BOB SCHIEFFER: Just quickly. Robert Gibbs said next Sunday we’ll all be sitting here talking about how health care reform passed.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER: I hope he’s wrong. - "Face the Nation", March 14, 2010
Along with Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander has since late last year proven to be one of the biggest Republican obstructions to health care reform. And, as with certain Republicans, they sound reasonable when they become concern trolls.
On CBS's Faze the Nation last Sunday, Bob Schieffer asked, "Senator, you have said, I believe, that it would be catastrophic for the Democrats if this legislation passes. From just the standpoint of straight politics, why wouldn’t it be a good idea for Republicans to let it pass?" Alexander the Great responded that if the Democrats "rammed" a health care reform bill through Congress, it'll be "political kamikaze" for them.
OK, first off, let's cut him and Schieffer off at the knees right at the starting line because this is not, nor has ever been nor should ever be a political issue. Health care and reform that actually works is a human rights issue. This is not a particularly insightful or brilliant or original observation. Every progressive worth their weight in back issues of The Nation knows that health care reform is a human rights issue. The very wealth, educational level and amount of resources of our industrialized nation only makes affordable, quality, universal health care an even bigger imperative and inalienable right.
Yet Republicans ask, Is adequate health care a right or a privilege that should be rationed out only to those who can afford to continue bloating an already bloated health care racket? Republicans will tell you it's a privilege, not a right. If you're poor, that's your fault. No one has the right to access to affordable, quality health care. The problem is, even those who have "earned" the privilege of health care are getting tossed out into the streets because of pre-conditional rescissions or are forced to drop their coverage when their premiums are brazenly jacked up by as much as 50% or more even in the midst of this legislation that seeks to curb upwardly spiraling costs
This is our first mistake, letting the GOP frame the terms of the debate on this and so many other things. And they've grabbed hold of this debate so firmly that we don't even know that people like Alexander and Lindsey Graham are using racist language to describe Japanese culture in stereotypical terms when Graham says that "Nancy Pelosi, I think, has got them all liquored up on sake and you know, they're making a suicide run here."
To any reasonable person listening to these bought-and-sold racists, we should have long since resurrected the spirit behind places like Manzanar and to sequester these "sink or swim" psychopaths to the political internment they deserve.
And, gee, it's so touching that they're so concerned about our political survival since one party rule was never in their plans. But I have to decline their plea for slowing things down to a smoking, screeching halt.
For one thing, not passing a health care reform bill would be suicidal to the Democrats. This is precisely the rationale behind the President calling for a swift up and down vote in Congress. He and the Democrats know that if they don't pass something, anything, no matter how Godawful it will surely be, they will pay and pay dearly like it's 1994 all over again (the year President Clinton tried to pass his own horrible health care reform).
And the Republicans know this. They're all too well aware, even as they ask for those thousands of hours of work to be scrapped and to start over, that the President and the Democratic Congress have seemed to stake all their political capital on this one issue (they haven't, really, but the GOP, We the People and the MSM partly represented by Bob Schieffer have made it so).
The Republicans have a reputation among progressives and liberals for being completely out of touch with the voice and the will of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth and their stall tactics and asking Democrats to join them in their obstructionism in chucking the whole 2700 page bill in the dumpster behind the Capitol Building is proof of this.
Because they know, #1, that we're looking to the Democrats, who have an undeserved reputation of late for being the progressive party, for some kind of health care reform. No one, on the other hand, is expecting anything out of the GOP, either out of cynicism of the GOP's so-called humanitarian intentions or because they're depending on them to be the same bought-and-sold graft-meisters they've always been.
#2, the GOP is not out of touch with what the people need and want. They know all too well what that is. They just don't give a shit. As far as the HCR debate goes, it's just so many days at the office for the GOP. For Democrats, it's make or break, despite the fact that HCR is just the largest issue currently facing us as a nation. It's the cornerstone to our economic recovery and touches on so many other different major issues of which health care reform is but one.
The Republican Party crunches poll numbers just as assiduously as the Democrats and they've come to the same exact conclusions as the Democrats: To not pass something before the midterms this November would, not could, but would be catastrophic for the Democrats simply because they're the party carrying the expectations of a nation. The Republicans know if nothing is passed, it will not necessarily cripple them any more than they already are.
Yet, despite the fact they have little to offer in the way of their own plan, despite them calling time and again for the entire bill to be scrapped, despite them being a minority party better known for obstructionism for its own sake, despite their opposition being rooted in racism, mean-spiritedness and rigid Cold War-era dogma, despite them getting their talking points from Sarah Palin's Facebook page and Twitter tweets, we and the press are still letting them hijack this debate.
It's all about the midterms. It's all political. This is the driving force behind the President suddenly getting engaged in the HCR debate and calling for a Bushian "swift up and down vote". You can almost hear Obama say, "before November" when he does.
And that's not what the Republicans want because our expectations have been so lowered and beaten down from the start that we'll be grateful for anything the legislative and executive branches and their erstwhile employers in the health care field give us.