Monday, March 1, 2010

The Time Is Now

"America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand."

~Harry S. Truman

Right now the Congressional Democrats and Obama Adminstration stand on the cusp of driving through critical insurance legislation that stands as a major first step in the healthcare overhaul at least a decade overdue. At this juncture the only potential means for passing the legislation will be through a rare but fully legal step known as reconciliation, in which the House would need to pass the Senate bill approved in December (before Scott Brown's win ,when it had 58 Democrats and 2 Independents), and then work out changes that satisfy both the House and Senate. There is some indication that a handful of the House Democrats are going to get antsy, but my guess is that they'll get into line eventually to avoid pissing off literally everyone on their side, especially Barry O.

It's clear that once this becomes a realistic possibility, the Republicans are going to go apeshit claiming that this is some sort of government takeover and the death knell for freedom. Glenn Beck's face might actually melt off "Raiders of the Lost Ark" style (Dear God I hope so. One way or another, there will be tears from that man. Mark it down now--he's going to cry on his show.). The total hardliners will beat their breasts in anger and more than likely, it's going to feed the same sort of Teapartiban acts of terrorism that we saw in the plane attack on the IRS office in Texas (as a side note, how awful is it that people like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) are rationalizing this clear-cut act of domestic terrorism and facebook support pages are popping up? He tried to murder over 100 ordinary hardworking citizens and somehow he's a hero to these people.)

Both the public and Congressional Democrats need to man up and get real about what's been happening. No more bullshit, it's time for action.

The GOP has had endless opportunities to offer up possibilities for real change over the last year, and they've done everything possible to flat out sabotage any meaningful progress. Instead of useful cooperation, they've offered us the following concepts: (1) Death Panels (although it did give me my fantasy football squad name); (2) Scrapping everything to start from scratch, when they had nothing new to offer; (3) the whole "this is the end of capitalism" rant; (4) Vilification of happy, functioning places like Canada; and (5) Nearly irrelevant, drop in the bucket solutions like setting caps on malpractice. The problem with this malpractice argument is that it's always been a tiny part of healthcare costs (as in 3%), and is 110% a red herring to distract people from real issues. And even at that, the vast majority money that is going to malpractice is going to completely legitimate victims and litigation costs, not frivolous junk suits, as this great report from the New England Journal of Medicine outlines.

Nope, instead of offering anything useful the GOP has remained hellbent on maintaining their position as health insurance whores to the detriment of the American populace. And for this reason it becomes even more critical that the option of reconciliation be used for the crisis at hand. By this point, the conservatives have made it clear that they had no intent to cooperate on anything substantial the party in power has tried, as denoted by filibustering 80% of his major legislative acts last year. When once the civil and judicious thing to do for the voting public was to vote your position and let the chips fall, they've instead used these rules to prevent any meaningful legislation to even come to a vote. These are historically high numbers, and essentially demonstrate that one party is simply opting to gridlock the Federal government until they can muster enough support for their plans, American people be damned. The worst thing of all for the GOP is that they don't even have any plans for the future. It's simply to prevent the other side from making real differences. The gloves are off at this point, and for better or worse the Democratic majority has to recognize that and respond.

The good news is that we've dealt with terrorists, kidnappers, and extortionists before, so we've seen this story play out. They say they want something, be it a new bill or a duffel bag of unmarked cash, but we all know that won't solve the problem. Are the Somali pirates suddenly going into retirement if you pay them off once? Oh hells no. It's the same here. The Democrats need to respond to political aggression with a similar conviction, and force through what needs to happen. No one's going to care how the bill was passed in 6 months if it gets done. Again, the time for jockeying, the politicking, and the preening is over. The final step starts now.

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