Thursday, July 30, 2009

Republicans May Jump the Shark

Good Morning Bloggers! It's been a roller-coaster of a week trying to ride the ups and downs related to the health care debate in Washington and across the country right now. To be really honest, the reason it took me so long to post this week was due to extreme conflict within my own mind about how to react to events. I don't like to blog unless I feel well-informed and comfortable about an issue, and this one has pushed me to the limit.

First of all, I would like to say that I think the Republicans and a few bought-and-paid-for "conservative" Democrats are doing a great job lying about the health care debate. Like the president says, they are out there sewing fear hoping to terrorize the electorate. They are using every opportunity to skew the debate, distracting people from the real legislation.

It's sad to say that their tactics are working somewhat, since most of the national polls are showing a decline in support for the health care initiative overall, however, it's interesting to note that when the polls actually tell people what's in the primary legislation, the overwhelming majority of Americans favor it. It's also important to point out that most of the polls are misleading, manipulative and unworthy of reporting.

I don't wish to get into the nitty-gritty of the debate in this post seeing that I want to talk more about why we need to stay focused, but suffice it to say that after talking to a few Washington insiders this week I feel better about the delay and most of the legislation being debated in the House and Senate.

The House has some great bills, but the sticking point at the moment involves my own awesome Congressman Henry Waxman and the bill being debated within the Energy Commerce Committee, where we're being held hostage by a small group of Blue Dogs.

I called Waxman's office and they assured me the chairman supports a strong public option, and that his compromise with the Blue Dogs requiring rates to be set by "the secretary" is almost as good as rates being set by Medicare. I'm no expert, but it does concern me. A strong public option based on affordability is the only way to go in my opinion. Still, I believe in Waxman, and will continue to hope for the best.

The bill forged by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) led by Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) are very positive. Their work along with a few other Senate committees provide some kind of public option and clean-up most of what is wrong with the health care system in America. Hopefully the Senators will be able to find common ground during their August break.

We should be highly skeptical about the legislation coming out of Senate Finance led by Baucus (D-MT) and Grassley (R-IA) pushing for eliminating employee health benefits in favor of ineffective health cooperatives, but the good news from what I hear is they do not have the support of the majority of Democrats in the Senate.

I also hear they've earned a bit of a bad rep lately. The other Senators fully realize just how much health care industry money has been pumped into that committee, so much so that it's been embarrassing for many in the Senate. FYI, after working in the Senate I know how Senators keep an eye on their colleagues and donations - often looking for motive before a vote. They don't always like it when powerful committee leaders sellout to overzealous industry profiteers.

Donations from lobbyists work best when the amounts donated to each politician remain secret. When the process takes time and legal reporting leads to open accounting (past legislation thanks to Democrats), it can create conflicts between officials. There are signs it is beginning to happen in relation to the Senate Finance Committee, as some Washington insiders report many are tiring of Baucus and his industry friends. Still, Baucus is failing to create a bipartisan bill, which is fine with me since I don't believe it will be good for the American people in the end.

There is also the fact that most of the committee chairs and co-chairs receiving the bulk of the money represent less than 3% of all Americans - a fact that sticks-in-the-craw of many elected officials.

The other side of this debate is - of course - the Republican lies. They are bigger and better than ever. Again, despite the August delay, I'm hearing good news from my friends in Washington. There are signs the Republicans may have gone too far once again. They may have "jumped the shark" in their opposition to health care. Many are reporting that their latest lies - the elimination of Medicare, loss of personal health care choices, and forced living wills and early death - may be one step too far to say the least.

It doesn't matter if Hannity, Limbaugh and others repeat the lies ad nausea, as long as they can easily be disproved. In the end, the lies themselves can ruin the credibility of the opposition.

The polls show that when Americans learn about the primary legislation, they support it. The bulk of the legislation goes far enough to solve most of our health care problems. The special interest groups have been spending millions on ads and the polls haven't changed that much. Most important, the president and others are willing to sacrifice their valuable political capital (something most politicians won't do) to get a bill. If the legislators spend August learning about the options and informing their constituents, then we may just have a chance to change the system come Fall.

To me, the glass is half-full. To me, the signs are pointing in the right direction.

It's easy to get discouraged these days when it comes to Washington, politicians, corporate greed and especially all the Republican lies. It's harder to actually do the heavy lifting, oppose the "ends justify the means" crowd" and fight the good fight. That's what we need our politicians to do. We need them to stay focused, and to ignore the ignorant rants of the uninformed. We need them to follow the president's lead, stay strong, and pass real health care reform for the majority of Americans who support it.

Thursday's Political Rave - Michael

PS - As I always like to say, please use the contact information section on this website to contact your elected representatives and tell them WE THE PEOPLE support health care reform with a strong and effective public option - not coops. It's the only way to save us from the greed and corruption of today's Republican-supported health care debacle.

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