Monday, December 21, 2009

Senate health bill: Why did they bother?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 1:48 PM

David Axelrod, one of Pres. Obama's leading advisers,  went on Meet The Press yesterday and defended the administration against accusations by progressives that health care reform has been watered down beyond recognition through compromises.  The criticism from liberals has been intense, particularly after the White House "compromised" with (caved in to) Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Aetna) and Ben Nelson (a former insurance executive and insurance company lawyer). The final Senate version of the bill now contains no public option or expansion of Medicare. Axelrod "explained," as if we're all clueless, that no major law in U.S. history has been passed without compromise.

Well, no shit, Sherlock. The issue isn't whether there are compromises, it's how much compromise is acceptable before the original intent of the bill is gutted. Yes, history shows that major bills are by necessity compromised, but there's also a history of Presidents with big majorities refusing to bend too far. Take the epochal Civil Rights Act of 1964, for instance. Lots of compromises there: the final bill watered down sections that would have protected African-Americans' voting rights and guaranteed equal employment opportunities, but that was as far as Kennedy and Johnson would go. The historic bill passed, and the deleted sections were later passed as separate laws, courtesy of Johnson's large majorities in both houses of Congress.

Today, we have an administration that has kowtowed to  the interests of the drug and insurance industries — not to mention anti-abortion advocates — and  have wound up with a Senate bill that makes you wonder why they even bothered. If the Senate version that Axelrod was defending becomes law (thank God the House still has a lot to say about that), Americans will be saddled with a law that mandates that everyone buy health insurance, but allows insurers to charge whatever they want. As a friend e-mailed, "The alternative is that you pay $750 and get absolutely nothing. Do these clowns really think they are getting re-elected based on this crap?" Amen, brother.

Sen. Ben Nelson with his toupee and fellow Senator Joe Lieberman. Courtesy of FACE THE NATION, KARIN COOPER
  • Sen. Ben Nelson with his toupee and fellow Senator Joe Lieberman. Courtesy of FACE THE NATION, KARIN COOPER

Deliver Us From Weasels, a collection of articles and columns by John Grooms, is available at Borders-Morrocroft, Park Road Books, Paper Skyscraper, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, and Literary Bookpost in Salisbury, or directly from the publisher at

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