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Democrats mess up up health care reform
In a key, closely observed U.S. Senate race recently, Massachusetts voters chose Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley. People say the balance of power is shifting in Washington. If so, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
There’s been a lot of debate on whether the GOP victory was a referendum on health care reform, or on the economy. Probably it was something of both, though it is a little hard to understand voters choosing a Republican based on the economic question. Our economy went to hell under a Republican administration, and is showing some signs of recovery under a Democratic one.
Health care reform, championed by Democrats, looks more like the culprit. Democrats started a fight over an issue that requires radical solutions, and finally they lacked the courage of their convictions. The public smells it, and is looking now to the lesser of two evils.
Making a mess of health care reform has been a bipartisan effort, but Democrats have to take the heat. Even among themselves, they couldn’t agree.
Let’s face it. When talk about health care reform turned serious, Americans thought reform meant reining in insurance companies, pharmaceutical conglomerates and health care providers, either through outright regulation, through stiff, public-sector competition, or both.
Those industries provide critical services on a par with national security or public safety, and for untold decades they have been putting any price on them they want. Long ago, the situation turned obscene. This is what Americans wanted stopped. This is what health care reform should have been about.
But as we know, the debate in Washington got complicated. Special interests took charge. Bickering and lobbying forever muddied the waters. What emerged in this latest Democratic attempt at reform is proposed trillion-dollar legislation whose crowning achievement is a requirement that we all buy health insurance.
At the same time, there’s no real guarantee that the cost of health insurance, or health care in general, will come appreciably down, or remain in the “affordable” range if it does come down.
Who’s the winner here? Certainly not people forced to buy a product they couldn’t afford in the first place. Certainly not people who will be pursued and persecuted by the IRS if they fail to comply.
Someone’s got to be the lesser of two evils, and, if the Massachusetts race is an indicator, it is the Republicans’ turn now. When they do regain their power in Congress — and we believe it is a question of when, not if — they likely won’t do any better at health care reform than the Democrats, assuming they even try.
Still, health care reform as defined by Democrats looks downright sinister. It deserves the looming filibuster. Maybe it even deserves to die. Real health care reform doesn’t mean taxing people to death and enslaving them to insurance companies. It means leaders taking bold steps to stop the ongoing economic abuse of the health care consumer.
Where, oh where, are those leaders?