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*The following is an abbreviated posting of an article on the way Democrats and Americans are handling health reform. For the entire article, read the original posting on OpEdNews.com
Flickr photo by Truthout.org
To the extent that politicians in Washington, D.C. have not attempted reform of this magnitude with a concerted effort for a decade (perhaps, decades depending on how you regard Hillary Clinton's past efforts), the recent votes on health reform in the House two weeks ago and in the Senate this weekend are historic. But, they are no more than contrived milestones in history if you truly assess what the Democrats and their supporters hope this bill will achieve.
The rhetoric of a dominant political culture in America has taken righteous outrage and enthusiastic fervor for real healthcare reform and channeled it into a fight for a weak public option in what Steven Hill recently called America's “House of Lords"--the Senate...
Debate Begins in Senate
Key Democratic senators behind health reform delivered remarks after the procedural vote on Saturday, November 21st. The remarks showed a keen sense of awareness of what the American people want in terms of reform.
Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said the bill would make sure “all Americans have access to affordable healthcare” and that the plan being considered “saves lives, saves money, and saves Medicare.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said, “I can't think of a better vote to have right before Thanksgiving. I think the American people when they really learn what's in this bill will be very thankful that we're moving ahead.”
But, it was Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), a man who as Senate Finance Committee chairman has been embroiled in controversy over loans and bank regulation in the past year, who probably had Americans for real healthcare reform doing a double take:
Dodd remarked that the Senate was “going to have a debate that was long overdue.” He added:
“There are certain things you ought to have a right to. Certain things, not everything. One thing is certain. You ought to have a right to decent health care, to be able to see a doctor when you need it and to be able to afford it without bankrupting in the process. That's what we are attempting to do with this bill. That's what we are attempting to do for the first time in the history of our country---to deal with a national healthcare plan that will serve all of the people of our nation. Nothing less than that is our objective.”
Technically, he is correct. Mandating people purchase private insurance that has no controls on the costs of premiums and saying if you don't buy it you are going to have be fined, is a national healthcare plan. But, it's not a plan any American should be thankful for as they break bread with loved ones on Thanksgiving nor is it a plan that will free Americans from the current exploitation they experience because their insurance is in the hands of health insurance companies...
Placing Current Reform in Historical Context
Presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson attempted to create national health programs for Americans. Eventually, plans turned to a fight for care for a specific age bracket of Americans and, in a span of thirty years, ideas for Medicare and Medicaid came to fruition.
Under LBJ, like today in Washington, D.C., Democrats controlled the executive branch and the Congress. They outnumbered Republicans and were able to shift committees that had traditionally created obstacles for social health programs...
The Bewildered Herd & Health Reform
The failure of health reform to solve the deepening crisis of health care in America is bad enough, but worse is the fact that all of this has further contributed to the bankrupting of democracy in America.
Compromise should be for the legislative process but Americans compromise the democratic process by willfully compromising before the legislative process has even been completed.
Instead of focusing on the goal of covering the more than 45 million Americans without health care coverage, progressives or liberals are distracted by senators Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, and Joe Lieberman who may or may not block health reform. They willingly consume themselves with worst-case scenarios for healthcare and suggest what they will be willing to settle for so long as these senators allow historic health reform to pass through Congress.
Instead of focusing on the goal of developing a system with parameters determined by patients and profits, progressives or liberals regurgitate Democratic Party talking points on why the Republicans cannot be allowed to get in the way of passing this bill (and at the same time, ignore the fact that the Democratic Party is all too willing to let the GOP set the terms for health reform in the current legislative process)...
...The spineless, weak, gutless characteristics of the Democratic Party under the presidency of George W. Bush and even the presidency of Bill Clinton have become characteristic of the very people who vote Democratic leaders in and out of office, who lobby or refuse to lobby Democratic representatives and senators.
And, so we see "democracy as stupefaction." We see people whose sensibilities have been deadened, who are willing to have their expectations managed and lowered...
Obama has staked his presidency on health reform. He has put his chips all-in on this one and if Republicans can use that to their advantage, why can't progressives? Why can't progressives counter conservative market-based proposals with progressive humane proposals, which ensure a better future for all Americans?...
...We as a people are collectively failing each and every uninsured and underinsured person in America with this health insurance enrichment bill.
Stop letting the Democratic Party prevent a genuine economic solution to our country's woes---the expansion of Medicare to cover all Americans to provide national coverage to all Americans.