Thursday, December 17, 2009

Health reform: How many compromises is it going to take?

If anyone needs more evidence that this “checks and balances” parliamentary system is not working at this point, I don't know what they need to see.

This social reform debate is a disaster. It is excruciating watching this. Democrats have been open-minded, they have made compromises, they have given up the public option, they have now given up the extension of Medicare, but that's still not enough. We are facing a republican filibuster that has decided not to make any compromise. I wouldn't be surprised if some sketchy things are going on behind the scenes to give incentives to some strategic senators to spurn the bill or to spurn amendments that are put on the table in order to sabotage this project altogether. It certainly looks like this is what's going on. These senators are a shame. We elected them to represent the best interest of the people, not to get distracted about whether or not they are going to get re-elected during their entire mandate. In addition to the lack of integrity of some, we are in the presence of two major problems (and countless small ones):

Every senator is seizing this opportunity to make it their moment. Every senator (and there's 100 of them), is all of a sudden trying to push some issue or another. Some of them are legitimate. Some of them feel like it may be their only chance in their career to push an issue that they strongly believe in. Their heart is in the right place and the issue is a valid one (like Sanders). Every senator is trying to either steal the spotlight and/or bring a new amendment to the table. Everything is getting mixed. All of a sudden this becomes about abortion etc. One issue harms the other.

Why can't they just pass individual bills instead of sticking every single debate into a massive bill that should be simply aimed at ensuring access to health insurance to more people and stopping the abuse from private insurance companies? Most likely because the system is set up in such a way that it is a miracle if anything passes the finance committe and then the house. They all feel like it's never gonna happen again, like it's “now or never”. Well they shouldn't feel that way. They feel that way because the system is broken. Why is the system set up in such a way that senators feel like they have to push an issue at a time at the risk of jeopardizing the greater bill? This legislative process is not working.

Two of my co-workers have told me about their experience looking for health insurance while they weren't working. One of them got denied because he is asthmatic, the other one won't even asked because he “knows” he would get denied because of his weight. Every year, 40,000 people die because they don't have health insurance.

This terrible fiasco has nothing to do with Barack Obama. He is at the mercy of the senators at this point. This is some devastating evidence that this country is just too divided. We simply can't get along. We can't even meet in the middle. This is wasting time and taxpayers' money.

I have just written a message to Olympia Snowe to ask her why she is joining the Republican filibuster. To the Republicans that are using extremely low political tactics to ensure that this doesn't pass for a few months and waiting for the elections next year so they can take control again, I want to say that they don't belong in the senate. In fact, they don't belong in politics. Political leadership is about being a grown up, making compromises, knowing when it is appropriate to swallow your pride for the people and holding the stakes of what's best for the country higher than you own personal political agenda. I am ashamed of our “democracy” today.

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