Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Respecting Congress

Much is being made of Obama’s, “I didn’t campaign on the public option” of a day ago. Listen, people, if you can’t find something more substantive than that just go yell at the kids to get off of your lawn or something.

The “public option” was in his “health care reform” plan, but so was strong opposition to an individual mandate. Part of my support for him was that he opposed the individual mandate and Clinton supported it. I was wrong, well partly wrong; single payer would not require an individual mandate. We aren’t going that direction, though, and insurance coverage cannot work in a significantly better fashion without the individual mandate. Obama recognized that and changed his position. I can’t say I’m thrilled about that, but I’d probably be even less thrilled if he had not.

In any case, it’s not up to him. Congress writes and passes legislation and, ugly as it may be, that's it the way it is supposed to work. In the Bush Imperial Presidency we had an era where Congress abdicated its responsibility. I recall being astounded and angry at the beginning of the financial crisis when Congress, Nancy Pelosi in fact, said that it was waiting for the Administration to draft a bill and present it to Congress. It was standing by like some puppy waiting to know its master’s bidding.

I do believe that Obama has showed a lack of leadership to a degree, in that that he could have been more forthcoming about what he believed to be important in the legislation. But to me it is a more important factor that he has showed respect for the separation of powers and respect for Congress as a legislating body, and that his leadership has moved the Congress to act. I’m not altogether certain that Congress deserves the respect he has given it, of course, but it may merely be out of practice after eight years of a president which usurped its legislative function.

But this one is not doing so, and that’s not all bad.

This is “Obama’s health care bill” only to the extent that he provided the impetus for Congress to take action; no small thing, to be sure. A major thing, in fact. But it should carry one of those product liability labels when he signs it to the effect that “I am not responsible for the contents of this package.”

No comments:

Post a Comment