Friday, August 7, 2009

Doubling Down on Stupid

Over the past few months, congressional Republicans have made it pretty clear that they won't support any real reform to the Health Care System. And regardless of their feelings on any specific bill, they've made it fairly obvious that it's more important to hurt Obama and the Democrats than it is to negotiate in good faith.

The Democrats have a large majority in the House, sixty votes in the Senate, so the Republicans are completely irrelevant, and there is absolutely no reason to deal with them for any reason. Maybe I should have started with that point.

So with the experiences of the last 7 months on their minds, I was rather stunned to read this report from Obama's meeting with the Democratic Senators:

Despite confronting near absolute opposition from the Republican side of the aisle on health care, President Obama and Senate Democrats stressed during a lunch on Tuesday that reform still needed to be done in a bipartisan fashion, a White House aide said.

With nearly the entire Senate Democratic Caucus at the White House for lunch, the president spoke for ten to fifteen minutes on insurance reform. He also insisted, according to an administration aide, that he remained committed to working with the Republican Party to get reform passed.

"I think there was just really a sense about the importance of making progress and getting a bill done," the aide, who was in attendance, said. "And that they are committed to working with Republicans to do it. The president believes that that is important."

It's as if they haven't learned a thing. Unbelievable.

And then there's this:

Aides said there was little talk of co-ops or public options at Tuesday's lunch. The entire meeting lasted about an hour, with all Senate Democrats in attendance -- except for Ted Kennedy (Mass.) and Robert Byrd (W.V.), both suffering from poor health. According to the aide, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke first, for roughly five minutes. After Obama addressed the crowd, a lengthy question and answer session followed. Finishing up the meal with a bit of chocolate cake, Obama offered words of advice for how to handle the upcoming August recess.

"The president urged them to, as they were holding town hall meetings, to make the case pretty clearly about why this is important, why it is important to our economy, why it is important to our fiscal situation as a country and how it would benefit Americans," said the aide. "Both those Americans who are looking for health care and those who have it but would like to see lower costs."

I have another question: Why is this important?

Let me be clear, I'm not asking why actual health care reform is important, I'm asking why whatever "health care reform" mentioned in the paragraph above is important. Unless Barack starts speaking in anything other than vague benchmarks that could be used to describe virtually any bill, he's essentially giving a green light for the Douche Caucus to keep making the bill worse.

There's a serious problem when Max Baucus and Sherrod Brown can go back home and each explain why we need to pass two VERY DIFFERENT visions of what health care reform might look like. Sherrod Brown can explain why we need a strong public option to control costs and keep insurance companies honest while Max Baucus can talk about why we need to "reform" the system in a way that makes the insurance companies richer and more powerful than they ever were before. There can be no compromise between these two visions of health care reform, and that needs to be acknowledged.

Obama needs to realize at the end of the day the American people really don't care if the health care bill is Bipartisan or acceptable to all the parties he's brought to the table.

They care about if it works and if it improves the system.

And depending on whose description of "health care reform" you listen to, the question of whether or not this final product will improve the system remains very much unanswered.

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