Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Weather Threatens Senate Health Care Bill

The Senate stood ready to pass a health care bill before the Christmas recess, but bad weather all across the central U.S. makes Senators want to go home early for fear they might otherwise not get there to celebrate the big day with constituents.
by Charlie Leck

That might not be so bad; that is, I mean, if the Senate doesn’t get the health care reform package passed before Christmas because the Senators want to get out of town to beat impending storms in their home states. It will give us all a little more time to think about it. Frankly, I need the time.

I’ve very slowly come around to cheering on this bill. It doesn’t come close to what I wanted or hoped for in a health care reform package, but, I reluctantly agree, it is better than nothing. It will be something to build upon in the future.

The real problem ahead is reconciliation!
The Senate bill is going to be far different than the House bill. That means a joint committee of Congress will negotiate out a common compromise and settle on the exact wording of the bill to be sent to the President. That’s good, because some of the preposterous proposals and tagged on mandates can be removed – like the one that promises not to tax anyone in Nebraska (who is under 133 percent of the poverty level) for the costs of the new bill. I don’t often agree with Senator Lindsey Graham, but on this one I do. That is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard. It certainly isn’t the new politics – the politics of change – that President Obama promised us. It’s a dirty, rotten negotiated deal with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to get his vote for health care reform. It’s a provision every state would like. Why not? Other exemption provisions were stuck in the bill for Massachusetts, Vermont and Louisiana in order to get votes from the Senators of those states. That’s not new politics. That’s the stinking, unfair, closed door, smoke-filled room politics of forever! Change? Where’s the change we were promised?

The joint committee will be able to trash such nonsense, however, and make this truly a better bill. Nevertheless, there are a couple of major and significant differences between the two bills that might not get reconciled and then the bill will be in danger of crashing. Here are those two major points that will present real, knotty problems.
  • The abortion question is an ugly one. The Senate bill does not allow federal funds for abortions. The House won’t stand for that exemption.

  • The House bill may come in with a public option. The conservative Senators won’t allow this.
Representative Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, is my current hero. He stood and jabbed at both the House and the Senate and told them the truth: “We need strong leadership so close to the finish line, not efforts to water down a bill to the breaking point.”

You can still have an impact on your Congressional leaders, but you absolutely must speak up now!

No comments:

Post a Comment