Monday, February 1, 2010

The Failing Health Care Reform Bill I - Who is to blame?

Obama and his party have a debacle on their hands.. They have fiddled with health care reform for an entire year, while more important issues remained unresolved. The Democrats have managed their razor thin majority in the Senate with the sophistication and finesse of a mafia hit man. Now that they have been caught making all the wrong choices, it is time to look for scapegoats.

The media has tended to look for parallels with the first years of the Reagan and Clinton. Both presidents escaped largely unharmed from their early failures. I believe that the Jimmy Carter years may be more apt. Carter had a strong mandate with a convincing victory over Gerald Ford and control of both houses. It appeared that the way was clear for the Democratic juggernaut to restore the New Deal. In fact they squabbled so much that very little was accomplished. The economy went south, and Carter ended up with a one term presidency.

The stunning defeat in Massachusetts now leaves the Democrats in limbo with a few choices that are all distasteful to them.

Abandoning the health care effort will make them look like the gang that cannot shoot straight.

Starting over again, as the Republicans smugly suggest, would take at least another six months. Neither the Congress, which is facing an uncomfortable election, nor the country will tolerate more of the endless bickering and stalemate.

The only viable choice would be for the House of Representative to adopt what the Senate already passed without changes. In that case, they would avoid the necessity of coming back to the Senate where the Republicans are armed with their forty first vote. The problem is that the Senate bill includes terms that the left wing Democrats deem to be abominable, such as restrictions on funding abortions and taxing the so-called Cadillac plans which are largely established through union collective bargaining agreements.

How did they get into the mess? I have three major suggestions, which will be discussed separately over the next three days. I hope you will join me.

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