Oct
08

Democrats Poised to Blow It – Again

By David

Will Rogers was fond of saying, “I belong to no organized party. I’m a Democrat.” I don’t know whether to take heart from the fact that the Democrats’ current lack of focus and direction is not a new phenomenon, or to be discouraged by the fact that they’ve been this undisciplined for at least eighty years. It doesn’t much matter, I guess.

medical-symbolWhat does matter is that the Democratic Party is setting the stage to squander, once more, an opportunity to pass the first real healthcare reform legislation since 1965. If this comes to pass, and reform fails yet again, history demonstrates that it will be another generation or more before the window opens again. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands more Americans will die simply due to lack of access to adequate healthcare. Nearly forty-five thousand lives a year will continue to be lost until we finally do something about it. And it will not be the fault of the Republicans.

The Republican Party, as an institution, has never favored healthcare reform. It doesn’t view healthcare as a right, and therefore sees no role in it for government. They managed to get it removed from Franklin Roosevelt’s original Social Security legislation in 1935. They defeated it again, in the late 1940s, when Harry Truman urged congress to mandate healthcare for all Americans. Finally, in 1965, Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law, and it was generally believed that they were just the first step to universal health coverage. The political and fiscal toll of Vietnam, however, squashed that possibility.

For twenty of the next twenty-four years, the Executive Branch was helmed by Republicans, and serious healthcare reform was not raised again until 1993, when Bill Clinton was elected President. The Republicans, along with their traditional allies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the American Medical Association, mustered all the money, pressure, propaganda, misinformation, half-truths, lies, and demagoguery they could bring to bear. Fear triumphed over reason, and healthcare reform was smothered in its crib. Lost for another sixteen years.

It was in this atmosphere, and with this history, that the Democratic Party sallied forth in 2009 on a quixotic quest to rally bipartisan support for major healthcare reform. In control of both houses of Congress, and the Executive Branch for the first time in fourteen years, and without the need for Republican votes, they have all but slain healthcare reform on the altar of bipartisanship. And it was completely unnecessary.

Because the Republicans see killing healthcare reform as crucial to embarrassing, and hopefully crippling, President Obama, there is no healthcare bill that will garner Republican support, even if they know for a certainty that it’s the best thing for America. Everything is secondary to diminishing Obama. Add to this the fact that most Republicans, like many Democrats, are financially beholden to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, there is no reason for anyone to expect Republican votes in favor of any healthcare reform that is not fully supported by the healthcare industry.

Everyone knew this, or should have known it, at the outset. The only thing achieved by catering to Republican demands was delay. Delay that gave opponents of reform time to raise the time-honored specters of “socialized medicine” and “government intrusion” and a few new ones, like “death panels.” And while all the typical Republican sleight-of-hand and fear mongering certainly hasn’t helped to advance the debate, it will not ultimately be what guts reform. The Democrats will accomplish this all by themselves.

Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He has also accepted approximately 3.5 million dollars from insurance and other health industry contributors, almost three and a half times the amount accepted by the average senator. With the help of a handful of “Blue Dog” Democrats, his committee will be responsible for producing a healthcare reform bill that is little more than a huge gift basket to the healthcare industry. The elected senators and congressmen who are most opposed to real reform, Democrat or Republican, are the ones who have taken the most money from the industries that would be affected by it. Pardon my cynicism for seeing a connection.

The bill about to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee will leave millions of Americans still uninsured. It will subsidize some low income Americans, but not nearly everyone who cannot afford coverage. It will not include a public option for those who do not have and cannot afford coverage on the open market. It will not address the cost of premiums, or deductibles, or copayments, or care, or medications. The bill, in its present form, will not protect Americans with “preexisting conditions” and it will leave the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to continue business as usual at the expense of the American people.

The good news for Republicans in all of this is that they should retake control of one or more branches of the government, and rightfully so. The American people gave the Democrats large majorities in both houses, and the presidency, because the Republicans under George Bush and Dick Cheney had forfeited their right to govern. They had, as Americans saw it, done such a poor job that it was time to give the other side an opportunity to show what they could do.

When Republicans were in charge, they did what they wanted. All the whining and crying from Democrats didn’t even slow them down. Their attitude was, “We won. We’re the majority. Shut up and sit down.”

If the Democratic majority, with a Democratic president, cannot come together to produce the cornerstone legislation that was promised to the American people, and that a large majority of Americans still want and expect, then they will forfeit their right to govern. And they cannot blame the Republicans for the failure of healthcare reform. The Republicans were doing what they always do. Anyone who was surprised by it is a fool. It is up to the Democrats to ignore Republicans and do what they know is right. So far, they haven’t shown a willingness to do that. And if they can’t fix it, they will pay the price.

David Perkins

Comments

  1. Kent Perkins says:

    David, I agree with your article on all the major points. You know I am a rare Republican in favor of universal health care, so my perspective will not fit in with many of my conservative peers. But you have a very good grasp of history and an analytical mind suitable for blogging at the highest levels in the hemisphere…

    I agree 100% with the facts you presented; I disagree with some of your opinions, though.

    to wit:

    “Because the Republicans see killing healthcare reform as crucial to embarrassing, and hopefully crippling, President Obama, there is no healthcare bill that will garner Republican support, even if they know for a certainty that it’s the best thing for America. Everything is secondary to diminishing Obama.” — you’re too cynical here, David. Very, very few Republican legislators have anything in mind but two things: serving the people they represent with what they really believe is best for America, and placating the last lobbyist in their office with the fattest check. And between the two, the lobbyist wins. If they can embarrass Obama along the way, good enough…but that’s not their main goal. Their main goal is selling their votes to the highest bidder. (I hate to write these words, but they’re true.)

    Another area we might disagree:

    “The bill, in its present form, will not protect Americans with “preexisting conditions” and it will leave the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to continue business as usual at the expense of the American people.” David, if insurance companies are forced to insure everyone, including those already with AIDS, cancer, diabetes, etc., it won’t be long until their rates triple or they go out of business. Even the most naive legislator on Capital Hill knows such law would force everyone into the single payer system. And if making a profit is “business as usual” then it’s exactly as it should be…after all, Michael Moore hasn’t destroyed Capitalism here….yet…

    and thirdly:

    “If the Democratic majority, with a Democratic president, cannot come together to produce the cornerstone legislation that was promised to the American people, and that a large majority of Americans still want and expect, then they will forfeit their right to govern.” I don’t know which polls show a large majority of Americans want and expect universal health care. In fact, the polls I’ve seen suggest the opposite…that the lagging support of the American people has Dem’s and Republicans alike shrugging away in fear of retaliation if they touch that puppy with a ten-foot poll.

    I am proud to say, though, that you and I share a great deal of concern over the 17 million uninsured American citizens, or, if you include the illegal aliens, the 47 million combined uninsured in this country. I’d like to deduct the cost of insuring Mexico’s citizens from the checks we write every month to Pemex, the nationalized, fully socialized oil company owned by the (People’s) Republic of Mexico. We are Mexico’s biggest customer, and Mexico is our third largest supplier…after Saudi Arabia and Canada, I think….of petroleum. At $70 a barrel, they can afford to not only pay for their citizens’ health care in Mexico, they can also pay for Mexican citizens’ health care over here, don’t you think? After we collect that money, we should bill them for all the court appointed attorneys they use (why should that be OUR problem?) and then bill them for all the public education, food stamps, and public housing they consume over here. Wouldn’t that be fair? That would free up billions which your Democratic colleagues could spend as they please….like giving it to ACORN.

    “Jose, can you see,
    in the dawn’s surly light – - – ”

    Shall we pray?

  2. B.W. Ash says:

    Or, as the moral equivalent of “What would Jesus do?” one asks what is the morally correct highground to take on the question of healthcare for illegal immigrants? Jesus certainly answered this when he healed a Samaritan woman and a Roman soldier’s son. “Who is your neighbor?” he asked in the tale of the “Good Samaritan.” The answer is that anyone who needs help in your country, and you are able to supply such help. It is a sin to withhold that good. But you see what happened to Jesus. The Conservatives of his day could not allow him to live. It affected their bottom line. The sinners win in this world.

    In my own case, I had Blue Cross/Blue Shield at my workplace until the cost tripled and my employers decided to choose staying in business over healthcare for the employees. Since I am diabetic – well you see the implications for me with a “preexisting condition.” I don’t qualify for what I need – but that’s fine. I am no worse off than those who currently have health insurance. Only the top 1% will be able to afford the luxury of living in the future, so I don’t worry about what shall I eat or what shall I drink, or even what shall I do if some debilitating injury or illness should befall me?

    I have to leave all of those details to the “Great Physician” since neither my government nor my “neighbors” care what happens to anyone but themselves.

  3. Kent Perkins says:

    Barney, you’re a terrific guy, but I think you misunderstood something….read my post again, please.

    I never said we shouldn’t take care of illegal aliens. I just have a problem with who’s footing the bill.

    If a burglar breaks into your house and gets hurt doing it, and you find him there bleeding, you’d certainly put a tourniquet on his wound and get him to a hospital, but you might have a problem with his health care bill if he expected you to pay it. That’s kind of what we’re dealing with here….Mexicans break the law, sneak into our country and get sick. I say, ” . . . get ‘em well and send their bills back to where they came from… to their own country…it has plenty of oil revenues.”

    Racial stereotypes and political stereotypes should be obsolete in this enlightened age. Please don’t take such a cynical view of conservatives, and don’t put us all in the same bag; in return, I promise not to put you with Cindy Sheehan, Keith Olberman or Michael Moore.

    In the words of a great Liberal spokesperson (after 8 cops beat him to a pulp following a two hour chase on Los Angeles freeways) Rodney King: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

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