Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Passing "Health Care Reform"

Interesting segment on Hardball yesterday, which featured a clip of Arlen Specter emerging from Air Force One with President Obama. Obama is in Pennsylvania campaigning to help a Republican win in the Democratic primary against a Democrat, Joe Sestak, which is part of the dealmaking that Obama has made to get his “health care reform” passed. Sestak was a guest on Hardball.

Matthews: What do you make of the Democratic Party right now having a problem, where people on the left are giving the president a hard time, people on the right are giving him a hard time? Is he having a problem getting people to realize that if you lose this health care bill, everybody‘s going to be branded as a loser? Is he going to get that message across in the next two weeks?

Sestak: Chris, I don‘t think that‘s the right message he should get across. This isn‘t about scoring a political victory. These Democrats, me, we were sent to Washington with an opportunity to lead, not with a mandate. And it got off track because Ben Nelson grabbed a goody bar. They thought with the 60th vote from Arlen Specter that political calculation would achieve the health care bill. It got us nowhere. No, what the president‘s message has to be is, This is the right thing to do, Democrats. Stand up and work for working families. And that message better come through, not about politics.

That was remarkable, considering how badly this president is screwing Sestak, and throughout the interview the man comes across as a thoughtful and gentlemanly person. He is, of course, a retired career Navy officer in the tradition of John Paul Jones.

“It is by no means enough that a naval officer be capable. He should be a gentleman of liberal education, refined manners, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor.”

Throughout the segment Matthews and his guests present the scenario that if “health care reform” (and I will never use that term without quotes) passes the Democrats will smell like roses and if it fails they will be labeled as losers. While I favor its passage, I see the Democratic Party and President Obama as smelling rather odious regardless.

Obama is on board with a message of “this is the right thing to do” now, but for more than a year he has been backstage making deals, and some of those deals have smelled like dead fish. The first deal was with Arlen Specter, and he is paying off on that one now; campaigning in a Democratic primary election for a Republican. Other deals smell even worse; with pharma to prevent reimportation of drugs and with the hospital industry to protect their profit margins.

A solid year of dirty deal-making followed by a pious “this is the right thing to do” does not smell like roses to me even if the bill passes. The good that it does may outweigh all of the dirt that was dealt doing it, but it does not wash the dirty hands that were soiled in the process.

The promise is made now to pass a “rider bill to undo the dealmaking” and clean up the bill. My first objection is that it would have been better to have not done the dealmaking to begin with; the end does not justify dirty means.

In any case, it cannot be done when the whole damned bill consists of nothing but deals; undo all of the deals and the bill vanishes. Even the number of those it will insure is a “deal.” There are more than 40 million uninsured, and the bill will insure 30 million of them through a deal that was made to arrive at that number. I wonder how the millions of people who will be left uninsured feel about that deal.

It should be pointed out that the bill does not "insure 30 million people." It gives those people the chance to buy insurance with money that they do not have because they have no jobs and their unemployment has run out.

Pass the damned dirty bill, but don’t expect applause from me.

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