This entire legislative debacle is proving to be nothing more than inner-Beltway political gamesmanship where the peoples’ interests have been entirely ignored — subverted to the self-interests of politicians and parties.
From the very beginning the Republicans strategically decided to make Health Care Reform “Obama’s Waterloo,” by obstructing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that the Democrats might come up with. Public Option? Republicans responded with “Socialism” and “Government takeover.” When that didn’t work — a large majority of Americans continue to favor the public option — Republicans resorted to drumming up fear that America’s beloved Medicare — ironically, America’s ‘Socialist’ health care insurer — would be hurt, because Democrats planned to cut benefits. Suddenly, Republicans became self-appointed guardians of America’s socialist health insurer.
With no White House insistence that a public option be in the bill, health insurance-pocketed Blue Dogs were given the green-light to ensure its demise. Democrats then proposed an expansion of Medicare — a buy-in — to those 55 and up, and the Republicans do another 180, screaming “Government takeover!” Blue Dogs checked back with their insurance industry masters to learn that a medicare buy-in would also be a “no-go” , and thus they ensured its demise. With no public option and no medicare buy-in, Republicans still plan on voting against it; hopefully filibustering it. The actual contents of a health care reform bill was clearly never an issue to the GOP. They have no interest in improving the lives of Americans. They just want Obama to fail, so they can reclaim power. Period.
But Obama approached this legislative initiative with the EXACT same disturbing mindset as the Republicans. If he were interested in improving Americans’ lives he would have insisted that either the public option, or an expanded medicare buy-in be included in any health reform bill. He himself had convinced many of his supporters of the public option’s necessity during his campaign.
But to the astonishment of his supporters, he never insisted that anything be included in the bill, because — as we know now — he doesn’t really care what’s in the bill; whether it’s real reform or not. He’s only been looking at this from a pure political angle (making him as sinister as the Republicans). In some ways his behavior is even worse, because the Republicans never claimed to be ‘change agents’. They didn’t run a campaign based on the premise that they were different; that they would not let entrenched interests control them and author their policy initiatives.
Obama proceeded to strike back-door deals with these entrenched interests — another broken campaign promise — precisely to ensure his own political longevity. He didn’t want these powerful industries — being fearful of their own survival — funding Republicans to the till. So he cut his risks by cutting secret deals, and in doing so became THEIR ‘agent’ — a ’status-quo agent’.
We are left with a meaningless health reform bill — one that would do more harm to Americans than good — as Governor Dean eloquently described it. And we’re now being forced to sit back and watch both political parties shame themselves even further. Republicans want the Senate bill killed for all the wrong reasons, and Democrats want it passed for all the wrong reasons. No one is advocating for the American people in this fight. It’s all about them — the beltway elites.
All this has left the American electorate feeling more cynical about their Government than ever before. Both parties continue to prove that the system is indeed broken — that they are incapable of doing the peoples’ business. Which leads me to believe that we — as a people — have far greater problems on our hands than this bill’s passage.