Saturday, December 19, 2009

If Obama was the uncompromising hardliner his critics claim he is, maybe we’d have health care reform by now

Barack Obama is the public official who’s so determined to pass something that he can claim reforms the way in which health care is paid for in this country that he’s willing to compromise on so many points that his so-called allies are now getting disgusted with him.

Which is why I find it comical whenever the “right” insists that Obama is some sort of socialist who is out to undermine everything they stand for.

ONE CAN MAKE the very legitimate argument that he’s so willing to give in to his critics that they ought to be satisfied. Not that I expect they ever would be. Because their rhetorical rants were never about discussion of serious issues.

They are about denying an Obama administration anything that could be seen as an accomplishment. It probably angers them enough that they couldn’t seriously knock down his choice for a Supreme Court justice, so killing off health care reform is what they’re going to be willing to settle for.

Because as things stand right now, I’m not sure what to think of the reform effort – other than to say anyone who thinks Howard Dean has a clue what he’s talking about on the health care debate.

Dean is the one-time presidential dreamer and Democratic Party head who thinks the president should just give up the fight for now, and introduce a new bill in 2010. In short, start all over.

MAYBE IN A theoretical world that would be possible, but not the one in which we live.

Because if Obama were to do that, it would embolden his partisan opposition to the point where they would feel even less of a need to listen to the president in future debate.

Obama aides are correct when they say this issue needs to be kept going, because there’s a good chance that if this particular bill (in whatever form it winds up being amended to) does not get passed into law, then nothing on the issue of health care reform will ever get approved.

And this is an issue too serious to dawdle around with. The Clintons tried to pass something in 1994, only to fail and we had to wait until this year for another attempt. Personally, I don’t think the nation has the ability to wait another 15 years (for the administration of President Lisa Madigan, perhaps?) for a new reform effort.

IT COMES DOWN to the fact that I see the 47 million uninsured as a problem that can drag us all down. We need to deal with finding ways to cover the cost of their health care. Doing nothing, which seems to be the Republican preference, ought not to be an option.

Yes, this ultimately comes down to partisan politics. I think the officials who object about abortion, or Medicare or any other aspect are merely using them for rhetorical reasons. They want to deny an accomplishment that Obama could use to claim he did something worthwhile, thereby justifying the faith of those who voted for him and makes those hard-core opponents look quite a bit foolish.

But then again, if Obama gives in so much that a health care reform proposal passes that does little to nothing to change the status quo, we could make the argument that Obama’s presence made no difference.

As much as I like the ideal of bipartisanship, I’m realistic enough to know how much partisan rhetoric and activity has tainted the process. If anything, Obama is going to start behaving more like a Democrat – rather than some Dem who’s too comfortable among Republicans.

WHAT’S THE OLD Texas cliché? “You dance with them who brung you.”

That is what much of the “liberal” complaints these days about the health care debate is about.

I’m curious to see how this issue plays out. A week ago, I would have thought something would pass. But now, I’m wondering if the GOP and the “blue dog” Dems who for whatever reason don’t just convert political party status will succeed at stalling the issue long enough.

Such motivation was behind their tactic on Friday of refusing to support a bill funding the military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. If that issue got stalled, it would force postponement of any more health care reform – probably until after the Christmas holiday break.

REPUBLICANS SEEM TO think that Democratic officials will return to their home districts and hear an earful from constituents who don’t want health care reform. That might be true if those Dems visited their GOP colleagues’ districts for the holidays. But there are also the masses who see a serious problem and aren’t willing to wait any longer for a fix.

Some Dems, meanwhile, are still pushing to at least get a Senate vote on a health care reform proposal so they can claim they acted before the holidays. Then, it becomes the “conference committee” responsibility to figure out what will happen (since the House of Representatives already has approved a similar – but not identical – measure) on the issue.

I’m not predicting what will happen in coming days, other than to say that Obama himself will have a lot on his mind when he and the First Family take their traditional annual holiday trip to Hawaii.

As for those of you who want to complain that he’s not spending Christmas in Chicago, I’ll agree it would be nice to have Obama back in town next week. But then again if it were possible to get a couple of days of sunshine, I’d probably take advantage of the opportunity as well.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Much of the complaining these days about Barack Obama is coming from his “allies” ( At least the president gets a couple of days in Honolulu to recover from partisan headaches.

No comments: