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Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Time To Rest On Health Care Reform

Here's what President Obama said about transparency during the campaign.

Right now, there's a closed room in the Capitol. That room includes Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, Max Baucus, Kathleen Sebelius, Rahm Emanuel and a handful of other lawmakers. That's it. That group will decide what the final Senate bill will look like. What are they discussing right now? No one outside that group knows. What deals are being made? No one outside that group knows. As Orrin Hatch said yesterday, the last nine months of debate is ultimately useless. That's because that debate will have no effect on what the final bill will look like. Instead, the final bill will be decided by a small group of lawmakers all behind closed doors. In the House, the process is even less transparent, if that's possible. That's because on top of being crafted behind closed doors we don't even know who, besides Nancy Pelosi, is behind those doors.

The hypocrisy and broken promise are both simply stunning. This dichotomy is exactly what President Obama railed against throughout the campaign when he promised soaring rhetoric and a new kind of politics. On top of this, President Obama criticized Senator McCain endlessly for suggesting that we tax health care benefits throughout the campaign. He gained a lot of traction with this attack. Now, the final bill may very well tax at least so called Cadillac health care plans. President Obama promised not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 yearly. Yet, he now supports penalties on anyone that doesn't have health insurance. Many of those will be making less than $250,000. President Obama promised to help small businesses but wants to tax almost any small business that doesn't provide health insurance. He promised to provide universal health care and yet none of the plans actually cover everyone.

There's nearly ten broken promises right there, potentially. I say potentially because of course the biggest broken promise is the promise of transparency. Since the whole process is entirely non transparent, we don't really know what's going on. Worse yet, he may yet get away with it all. The debate has progressed for nearly nine months and a lot of people are now tired of it. Now, at the most critical time, the public has began to grow weary of the debate. After all, health care is inherently boring and uninteresting. The passion unleashed by the debate was that much more remarkable as a result.

Yet, if opponents rest and relax now, not only will President get away with all this but he'll pass one of the worst monstrocities in the history of our nation. The bills currently being debated are simply indefensible. There is nothing redeeming about any of them. Only one won't add to the defecit, the Baucus bill. That's largely because taxes will begin to be collected right away while services won't begin to be provided for several years afterwards. Because the CBO only scores for ten years, it appears not to add to the deficit. In reality, it costs a lot more than it brings in. Worse yet, it only brings in revenue through taxes and fees. It won't cover everyone. It will give access to illegals to get health insurance. It will place a tax burden on the middle class.

Yet, if opponents, exhasuted from the debate, tire of protesting it will still pass. So, now, more than ever, is time for opponents to stand up and make their voices heard. It's time now for citizens to call their Reps and demand that President Obama hold to his promises. It's time to support those groups still fighting this reform effort. Most of all, opponents must stay engaged because while the process has dragged on it has reached its most critical period. This is also the most cynical, and thus most easily criticized, period. The president can't get away with what amounts to nothing less than a series of broken campaign promises and one of the worst pieces of legislation in history.


Anonymous said...

Obama is negotiating this in private largely because he has no choice. This is what you get when you have to appease corporate-centrist democrats like Max Baucus and Kent Conrad. This is what happens when you tolerate disloyalty from people like Joe Lieberman and Rahm Emanuel. This is what happens when you make getting Snowe or Collins to vote yes more important than passing a good bill. You're forced to plan your moves before you move, and that can only be done in private.

In the end I don't think it will pass. Not because I don't think America is ready for health care reform, but because I don't think the Democratic Party is ready for health care reform. In time, the Democratic leadership will undergo some turnover, replacing the corporate centrists at the top with younger, more liberal politicians that more closely reflect the makeup of their base. At which point they'll probably make a new push for single-payer, but who knows how far into the future that would be.

mike volpe said...

Single payer is even less popular than this bill, though that would have some strong support. This has support but no one that is excited about it. That said you live a liberal fantasy world. You aren't going to be able to expand the party and keep it all liberal. If the only democrats in Congress, both chambers, were liberal you'd have a lot fewer of them. The same is true of Republicans and that's why I said it's counter productive for Reps to attack the NRSC for supporting Crist. You don't have the votes for single payer. You'll never have the votes for single payer. That gets about 30-35% approval among the public.

The Democratic party is ready for reform, but that's governance. You don't have a bunch of people all believing the exact same thing. That's not how this works. You have multiple different interests all wanting their own agenda. That's the difference between leadership and chaos. If you can put it together for a good piece of legislation that passes you're a leader. If you allow it to spin out of control you aren't. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

America does not want Nationlized, government takeover of our healthcare, or rationing, and certainly do not want to go to jail because we are forced to buy it!
And adding a $250 'carrot' to the Seniors who oppose it most, then hit them with the big 'stick' later, by denying medication because it is too costly, is utterly ridiculous!