Thursday, June 18, 2009

Health care reform is a key confrontation

Here are five articles focusing on various aspects of the issue of how President Obama's seemingly sincere desire to build cooperative bipartisan majorities in Congress on controversial issues may wind up sacrificing his chance to be a genuinely "transformative" President, as the journalists and political scientists like to call it:

The FundamentaList (No. 85) by Sarah Posner 06/17/09

Sickly talk about fixing healthcare by Gene Lyons Salon 06/18/09

Overwhelming majority oppose preventive detention without charges 06/18/09

But I Thought Tom Daschle Was So Crucial To Real Health Care Reform by dday

Rationing our Compreshension! by Bob "The Daily Howler" Somerby 06/18/09

Obama's health care proposal is a common thread to all of these, though Sarah's and Glenn's pieces focus on other issues. From where we sit now, getting a health care plan passed is the key to whether Obama's Presidency will be a transformative or a caretaker administration. Preserving the positive aspects of our public programs, like Medicare and Social Security, are huge things, particularly since our Predator State Republicans are determined to do away with most of them if they get the chance. But passing an effective health care reform, with the public option that has become the key issue for the moment, would re-establish a strong awareness among a majority of voters that government can do positive, necessary things that benefit ordinary people. And it would also demonstrate to people that the Democratic Party fights for those things, and the Republican Party fights tooth and nail against them. That would make Obama's Presidency transformative, even if his own Presidency winds up being undone by the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Conversely, if the Democrats fail to pass effective national health insurance with a popular Democratic President with strong majorities in both the House and the Senate, it's hard to see how that is not going to produce the kind of voter cynicism on which the Republican Party counts to get their candidates elected. And it will be justifiable cynicism, I'm afraid. After all, the More Important Issues like health care reform have been the administration's excuse to not legally proceed against the torture perpetrators so far.

There are no excuses for not passing health care reform. As Gene Lyons puts it, "Happy talk aside, if winning this epochal battle takes a 50-49 vote with no Republicans among the majority, then that's what it takes. Above all, Obama shouldn't negotiate with himself."

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