Monday, March 8, 2010

It's Time to Vote on Health Care Reform


As our nation's lawmakers move ever closer to finally voting on a bill that would take health care reform from endless rhetoric to a welcome reality to nearly 30 million Americans - there are two views regarding the process that bring to high relief the ideological chasm that stands little chance of being bridged in the effort.

Whatever else 'reconciliation' means, it apparently doesn't mean reconciling points of view!

The first is by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne

"Obama's critics have regularly accused him of not being as tough or wily or forceful as LBJ was in pushing through civil rights and the social programs of his Great Society. Obama seemed willing to let Congress go its own way and was so anxious to look bipartisan that he wouldn't even take his own side in arguments with Republicans."

"Those days are over. On Wednesday, the president made clear what he wants in a health-care bill, and he urged Congress to pass it by the most expeditious means available."

"He was also clear on what bipartisanship should mean -- and what it can't mean. Democrats, who happen to be in the majority, have already added Republican ideas to their proposals. Obama said he was open to four more that came up during the health-care summit. What he's (rightly) unwilling to do is give the minority veto power over a bill that has deliberately and painfully worked its way through the regular legislative process."

The next is by Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch...

"To impose the will of some Democrats and to circumvent bipartisan opposition, President Obama seems to be encouraging Congress to use the "reconciliation" process, an arcane budget procedure, to ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill that raises taxes, increases costs and cuts Medicare to fund a new entitlement we can't afford. This is attractive to proponents because it sharply limits debate and amendments to a mere 20 hours and would allow passage with only 51 votes (as opposed to the 60 needed to overcome a procedural hurdle). But the Constitution intends the opposite process, especially for a bill that would affect one-sixth of the American economy."

"This use of reconciliation to jam through this legislation, against the will of the American people, would be unprecedented in scope. And the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balances, corrode the legislative process, degrade our system of government and damage the prospects of bipartisanship."

Both columns are worth reading. But here's the thing: It's time to vote on this...

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