Senate Democrats are considering using passing their health care reform bill under ‘budget reconciliation’ rules that would allow them to pass it with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes they would need to avoid a filibuster. I am all for it. We have waited too long for this already and not only will delaying hurt the individuals who lack insurance but our current system puts our companies at a disadvantage when competing against foreign companies whose governments provide their citizens with care.
My ultra paranoid side also thinks this is a national security issue – for economic and public health reasons. As the planet warms up and as we travel farther and more often so do the vectors that carry infectious disease. Even without travel, diseases like TB have already mutated to be drug resistant. A large reason for this is that many who are infected cannot afford the lengthy treatment. Add Dengue fever, Malaria, etc. to the mix you tell two friends, and they tell two friends and so on… You get the idea.
Back to the Senate. Republicans are very unhappy about the prospect of a filibuster proof bill. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), who accepted and the declined an invitation to join the Obama cabinet, said that this would be the equivalent to “violence against the Republicans.” Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Kit Bond (R-MO) and John Kyl (R-AZ) have all said things that are similar. The irony here is that while they think this would violate the rules of the Senate now, they were all for it when they needed to pass George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Gregg even supported it when GW wanted it to be used to open ANWR because he thought it was his ‘patriotic duty’ to support the president.
Honestly I am not a big fan of ‘they did it, so we can’ but this is too important an issue for too many people to let it get stalled by partisan bickering. Nothing the GOP has done so far indicates they are being honest when they say they want to work with President Obama. Proof: despite the concessions made to appease their worries about the Obama budget, it was passed with zero Republican support. If their goal is to be the ‘party of no’ and to obstruct everything, they should be pushed aside. They didn’t elect President Obama. Moreover they had almost eight years of total power and their policies are a big part of why we are here today.
If you agree that health care reform is too important to put off call your Senators – 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121.