Health Care Reform - R.I.P.
"If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these." ~ Howard DeanThe Obama administration has lost the health care battle. The President made his first mistake when he abdicated leadership and handed the entire reform enterprise directly over to the Congress. That move insured that we would get the pathetic legislation that cleared the House and the even more pathetic legislation now stalled in the Senate. In an effort to avoid the calamity that Bill Clinton encountered, Obama simply refused to take a leadership role. Not only have the Republicans mocked his craven search for bi-partisanship, his putative allies among the Democratic legislators (mostly from remote backwaters - think Nebraska - or from centers of industry influence, like Connecticut) have held the process hostage in the name of this or that conservative demand.
Passing wholly inadequate legislation is not a victory. It is failure. At this point the President ought to simply announce that it is time to go back to the drawing board. And he ought to be prepared to change strategy and play hardball. That, unfortunately, is something he lacks the courage to do.
PS: And now, according the news reports, the Unions have come out against the Senate bill.
PS2: And in a related report we see political hypocrisy in the flesh - Ben Nelson. So, Senator Nelson " a former state insurance commissioner and insurance company executive" who has insisted on gutting the Senate bill of even the vaguest challenge to the insurance industry, insists that he is not susceptible to political pressures. He is taking a principled stand in opposition to the already tepid measures before the Senate. Responding to rumors that he is feeling political pressure from the White House (if only!) Nelson claims: “They are false, period . . . Nebraskans who have known me for decades, know my vote cannot be bought and I cannot be threatened.” He forgot to note that his vote cannot be bought by the White House or Party leadership because he'd long ago sold it to his buddies in the insurance industry - no threat needed.