Share Tweet

Obama: When It Comes to Health Reform, It's Time to Fish or Cut Bait

August 18, 2009

While many frightened conservatives think we elected a wild eyed liberal in President Obama, he is, in my view, not an actual liberal and more of a pragmatic progressive. Obama is also human, and so he fumbles from time to time. Who doesn’t.  I am very disappointed by the way this health care reform has been fumbled. We elected a Democrat as President, we elected a majority of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, we actually have a theoretical 60 vote majority in the Senate, and yet the Democrats cannot seem to pass a bill that reflects the political positions of the Democratic Party. 

Liberal Americans have for 50 years advocated for a single payer national health care plan. Now that Democrats hold the White House, and the House and the Senate, but what they don’t have is a Democratic Spine and a Democratic commitment to the principals that make them Democrats. 

With out a single debate, without firing a shot, the Democrats have conceded the battle over National Health care, never pushing single payer National Health care, period. Instead of supporting National Health Care, our elected majority party proposed something far less than what most progressive Democrats wanted – a Public Option. 
 
When compared with single payer National Health care, a Public Option is a much weaker way of providing health care for the uninsurable, but at least it was something.  Now the elected majority party seems more than willing to concede again on the Public Option and various Democrats have floated out trial balloons on something called health insurance co-opts. People very high in the Obama administration, including the President himself, have hinted that the Public Option is not a deal breaker, that it could be negotiated away and perhaps co-opts would be a possible option to replace the Public Option.
 
What are co-opts? They are private run, not government run insurance companies run by the policy holders. If you had co-op insurance you would have the right to elect the board, the CEO and you could actually run for a position and be on the board of your own co-op insurance company.
 
The co-op notion is doing exactly what it was designed to do: further water down the health reform soup. What could have been health reform stew is fast becoming some sort of clear health reform bouillon broth. 
 
Now the progressive Democrats are pushing back (a little) sending a letter that says, in part:
 
“To take the public option off the table would be a grave error.  Passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it.”
 
The Democratic lawmakers also attached a July 30 letter from 60 party members to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that said any legislation that failed to contain a government plan would be  “unacceptable.”
 
There is a worn out cliché that goes like this, Are you going to fish, or cut bait. This fish or cut bait phrase was first recorded in the Congressional Record (1876), when Congressman Joseph P. Cannon called for a vote on a bill legalizing the silver dollar:
 
"I want you gentlemen on the other side of the House to 'fish or cut bait.'"
 
A vulgar synonym from the 1940s is shit or get off the pot. Both cliché are accusing the target of  being unwilling, unable, or too fearful to do anything other than pretend they might do something but all they will actually do is waste time, and allow delay after delay after delay. 
 
Republican leadership has made it clear that there is nothing they will support if it is run by the government, or if it might eventually be run by the government at some date far into the future. 
 
  • National Health Insurance is branded by Republicans as socialism.
  •  
  • A Public Option is branded by Republicans as socialism.
  •  
  • Now Co-ops (that would be private membership-run insurance is branded by Republicans as socialism.
If there is no health reform that will ever be supported by Republicans then why is the Obama administration making concession after concession to a group that will never ever vote for him, or support any legislation on health care reform?
 
There is an aggravating ad on a spot remover product by Tide. The commercial has some guy with a spot on his shirt and he is talking to some hiring officer, but the spot has a mouth and makes yammering noises. The spot is so distracting that the hiring official never hears a single thing being said by the job applicant. This is precisely the Republican Party method for negotiating on health care reform. Democrats talk and Republicans make so much distracting noise that no one can hear anything that is said.
 
There are NO DEATH PANELS. But Obama doesn’t call the lie spreaders what they are: liars. Obama is just being too nice, too polite. President Obama needs a little dab of “give ‘em hell” Harry Truman in him.   Obama and his people need to tell the liars to stop lying.
609 - 7 - 0 - US