Health Care bill: Mend it, don’t end it.

Well, it looks like Scott Brown did win the special Senate election in Massachusetts after all! And with that, has come the chorus of spinmeisters who are saying, “this means Congress should drop the health care reform bills!” The other words you see a lot are “scale back”. Scale back something that has been getting scaled back and set off course by special interests all throughout both last year and this new year.

Overwhelmingly, people are saying this is a wake-up call to the Democratic Party in Washington, as well as to President Obama as the de facto head of it. People are saying the major issue of 2010 (as in 2009) is “jobs and the economy”. And the health-care initiative has been twisted (thanks to parliamentary tactics by the Republican Party) into a diversion from that main issue.

I agree that jobs are a priority. But it used to be that the United States Congress was something that could walk and chew gum at the same time. This “slow it down” chorus is a shot from the shadows, a tactic. And it’s been going on since January 20 of Oh-Nine — over one year now.

It’s aimed at President Obama, and it’s aimed to undermine President Obama. I read one commentator say “the honeymoon has ended!” But frankly I ask, when was the honeymoon?

In November 2008, then-President-elect Obama was thrust into the whole financial crisis workout from the day after he was elected. Getting in office, the first big spending bill that came up under his watch was the stimulus (“the Stim”), which maybe a majority of the country got confused with the “TARP”, which was a Bush Administration endeavor. (I think the very first actual bill was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.)

The Republicans politicized the Stim from the get go. Then basically said “no” to everything else except Sonia Sotomayor.

Somehow the Senate’s filibuster rule has gained almost religious sacrosanctity. A good part of last year, the Democratic Caucus didn’t even have the 60 vote strength (Specter switched, and I remember there being a long delay in seating Senator Al Franken.) And it’s pretty much been “no no no” all the way with the GOP regardless of the 60. It will be interesting if Scott Brown has any more robust a vocabulary.

Like the minions of political arm-chair strategists, I would like to see our Congress work some miracles to get us out of the hole caused when the economy cratered under Bush. But practically, I have to laugh that anyone of an independent streak thinks that the way the Republicans have been playing the game since Barack Obama got in is virtuous!

I am no Left Winger by any means, but a moderate. I guess a moderate from how it was defined in the 1970’s, when both parties still had them. The hallmarks of moderation seem to be:

1) You do things with integrity.
2) You listen to the credible ideas out there.
3) You get the job done.

Before the ideological Culture Wars started in earnest, this is what you expected out of your Congressman (a few women like Millicent Fenwick, too!). And as the rule rather than the exception, this is what you got!

Scott Brown is trying to style himself as that. It remains to be seen.

The Senators should go down the list on their passed bill and see which provisions have the 80 or so votes that everyone seems to think will make a “bipartisan” bill. Like I say, “mend it, don’t it” (remember that line from the affirmation action debate?)

I have a feeling, line-by-line, it would still be something like 59-41. Telling me that Scott Brown should enjoy the view from this high horse while he still can . . .

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