Thursday, December 10, 2009
The Public Option is Dead...Long Live the Fear of Reform
After Nancy Pelosi did her job in the House by pushing through the controversial but long-awaited public option, it was expected that the health care bill, as passed in the House, would have tough sledding in the Senate. Still, it was also expected to have some form of a public option present in the bill. Well, that plug got pulled. The public option is dead. It's gone. It's out of the bill, and Harry Reid killed it because he was so eager to please everyone.
When Republicans held the Congress, they didn't care about other people's feelings or what Democrats desired. They moved forward their agenda without any regard for any opposition. What they felt was important became law. Tax cuts for the richest Americans, billions of dollars for an unnecessary war, and more items than I can even mention here were placed into law. All the time, the real problems of this country were ignored. Wall Street ran roughshod over Main Street as the gap between rich and poor exploded into a chasm. Democrats waited in the wings for the right moment to rise back into power. The Republicans got greedy, and the voters got mad.
Riding anti-war sentiment, the Democrats were placed in power in 2006. Without a Democrat in the Oval Office, we were told, real change would never come. When things didn't improve, voters rewarded Dems with President Barack Obama and even bigger majorities in Congress. Dems were given marching orders...ENACT CHANGE! Instead, we've been given more of the same.
Sure, the Democrats have thrown us a bone here or there with things like hate crimes legislation that included LGBT and disability protections that has been signed into law. The War in Iraq is slowly de-escalating from an American point of view, and the strategy has changed in Afghanistan. President Obama has done an admirable job repairing the United States' reputation around the world and has emphasized that the United States foreign policy is no longer, "If you're not with us, you are against us."
The fundamental domestic change that Congress was given marching orders on in 2008 was to improve the economy and provide for health care for Americans. On both accords, the Democratic Congress and the Obama Administration have had mixed results. A big reason why is that I feel the Democrats have abandoned that mission the American voters sent to Washington for them to enact. Instead, they've given the obstructionists and the fear mongers too much credence and too much clout.
Democratic leadership...especially in the Senate...has allowed the tea partiers and the right wing to scare the American public and the legislators themselves away from the change we needed. At the same time, President Obama has been, honestly, a less-than-helpful advocate from the bully pulpit of the Presidency by often waiting too long to address issues and to set a suggested agenda.
Harry Reid continues to underwhelm as Senate Majority leader. He has struggled to keep his own caucus in line and continues to be moved and kicked around by the Republicans. Unfortunately, the Nevada Democrat seems to think that compromise involves handing the keys to the opposition all to often. That's what's happened in this health care debate. I know that the Senate health care bill will be an improvement over the current policy in this country which spends too much to be only around 40th in the world.
I just kind of feel like the Democratic caucus, especially in the United States Senate, has squandered this critical moment when the American public was thinking outside the box. The window of opportunity is slowly coming to a close, and I think Congress and the President have done very little to take advantage of it.
The public option is dead, and my party ultimately killed it; Harry Reid playing politics with people's lives. Just makes you sooooo happy to be a Democrat today. Is my sarcasm palpable?