Thursday, December 17, 2009

Am I a Bad Democrat?

Why, of course I was paying attention in AP Government today!  Whyever would you think I wasn't? :)  Anyway . . .

Is it bad for Reid that he has the "magic number" of 60 in his caucus?  Did it get his hopes up too high?  With 60, he might've thought that he could get a very liberal bill though without needing to compromise with the Republicans and that the more conservative Democrats and independents would fall in line just because of party loyalty.  In any case, when all is said and done, it would look very bad for Reid if the vote fell completely along party lines.  That would very quickly become the favored punching-bag for the Rush Limbaughs of the Republican party, who would immediately jump on Reid/Obama/Democrats in general for "forcing the bill through Congress", etc.

Anyway, going back to what was my main point.  I've been cheering for the negotiations going on in the Senate lately, especially surrounding what I see as the "big four": Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Ben Nelson, and Joe Lieberman, whose yay or nay votes are going to be absolutely critical when the bill in its complete form is debated on the floor.  Ultimately, I think we're going to have a better/more widely accepted healthcare bill because of it.

Obviously, I'm not happy with all the compromises.  There are places where I think we Democrats have bargained away too much, a la the public option being completely axed.  Honestly, I think private insurers have had their day, and squandered much of their goodwill on ineffective plans, discrimination against women, and obscenely high premiums in the name of profit.  But that's a topic for another day.  On the other hand, if Joe Lieberman wasn't willing to stand up and risk the anger of his Democratic colleagues and denounce the Medicare expansion, we'd have people ages 55 to 64 buying into Medicare while cutting the already underfunded program even more.

I suppose that's where I break away from the really liberal Democrats.  Well, that, and I support the trigger option.  I think a nonprofit corporation handling insurance with a "trigger" option for a plan with more government is a good idea.  Why?  Simple.  It comes from the center.  And . . . it has a really good chance of passing the Senate.  More than a straight-up public plan would.  It's a decent compromise which promises both bipartisan support (even if the only Republicans to support it are Snowe and Collins, it gives the bill more legitimacy) and improved healthcare (which is the most important thing, really).

But at the same time, I think that the liberal Democrats in the Senate have no excuse for not supporting the bill.  It's not going to be the best thing to come out of Congress, and it's not going to make everyone happy, but it's progress.  Howard Dean, the former DNC chairman, has said that the Senate should kill the bill and go back to the drawing board.  With all due respect to Mr. Dean, that is very five-year-old of him.  Opportunities like this for total overhaul only come around . . . well, much less frequently than Mr. Dean seems to think.  It was a fight to get the different committee bills written, it was a fight to get the bills reconciled, it was a fight to agree to debate the bill, the amendments are fights . . . and on and on.  The only things that will be accomplished by sending the bill back to the drawing board/refusing to pass the bill is we'll have wasted months of work, millions of Americans will still have little or no healthcare, and maybe there'll be even less chance of a bill getting passed.

So, at the end of the day, am I a bad Democrat?  No, I don't think so.  I've just got common sense, an eye for what direction the Senate's leaning on different issues, and a head full of Economics knowledge from last semester's econ class :)

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