Thursday, March 25, 2010
a remedy in hand is worth two in the bush
If ticket sales are down on Broadway the economy alone may not be to blame. The political landscape of this nation provides nearly all the theater that I need. So much so that sometimes I have a difficult time keeping abreast of the leading players and the key elements being presented. But I feel a sense of comfort knowing that the triggering event behind Tuesday’s signing of health care reform by President Obama was one of my perennial favorites. Once again, irony has ruled the day.
On January 19th, Scott Brown, the Republican challenger, defeated Martha Coakley, the Democratic hopeful, and won the privilege to represent ‘The People’ of Massachusetts in the United States Senate seat long held by a legendary Democratic Party icon, the late Ted Kennedy. It was a resoundingly jubilant moment for the whole GOP, and the far right party members were especially inebriated by the victory. The Democrats came off looking sloppy and careless.
All that in the past, on February 24th, I presented a post and my hopes that a sensible agreement on health care reform may somehow follow President Obama’s summit meeting at Blair House on February 25th. But I, like many others, considered the chances of success to be extremely remote.
The gridlock seemed insurmountable, the right wing radical rhetoric and ploys demanding to laughably restart this arduous process from a clean slate bombarded the airwaves. But like a great quarterback reading an overconfident defense, President Obama began to calmly call his plays and moved the ball down field. By the time the Republican Party sobered up, the House Democrats were standing on the 1 yard line, ready to hold an up or down vote on the health care bill that had already passed the Senate back on Christmas eve. This past Sunday, the Democrats walked it in for a touchdown. The Senate filibuster threat, resurrected along with Scott Brown’s victory, by cutting down the Democrat’s size from the crucial 60 to 59 seats was side stepped. And the Grand Old Party, not yet done celebrating their victory in Massachusetts, had their turn looking slipshod as they relearned the old lesson to ‘be careful what you wish for because it might come true.’ They are now treating their hangovers-thank God for health care.
Even though I loved the drama and triumph I don’t want to get overly excited about this reform myself, as some elements are still left unknown. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over the next ten years the anticipated costs to the government will round out to about $938 billion dollars. But increased revenues and cost cutting are expected to reduce the Federal deficit by about $130 billion over the same decade. However, much remains to be seen on the ultimate accuracy of this guess.
I think a more positive sign is that Wall Street doesn’t seem to be bothered by the signing of this reform. Evidently, the prospect that 32 million new customers will be coming through the doors of the system has its merits. The markets also like certainty. Passage of reform provides assurances that now that we know what the rules are we can play the game. Capitalism is intact and to think otherwise is irrational.
Besides all that, our dysfunctional system of skyrocketing renewal premiums, many millions without coverage, benefit limits, pre-existing condition traps and job loss gaps had already landed us on the rocks. The status quo was not an option. But to do nothing has been the Republican Party’s whole strategy. I think their thought process is that if they do nothing then they can’t be blamed for anything. Subsequently, they hope to win back seats and perhaps capture the majority in Congress during the mid-term elections this November. I would advise caution though on this tactic as well. The daily dose of baseless rhetoric needed to sustain that degree of immobility may be hazardous to their political health.
Spilling over from these events we have sadly seen the news clips depicting the incidents of spitting, taunting and bigotry directed at Democrats leading up to the vote. And now we learn of ten or more lawless and ignorant acts that followed the vote. I would need an entirely separate post to explain my views on this matter so I will avoid a lengthy recap. Both sides need to continually condemn and refrain from this repugnant behavior.
The Obama Administration scored a big victory, and I think the American people will be better off for it in the long run. But Obama would be wise not to savor it for long. There will be plenty of time for reading about it in history books. My advice would be to take the field again and try scoring some points for jobs. More likely than not, the people who have the security of jobs and health benefits will want to maintain that status quo.
© 2010 Christopher’s Views