March 3, 2010
The President once again has missed the point; his attempt at forcing Republican support in the health care summit was just that, forced. His attempt at sprinkling other, more popular reform approaches into his latest bill today had more to do with gaining Democrat votes than it did with implementing good, commonsense health care reform legislation (you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear). His recommendation to use reconciliation (as defined in his use of the words, up-and-down vote in his release) focused on the process, not on the things that were wrong with the bill. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same!
The flap over reconciliation, and super majorities, and simple majorities, and blue dogs, and cornhusker kickbacks, and the ongoing bickering between Democrats and Republicans isn't critical for older Americans. What is important to them is having quality health care choices, lowering health insurance premiums, making health insurance available to more Americans, improving and shoring up Medicare, and lowering the national debt. The current legislation proposed by the President accomplishes only one of those goals. It offers insurance to more Americans and pays for it by raising premiums, taxing those who already pay for insurance, by forcing our country deeper in debt, and, worst of all, cutting $500 billion out of Medicare. It's not the process that's wrong with the President's bill, it's the substance.
All we hear about in the media is who's playing partisan politics, how the Democrats are using reconciliation to ram this bill down our throats, and how many votes are on each side. Nobody is talking about what's in the bill, about the loss of choice and the cuts to Medicare. Most of the polls reveal what I've been hearing from older Americans for months; they don't support the legislation as it stands right now. The President and the Democrats need to understand that their battle over health care reform right now is not with the Republicans; it's with the American people. While we know that most Americans don't like the backroom deals, or the politics that have gone on, their main dislike continues to be the substance of the bill. Somehow that fact has gotten lost in all the rhetoric.
Patrick Henry said, "I know of no way to judge the future but by the past." I think our only way of judging where a Member of Congress stands is to watch how they vote. No excuse can be made for voting for bad legislation. Each vote should reflect each Member's values and those of their constituents, not be cast to support a particular party, special interest or a process like reconciliation. If House members vote for the Senate version of the health care reform bill that contains cuts to Medicare, special money for particular states, loss of choices, added taxes and more debt, they must be held accountable.
The President stated at the health care summit that elections should be the referendum on health care reform. Each vote that has been cast and each vote that will be cast should be used to judge each Member of Congress. We need to make it a referendum, we need to use the power of our vote to show Congress that it's not the process it's the substance we care very deeply about.