After a potentially devastating flip flop on the public option portion of healthcare reform, the Obama Administration and its allies seem to be ready to play hard ball. Granted, they’ll have to use a legislative maneuver to get a bill through the Senate. But so what? It’s about time those who hijacked the reform discussion in the first place (including conservative Democrats) have to face a little chin music (a baseball term).
As to those town hall protestors, many of whom compared healthcare reform and Barack Obama to Nazis, witness the response of Massachusetts Cong. Barney Frank to a question along that line.
Here are some real Nazi war criminals.
Finally, an elected official willing to call it as he sees it! Could this actually be a turning point in the debate over healthcare reform? There’s other evidence as well. Several faith organizations are getting involved, speaking out, and one of them will even have the president on a Webcast Wednesday. It’s heartening that the many people of faith who support reform are willing to act as a counterbalance to the agenda based opposition.
The heavy lifting, however, will have to come in Congress. Democrats (at least many of them) now seem ready to go it alone. They realize what a lot of folks have been saying for awhile now. Bipartisanship on an issue like this is overrated. The Republicans may scream and cry about tactics, but the simple fact is, they aren’t the majority. When they were, they used some of the same tactics to accomplish their legislative goals.
The White House agrees. “If we have to push it through this way, no one is going to remember how messy it was,” a top White House adviser told CNN. “At the end of the day, they’ll remember we got health care reform done. A win is a win.” That would be a win including a public option.
And remember this. The public option isn’t the best the administration could do. That would be (and I’ll keep saying it), single payer, universal care. I guess in this case, half a loaf is better than none, but just this past weekend we got signals the Obama people were ready to bail on the public option.
Here’s the real deal. The White House is no longer sure Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee who are trying to negotiate a bipartisan deal are serious. Those talks center around health insurance cooperatives, not the public option. It now looks like Obama and congressional Democrats are ready to end the card game and turn the table over.
One can argue that Republicans never wanted any healthcare reform at all, that the whole negotiating thing was a scam from the start. Same with the notion of bipartisanship on just about anything. That would be a cynical view, one which I came to just after this president’s inauguration. Now, maybe those walking the corridors of the White House realize what they’re up against, and how they have to fight to win.
What do you think? Can the Democrats in the Senate go it alone, and win?
The answer is yes. Just a day after his Health and Human Services Secretary says the administration can live without a public option, other aides now say he hasn’t given up on it. And what exactly is involved with the health insurance co-ops that would take the public option’s place? Nobody seems to know.
All this is why, in a previous blog post, I argued that President Obama needed to start the health care reform debate with single payer, universal care.
Those who oppose him couldn’t care less about the public option, co-ops, or anything else he comes up with. Their end game is, simply, nothing, no change at all. That’s why they spent so much time and energy packing town hall meetings with loudmouthed screamers, some of whom still can’t fathom the fact that Barack Obama is President of the United States.
Now, progressives are crying foul, saying Obama is abandoning real reform in favor of a watered down alternative. It is, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert accurately describes it, “like sending a peewee footballers against the Super Bowl champs” when it comes to co-ops vs. big insurance. So the question must be asked, why? Why is the administration making so many concessions?
Do they not see that for some of those who oppose healthcare reform, Obama himself is the issue? Maybe the president is having trouble digesting the ugliness that came out of so many of those town halls. But he doesn’t seem to understand that nothing will mollify that small segment of the American public. Nothing, that is, short of his resignation.
You can say it’s racial, you can say it’s generational, whatever. There is a loud minority in America who see “their country” slipping away from them. They see Barack Obama and his agenda as the cause of that slippage, and they don’t like it one bit. Ditching the public option gives emboldens them like nothing else could. It tells them, “we’re winning”.
Worse yet, big business is winning. They’re the ones bankrolling the politicians and in some cases the groups that are loudest in opposing reform. They’re the ones whose bottom lines will get fatter if costs aren’t controlled. And they’ll have a giant new pool of clients if everyone’s required to purchase insurance.
And what does the public get? Not a whole lot.
I for one understand politics well enough to know you don’t always get what you want, that compromise is part of the game, a necessary one if you talk to those who play it.