The “health care summit” was every bit the useless exercise we all expected. Depending on your position, you saw what you wanted to see. But clearly, there’s no future in seeking compromise with the Pubs, who are too busy salivating over their chances in November to do anything positive. It’s time to pass health care reform the only way possible: through the reconciliation process.
Pubs and their fellow crawlers are already howling, because they know it’s possible – even easy. After all, that’s how they passed Dick Cheney’s two big tax cuts. Oops, I mean George W. Bush’s. Or maybe I don’t. They damn near got the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge okayed for oil drilling the same way: reconciliation, which smooths the way through the Senate and does away with the 60-vote requirement to cut off debate. But now they’re talking about how this process subverts the will of the people. Hey, dickweeds, you’re in the minority because of the will of the people! But, of course, there’s another principle involved here, an overriding tenet that supersedes everything: it’s OK if you’re a Republican.
Crushing deficits? “Reagan proved it: deficits don’t matter.” — Dick Cheney, and nobody could convince him otherwise, not with two wars being fought off the books with credit cards. But now they do matter, all of a sudden! IOKIYAR, dudes.
Signing statements? “A poke in the eye of the democratic process.” Yet the Cheney/Bush administration objected to more than 1,200 sections of legally passed statutes, more than twice as many as any previous administration. I don’t like this part of the bill, so I’m gonna ignore it, and you can just come and catch me, if you dare. Eyeoky-yar!
Recess appointments “in the dark of night”? Cheney/Bush made 167 recess appointments, including the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, before Harry Reid finally stopped them in 2007 by keeping the Senate in continuous session. Before Reid stepped in, they were on their way to smashing Ronald Reagan’s dark-of-night tally of a record 243 recess appointments. Yet eyeoky-yar!
Former Sen. Bill Frist, a proud M.D., lectures us on the use of reconciliation for social issues like health care; he says it’s supposed to be for the budget only. (What does he think this whole thing’s about? – and by the way, hi there and eyeoky-yar, ANWR!) But he lost a load of credibility on the health care issue when he cruelly misdiagnosed Terri Schiavo after looking at a video tape, and sat on his hands while Tom DeLay continued twisting House arms in the literal “dark of night” for a bogus prescription-drug “benefit” that benefits nobody but Big Pharma. Sorry, Senator: I can’t hear you any more on the subject of health care. At least now you have no chance of becoming President, just as Ken Starr will never sit on the Supreme Court. Sometimes we have to be thankful for smaller things.
The Disloyal Opposition keeps saying they have a plan of their own, but they keep failing to produce it. All we heard on Thursday was that we need to “start over.” Well, I’ve listened to their excuses for “debate,” starring this absurd “death panel” falsehood that some sad, gullible people actually believe. By the way, “real Americans,” it’s impossible to be a “socialist” and a “fascist” at the same time, and we can’t take our government hands off your Medicare, because it’s the government-run single-payer program you say you despise!
Well, screw the Pubs. There’s no room to move. They don’t care. They’ve decided that it’s more politically expedient to just say no than actually go to work on a compromise. Let’s keep in mind that the Senate has already passed a health care bill. If the House were simply to approve it, health care reform would be enacted. But if the House sends something amended, then let’s get this passed through the reconciliation process. It’s too important. The plan’s not perfect, but half a loaf is better than none, and the longer we sit here sucking our thumbs, the worse our national problem’s going to get.
Sure, the Democrats are going to take a drubbing in the fall. But we already know what happens when Pubs are in charge: they have the equivalent of wild toga parties and put the Democrats on the defensive — because by the time voters get disgusted enough to throw them out, there’s no chance left to do anything but try and clean up the mess. That’s why Katrina-style incompetence actually helps conservatives: they can point to it and say, “See, we told you, government doesn’t work!”
It’s time to set the mess-cleaning mop aside for a moment and do something constructive: enact the most critically needed legislation since the civil rights era. If you think refraining from doing so is going to change fall Swift Boat-style campaign ads one whit, then you didn’t pay attention to the still-right-leaning Supreme Court’s recent ruling: “Corporations, start your engines!” There’ll never be a more propitious time, particularly if the tea-bagging backlash doesn’t pay any more thoughtful attention to this issue next year than it’s doing now. The moment will have passed — not only to our fiscal detriment, which ought to be enough, but also to our eternal shame as compassionate human beings.