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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The GOP reaches Waterloo

I have a feeling we have seen the Waterloo of the Republican Party, a time when politicians put the potential for short-term electoral gain up against the greater good of the public.

The health care bill passed by the Senate this morning, like the House counterpart, is far from perfect. It accurately reflects Otto von Bismarck's comparison of legislating to sausage-making. The compromise that will eventually emerge from conference may be further flawed.

But for all the faults that have been highlighted through political gamesmanship and horse race-like reporting, there are some historic changes that will serve people well after Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn start collecting their government-paid pensions that include health care coverage.

The legislation will provide access to health care to millions more Americans, in part by ending the practice of allowing insurers to deny or cancel coverage for people who are sick and seek to use it. It is a giant, if imperfect first step.

What history will note is the complete absence of Republicans on the playing field. Spare me Olympia Snowe's lament about no opportunity to amend the bill, a statement that is laughable in the face of the efforts by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' summer-long courtship of the Maine Republican.

A look back through the years will show us that the issue of health care has never been high on the GOP's wish list -- certainly not in comparison to their desire to coddle the financial industry that brought us to our economic knees.

Where exactly, in the time the GOP controlled the White House, House and Senate during this decade, did they offer a solution to the high cost and spotty access to health care that has plagued us for years?

And please, no braying about budget-busting and deals cut with industry. What was Medicare Part D other than a giveaway to the pharmaceutical companies, one that created a gigantic hole in the budget and a huge doughnut hole for the people supposedly being helped.

Thanks to media coverage that has focused on the politics -- and the admitted ugliness of the legislative process -- Republicans believe they will benefit at the polls in 2010.

That's entirely possible. But it's also a reflection of putting political self-interest ahead of broader public interest and why, in the end, the GOP will be seen as far more morally bankrupt than whatever strains are put on the federal treasury.

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have a lot of hard work ahead. My only question: can Reid pull off the same magic for our beloved if occasionally hapless Cleveland Indians?

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1 Comments:

Blogger massmarrier said...

Much laughter here. I've been seeing the GOP spin - bankrupting America and so forth. Plus, I heard Republican types on radio shows saying boy, oh, boy, the Dems will get an earful from angry voters over the holidays. I'm with you in contending that now and more as it settles, the 40 GOP Senators who voted against reform will pay mid- and long-term, and the same in the House. They have far overreached on this one. I'll plug my blog's take on it in line with yours.

December 24, 2009 3:39 PM  

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