retreads to set the course for the nation's financial policy. The Bush wars are continuing. Little has been done on the environment. And health care reform has been continually dragged out and watered down to the point where it is almost unrecognizable. And even this looks like it may be taken off the table and replaced by a bill that everyone can agree on which may clip around the edges of the problem, say by getting rid of the pre-existing condition exclusion but probably leave loopholes that in the end will make it just 'feel-good window dressing.'

In fact, Brown himself made the best case for why the public still wants meaningful health care reform. He pointed out that the voters in Massachusetts already have universal coverage, so they would only be essentially paying extra taxes to extend to the rest of the United States a benefit they already enjoy. He specifically did not call for the repeal of the Massachusetts law, which despite its warts seems likely to remain in place. Well, as Tip O'Neill said, "all politics is local" and Brown was able to take avantage of a progressive local law and turn it to his advantage. He also was very careful not to criticize the President directly, as Obama remains popular in Massachusetts.

The answer is to get health care reform finished. According to some reports, house and senate leaders were 'hours away' from an agreement when Brown's election caused some to get cold feet. They should go ahead and finish the agreement and push it through while Democrats still have sixty Senate votes.

The idea that moving to the center will save Democrats is foolishness. To win, Democrts have to give voters a reason to vote for them, and right now, they haven't yet. Throwing in the towel on health care would make the problem worse, not better.


sandyh said...

Throw in the towel? Who's going to do that?

But who wants a dirty dish towel either?

The Senate should vote on the House bill and let the voters see which Senators are really for change.

Either Reid permits reconciliation to kick in or this is not going to get done. I have faith in Pelosi to stand her ground as all Democrats should. Reid is a lame duck and has nothing to lose, so he might as well give real change a chance.

The only way we are going to lose if we cave in to outside pressure. Let's pass the strongest bill we can with 50 votes and Biden's deciding vote and make its provisions kick in immediately.

Let the chips fall where they may. If the voters really want the status quo, then they are going to vote us out anyway. We can at least leave something behind that we can be proud of like Social Security and Medicare.

It's not a time to be timid.

Eli Blake said...

Jim Hightower (yes, there are progressives from Texas) once observed that 'the only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow stripe and dead armadillos.' And he was right on both counts.

Mark said...

Hi Eli:
America is a democratic republic form of government. Sandyh thinks it's an oligarchy where the progressives do for the rest of us whatever the progressives think is right for the little folk.

Sandyh is a real progressive because she is not a believer in reform by election and by democratic process. She believes in coersive manipulation of the process. It's comments like hers that makes broad minded independents and right leaning folk like me think that progressives are snobbish know-it-alls who don't care what us uneducated backwards country folk think. (As you know Eli-I'm not really uneducated). The fact is that most of the US Citizens oppose a federally run health care system. That was true in the 70's when I was a kid and that was true before Mr. Obama was elected and it hasn't changed. That is a fact that should not be overlooked by any party in power trying to push their agendas on the people without their consent. Any party who pushes such massive change against the majority wishes will find themselves out in the next election. Is that news to Democrats or Republicans? No, it shouldn't be. Some Americans may favor additional health care programs sponsored by State programs such as that are working succesfully in some states, but we don't believe that a federal bureaucracy like fannie mae or the IRS can deliver what we need. Those of us impressed with Mr. Obama enough to vote for him for the "change" he promised, were expecting him to be up front with his proposals and keep his word about not making back room deals. We were not expecting what we are getting and this kind of change is not what Mr. Obama spoke about in the speaches that I heard. At NO TIME did he say that he would FORCE a federalized health care program that would in fact restrict much or our freedom of choice in medical care. He consistantly spoke about working with both sides of the aisle to make constructive progress. He is not doing that because he assumed that his election and the Democratic majority in Congress gave him carte blanche for the progressive agenda. He is finding out that it doesn't work that way. Handing specialized deals to different States just to get a bill passed is not supposed to happen. Isn't that called vote buying? Or, dare we say it, bribery? That is not happening, the people will not allow it, THIS REALLY IS A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, and the country really is "center right" by today's standards. So Mr. Obama will have to keep trying to find some way to compromise in order to get some movement in the direction he wants. That's true democratic process. Not "lets pass the strongest bill" we can before Scott Brown is seated. What a progressive! Do progressives really think like this? This is how Rush Limbaugh describes progressives. He says that progressives think they know better than the rest of the country and they are going to do it their way no matter what the voters say. Apparently Sandh really is like that.

By the way Eli. You must not be a true progressive because you work within the system and study and know about current events across the nation. Real progressives like sandyh just go with whatever social program is in vogue without thinking. I'd vote for you.

Mark said...

Is it really this simple? Watch this entertaining 1948 cartoon production by Harding college.

Eli Blake said...


In defence of Sandy, she made the point that "if voters really want the status quo then they can vote us out anyway."

Truthfully, I'd prefer a bipartisan approach if one is available, but if it is not then it's better to do what is right and then suffer the consequences than to do nothing for reasons of political expediency (though it's worth noting that Democratic Senators who blocked health care reform in 1994, apparently fearing their right-leaning electorate (like David Boren of Oklahoma and Jim Cooper of Tennessee,) actually fared worse than those in similar states who stuck to their principles and pushed for reform (like all four Senators at that time from Louisiana and Arkansas.)

That's why moving towards the center just to gain political popularity is folly; it's the classic case of a politician acting like a politician and causes nothing but contempt in voters. Blanche Lincoln, whose very public travails over getting rid of the public option, is in trouble; other Senators who didn't try to publically move the bill towards the center like her seat-mate in Arkansas, David Pryor, or Tim Johnson of South Dakota retain popularity even in Republican states.

That doesn't mean that compromise shouldn't be sought with members of the other side when it is a genuine attempt to move forward together, but if you are the one putting forward a 'compromise' (brokered by you) mainly to try and save your political behind then, well, you become Jim Hightower's Armadillo in the Road. Your opponents still won't vote for you, your supporters feel you're a sell-out and the voters in the middle will see right through it.

sandyh said...

If using reconciliation was appropriate for the Republicans to pass their agenda in 2001, why am I some sort of radical for advocating Democrats have a duty to use it now?

The only way gridlock ends is when the majority is not only heard in an election but also allowed their voice to be enacted into law.

The Founders allowed for a two thirds vote majority several places in the Constitution but did not state it was necessary to pass bills in the Senate. That only became a common practice when the Senate Old Boys Club decided to use parliamentary tricks instead of meet their responsibility to govern.

It takes guts to do what you said you would do. It's apparently a lot easier to debate matters that were settled by the voters in the election. It's also easier to take bribes and jobs from special interests when Senators leave office than to pass the agenda they ran on.

I could care less what those who lost the election think of my motives for demanding that Democratic Senators do their job. They needed to convince the voters that their agenda hadn't failed. That was settled overwhelmingly.

Senators are given power by the constituency that voted for them. They have an obligation to act in good faith on the agenda presented to the voters not their own personal wants and needs.

There is no House of Lords in this country the last time I checked the Constitution. But then the Senate does seem to have a large number of old guys with wigs holding court these days.