Tag Archives: Democrats

How Would You Put Americans Back to Work?

First and foremost, pay no attention to the gyrations of the stock market. The nation is still hurting, and a big reason is that not enough people have been able to find work. Consider this. In December of 2007, just two years ago, there were 1.7 applicants for every available job. Last month, that number jumped to 6.1.

The House is currently trying to figure out what to do about this. Those people who elected Barack Obama and gave both the House and Senate Democratic majorities are getting antsy. That’s not a good place to be with midterm elections on the horizon. But what to do?

There are a number of proposals on the table. Some lawmakers want to see a second stimulus enacted. Trouble is, no one, least of all the White House, sems to know how many jobs were really created or maintained from the last one. You can probably count a second stimulus as DOA, at least for now.

There are calls for some type of incentive for employers to hire new people. They range from a tax credit, to government funding of health benefits, to a straight payment of up to $3000 to any employer who hires new workers. Congress backed away from these incentives when they were brought up before because they worried employers would game the system (who, those capiatins of free enterprise? Never!!!).

Still others want to see some form of government make woprk program similar to the WPA or CCC during the Great Depression. Cost would be a big impediment here. Moderate Democrats would have the same objections they had to healthcare reform. And the Republicans? Suffice to say that anything that they see as hurting President Obama, like high unemployment, is a good thing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging caution, even in the face of mounting pressure to get something done. To pay for jobs creation, some have argued for using unspent financial bailout money, while others say new fees on securities transactions would make Wall St. foot at least part of the bill.

While out and out jobs creation sounds wonderful, Democrats in both houses of Congress have to be mindful of the political minefield any proposal would have to navigate. So as the House leadership takes its time in coming up with a plan, they must also balance fiscal prudence with an urgent need to act. Fewer and fewer Americans are buying the notion of a recovery, either now or in the near future.

So what would you do to put the unemployed back to work?

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Will Abortion KIll Healthcare Reform?

And to think all this time I thought the public option was the most controversial element of reform. Silly Me! Some lawmakers managed to convince House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to include an amendment in the House bill barring the use of federal subsidies to pay for insurance that covers elective abortion. That means only in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother could such subsidies be used. Needless to say, while enough lawmakers found this acceptable to get the bill passed in the House, some were furious.

You know what? They’ve got a right to be mad. This amendment, a bone to moderate Democratic House members, makes abortion available only to those who can afford it. It is a backhanded way of telling poor women that a group of lawmakers, most of them men, still want to be able to tell them what to do with their bodies. That the Speaker of the House is a woman is tragically ironic, but no excuse. Neither is the political expediency that this “deal” represents.

Now the same debate is about to begin in the Senate. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, has already said he won’t vote for the bill unless the Senate version is as restrictive as that passed by the House. Who needs Republicans when you’ve got guys like this? Senate Republicans, by the way, wouldn’t vote for this bill if it restricted abortion, banned any care for illegal immigrants, and eliminated the public option. They’re simply the Part of No, meaning if Democrats crafted it, they can’t vote for it.

President Obama, to his credit, wants the House language on abortion eliminated from the final bill. He’s right when he says it’s a healthcare bill, not an abortion bill. Yet the House amendment presents the clearest gauntlet thrown down yet by so-called moderate Democrats. They presented Pelosi with an all or nothing at all scenario, leading a number of progressive Democrats to threaten a scenario of their own.

It all boils down to a couple of simple questions. Is the prospect of insuring 36 million Americans worth forcing some women to give up their right to choose? Will moderate Senate Democrats, if Majority Leader Harry Reid caves on abortion, then go after the public option? Where exactly do folks draw the line? When does the unpalatable become unacceptable? Keep in mind that unlike Nancy Pelosi, Reid opposes a woman’s right to choose.

Looks like it’s cards on the table time. But who will blink first? You tell me.

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Can CBO News Boost the Public Option?

We’ve been hearing for quite awhile now that adding a public option to healthcare reform would break the bank. “More than a trillion dollars!!!” lawmakers screamed. And many of them were Democrats. Now comes word that a preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office puts the cost of a House Democratic bill with a public option at $871 billion.

For those who like to count numbers, that’s less than the $900 billion dollar cap set by President Obama in his address to a joint session of Congress last month. But wait, there’s more good news. The Democrats’ version would also reduce the deficit in the first 10 years. The CBO report is due to drop Wednesday, and its ramifications could be far reaching. It gives House Speaker Nancy Pelosi much more ammunition in trying to get a bill with a strong public option through the House.

For reasons best known to themselves, so-called “blue dog” Democrats in the House have been arguing for the lame, government run insurance plan promoted by Republicans in both the House and Senate. Published reports say that plan won’t save as much as the one with the public option. So what will be their excuse now? Speaking of which, when will President Obama get behind the public option, for real?

We’ve said this before. Barack Obama says he favors reform with a public option. Yet he hasn’t put the full weight of his office behind it, and he lets some of his aides equivocate when asked about it. As the late Jim Morrison once opined, “The time for hesitation’s through. No time to wallow in the mire”. Let’s put this bluntly. If President Barack Obama wants to leave a lasting presidential legacy, this is it. Time to get off the dime, Mr. President. The numbers favor you, and those members of the House who have fought hard to provide adequate, affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Let the Rush Limbaughs, the Glenn Becks, the Sean Hannitys do their best. They can’t impugn the integrity of the CBO. They use numbers from the agency when it suits their purpose. Do they really want to cry socialist forever? There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the public option, but it’s not law yet. Those who favor it, and many have been doing yeoman work in their advocacy, need to raise their voices even louder.

And I’m not just talking about well known people. I’m talking about the folks who send healthcare messages in every Facebook post they make, the people who keep it alive on Twitter, the underground majority who get that this is a matter of national pride, and can’t be left to the loud, the selfish, the lawmakers whose votes are bought and paid for.

I, for one, am optimistic the public option will become law. How about you?

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