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Don’t throw me into that briar patch

All appears lost for the Democrats on health-care reform. Republicans have boxed us into a corner, holding electoral gloom and doom as the surefire bet should Congress come to an agreement on any kind of meaningful reform.
News Flash: They’re going to politic the hell out of health care next year whether Congress passes a reform bill or not. Remember 1994?
Which is why I say, Hell with it. Great Society Part II.

I say this as someone who thinks it’s clear that we need to move in the direction of substantive reform of our health-care system. Let me state that up front. I don’t see any room for quibbling on the state of our system today. Whether it’s us as taxpayers or us as consumers, we’re the ones who foot the bill for our health-care system, and we’re paying too much for the delivery of subpar services in the status-quo system because middle managers with pencils and keyboards are working on behalf of CEOs and boards of directors and their blue blazers to make profits from the delivery of those services.

Take out the profit motive, which obviously isn’t working to drive costs down or to advance the quality of care services provided, and we the taxpayers/consumers at the least pay less in the end, and we can hope that doctors and nurses and administrators freed from the restraints of the pencils and keyboards trying to make an extra buck for the suits might be able to come up with some innovations on delivery as well.

But I’m not as interested right now in the details as the politics, which are finally starting to make sense to me. Republicans have taken this too far, with K Street dictating lynch-mob-like activities on the part of pseudo-citizens groups at congressional town-hall meetings across the country to try to literally drown out the reform advocates. I get what they were trying to do, that is, scare the bejeezus out of enough Democrats on Capitol Hill that not only do we not see anything approximating single-payer come out of Congress this year but that we end up with nothing and being forced to like it.

I mean, hey, like I said earlier, wasn’t that what happened in 1993 and 1994?

This brings me back to my earlier News Flash. So Republicans ran the Dems into the ground in ’94 by selling the electorate on the notion that they had saved the country from liberal excesses by blocking health-care reform, when in reality all they had done was cornered a few chickens—t congressmen from Republican-leaning districts and convinced them that the sky was falling and won coming in through that back door.

That’s pretty much what’s going on in the here and now. It’s instructive to consider the fate of Democrats in those 1994 elections. It took the party 12 years to recover, it was so bad.

So here we are in our dilemma. I’m not saying Democrats are headed to a swift loss of control of Congress in 2010, but it’s about as much a given as it can be that we’re going to suffer some losses in our majorities next year at the least.

If it’s going to happen anyway, we might as well have something to show for it.

And I’ll just say it here to let you know where I stand – I’d be willing to trade majorities in both the House and the Senate for a health-care system that guarantees coverage to all at a fair price for all.

It’s great being in power and all, but in the end it’s not about being in power as much as it’s about using the power to do the right thing when the right thing needs to be done.

The holdup to that, I know, is on the part of the individual congressmen and senators who don’t want their political careers to end just yet and think chickens—ting on health-care reform will extend their shelf life another term or two.

News Flash: Do like everybody else does when they lose and get a lobbying job. The pay is actually better than what you’re getting now, if that’s all you’re worried about.


– Column by Chris Graham

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