Tag Archives: public option

Does the Senate Have the Guts to Pass Healthcare Reform?

This past weekend’s vote to begin debate in the upper House was heartening, but anyone who follows politics knows it’s the first skirmish in a long battle. Credit ought to be given to Majority Leader Harry Reid for having the guts to see the first step through.

I have been critical of his leadership in the past, but I take it all back (can you do that in one post?). Harry Reid came through like a champ, not like some of his colleagues, and I’m not talking about Republicans. You don’t expect them to have any heart when it comes to providing quality affordable care to millions of Americans for whom that’s just a pipe dream now.

senator-harry-reid

I’m talking about  a few Senate Democrats, and that independent who dares to caucus with them. Joe Lieberman should have been tossed out on his ear the day he addressd the Republican National Convention on behalf of John McCain. Now he couldn’t wait until the last echoes of Saturday’s vote to allow debate to go on tv and try to eviscerate the public option. “If the public option is still in there, the only resort we have is to say no at the end to reporting the bill off the floor,” says the Senator from Connecticut. Ben Nelson of Nebraska isn’t much better.

What they’re saying is the next step, after a lot of contentious debate, may be for opponents of the bill to filibuster.  At that point, the only recourse may be the complex and misunderstood procress of reconciliation. Trust me, it’s not nearly as benign as it sounds. Suffice to say that’s how Bush got his two tax cuts through, but would it work for healthcare reform?

Reconciliation is about the only way you can get a bill through the Senate without the 60 votes necessary to bring it to the floor. That is, bypassing the usual obstructive devices, like the filibuster. The jury is still out of whether the health bill fits the criteria necessary to be eligible for reconciliation. Absent that, Harry Reid will have to find a couple of Republicans who will go along with the overwhelming majority of Democrats to get this thing done.

This is usually the cue for political junkies to look to the two senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Snowe, however, has as big a problem with the public option as Lieberman does. Make no mistake. A bill without a public option isn’t acceptable, nor should it be to President Obama (we’ll see).

So you tell me. Does this Senate have the guts to pass a healthcare reform bill with a public option?

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Are You Sick of the Debate Over the Public Option?

I was hoping not to have to write about this anymore, but, quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of the vacillating, equivocal maneuvering on the public option. And that’s from lawmakers we believe to be our friends, including the current occupant of the White House.

There are published reports that President Obama is more interested in the politics of the public option than actually getting a strong one done.

If it’s true, this is hardly change we can believe in. Senator Harry Reid is to be commended for at least trying to get a bill with the public option to the Senate floor.

Senator Harry Reid
Senator Harry Reid

Joe Lieberman, if he’s ready to support a filibuster on any bill containing a public option ought to be summarily stripped of his committee chair, and sent packing to the GOP caucus (that idea comes from my good friend Brent Budowsky). Even the House has caved, somewhat, with Nancy Pelosi now saying she’ll bring a bill to the floor with a public option that’s not pegged to Medicare rates.

Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman

That means not so robust as the one people were talking about just days ago. Then in the Senate there’s talk of opt outs and triggers (reportedly the one the President favors).

And what does all this mean when taken together? OUR LAWMAKERS ARE PUNKS!!!

There’s no other way to put it. And this cowardice is from the TOP DOWN! The public wants the public option (and that may not count people like my and my friend Sanda Aronson who want single payer). Four out of five congressional committees passed bills containing the public option.

So why is Joe Lieberman and his fellow travelers such a large roadblock?

I hate to say this, but it’s the President. Barack Obama thinks he needs bipartisan healthcare reform. He hasn’t sent those people in his administration whose job it is to twist arms to go out and do what they’re paid for. Somebody ought to be saying that the Joe Liebermans of the current Congress aren’t acting in  the best interest of their constituents. They’re pimping Americans with pre-existing conditions for the dollars that come from big insurance and big pharma.

I shouldn’t have to say this. Neither should Brent Budowsky, Ed Schultze, Randi Rhodes, Rachel Maddow or the others who have kept the fight going through all the nonsense the public has been exposed to.

Would these same jackals who bleat about government run health care prefer to leave national security to the bindlestiffs at Blackwater? Oh, sorry, they already did.

Sorry to vent, but I’m sick and tired. How about you?

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Public Option Punked? And By Whom?

So the Senate Finance Committee decided to vote no on two proposals that would have put a public option in their versions of a healthcare reform bill. Both proposals, one by Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and the other, from Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, went down to defeat because of the treachery of a total of five Democrats.

Does this mean the public option is dead?

Nope. It just means there are a majority of lawmakers on the Finance Committee prefer to look out for themselves instead of the American people. The Republican rationale drips with hypocrisy. These people have taken “government can’t do anything right” as their personal mantra. Yet why do they oppose the public option? Because they’re deathly afraid government will do healthcare right, and put some of their buddies in the health insurance business out looking for other work.

And some of them should be. I’m talking about those who won’t insure people with pre-existing conditions, those who drop people the minute they get sick, those who raise rates to unconscionable levels for no reason other than to rake in big bucks. Some of those bucks they turn around and spend on the same elected officials who would have us believe their votes are about principle.

For the record, the Democratic punks of the Senate Finance Committee include Senators Max Baucus (committee chair), Kent Conrad, Blanche Lincoln, Bill Nelson, and Thomas Carper. Each will say they have legit reasons for opposing a public option. It’s nonsense, pure and simple.

So, what’s next?

President Barack Obama, that’s what!

He says he supports a public option, but as yet he hasn’t insisted on it.

Now is the time, Mr. President. Time to play hardball, time to stand up for the people who elected you. It’s time to tell the punks you won’t sign any healthcare reform bill that crosses your desk without a public option. If you can tell a sitting Democratic Governor of New York to drop out of a race that’s a year away, you can do this.

It ought to be a piece of cake.

Healthcare reform without a public option is no reform at all. That’s why the Republicans are making it their last stand. They don’t want real competition for their friends in the healthcare industry. The issue here really isn’t them, but what the “good Democrats” in Congress and at the White House are prepared to do.  Is Harry Reid ready to use reconciliation to get this thing done?

And will the House eventually hammer out a bill with a public option that can win a majority?

You tell me. Is the public option still alive?

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