Sunday, April 12, 2009

The first showdown on healthcare

The shoe is on the proverbial other foot. President Obama is seeking healthcare reform - he is desirous to insure the some 50 million uninsured in this country. The task is daunting and certainly ambitious. It is also long overdue. We all remember when First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to accomplish same when her husband, Bill was President some years ago. Giant healthcare conglomerates hired lobbyists to effectively incapacitate her efforts. They won.

In this case, Obama and his amazing staffers have come up with a palatable version of healthcare reform - palatable to most that is, except Republicans. Evidently, they have forgotten all the nefarious legislation that they pushed through these past few years of having majority rule.

Here is an excerpt from a story that posted earlier in the NY Times: "If reconciliation is endorsed, the budget resolution will direct relevant committees to prepare health care legislation that can be merged into a single bill and then passed by a simple majority of those voting. That would make it easier to adopt such important measures as a tightly regulated insurance exchange for those without group coverage, a new public plan to compete with private plans, and mandates that employers contribute to the cost of covering their employees.

The reconciliation approach is not bulletproof. It is primarily designed to deal with spending and revenue issues that affect the deficit. Under current rules, senators can seek to remove any provisions deemed extraneous or “merely incidental” to such budgetary concerns. Nobody is quite sure how the Senate parliamentarian would rule on such items as tighter regulation of private insurers or creation of a new public plan or incentives to improve the coordination of care.

Republicans are also complaining that reconciliation limits the hours of debate and the opportunity for amendments. But Congress has already been wrestling with health care reform in multiple committees, so the need for more posturing in floor debate is not apparent. There are also dire warnings that resorting to reconciliation will poison the atmosphere for bipartisanship. That may well happen, but so far most Republicans have shown little appetite for cooperation on anything."

Here is the link:

We are in exciting times, challenging for sure, but exciting nonetheless. Republicans have at least 4 years to learn what it has been like for Democrats to have virtually no say in the running of the country.

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