Health Care Summit: Politics as Usual

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H-Care-Summit.jpgThe Health Care Summit with Pres. Obama and select Congressional individuals of the Donkey and Elephant persuasion, was obviously well prepared for by both sides. Each had their scripts well crafted, and lines rehearsed like veteran Shakespearian actors. It was as predicted, political theater at its worst.

Democrat's strategy was abundantly evident by their members repeatedly asserting their well rehearsed phrases, "we are not that far apart", "we are very close together", and "there is not that much that prevents us from moving forward". The strategy was to paint the Republicans as those who would not take that last step to give the American people health care reform. It may prove to have been a successful strategy for those who watched and listened, as the Republican's strategy and telltale lines will demonstrate.

With pure repetitive precision, Republicans at the Summit recited their lines verbatim and repeatedly: "Let's start over", "start over with a clean sheet", and "let's start over and take this step by step". The Republican position was absolutely clear. Nothing Democrats had put together could remain. If Democrats wanted Republican support, they would first have to abandon all they had crafted, and begin the 11 month process all over again with Republicans having equal authorship in the bill's crafting.

Essentially, both sides agreed on the objectives. But, when it came to the methods by which those objectives could be achieved, the Earth opened into a wide chasm. Fundamentally, Democrats and Republicans don't agree on one central issue. Democrats believe every American in need of medical treatment has a right to receive that treatment, as a matter of humanity and citizenship. Republicans take the position that health care is not a right, and the poorest and unemployed should not receive needed health care at the expense of their tax dollars.

The Democrat's proposals would insure 30 million Americans currently without insurance, and the rest down the road. Democrats would require all Americans to carry health care insurance or, pay a penalty. The penalty would offset the cost of insuring everyone else and avoid deficit spending.

The Republican's proposals would insure 3 million more Americans instead of 30. They would not require everyone to carry insurance, and they would leave Americans free to choose to use emergency rooms for their medical needs or, pay out of their own funds until they are depleted, instead of being forced into a health insurance plan or penalty payment.

On most of the other issues, Republicans and Democrats really are not far apart. Both see the benefit of competition introduced into the insurance markets as a positive approach. Both acknowledge the benefit of creating pooled insurance purchasing for those with high cost conditions, effectively lowering their costs. And both sides agree to prohibit insurance companies from canceling policies due to medically necessary high costs.

The politics of the health care reform issue are vastly more complex than what I have outlined here as fundamental differences and areas of agreement. Republicans will continue to act the Party of "No" on Democrat's health care proposal votes in Congress. And Democrats, knowing this, are left with only two choices: abandon health care reform and earn the ire of the public for their failure in leadership as the majority Party, or, find a way to garner enough Democratic votes to pursue the Reconciliation method of passing the legislation with 51 votes in the Senate. Democrats are in pursuit of the Reconciliation option. However, it is not assured as an option, yet. The House and Senate parliamentarians (keepers of the rules), have yet to determine if such a procedure would be allowable.

In the end, the chasm remained wide as ever. The partisan lines did not move an inch. And the American people remain on hold waiting for their government to effectively deal with the one thing both sides absolutely agreed on, that health care reform is necessary if our nation and economy are to survive and avoid the coming deficits and debt due to spiraling health care costs.

The President came off as cool, collected, and in control. Though many might well argue he was an uneven moderator, often interrupting Republican Representatives and Senators, presenting the appearance of keeping the discussions on track, civil, and productive.

Some of the many Republican proposals were incorporated into Pres. Obama's recently unveiled plan for reform, and the White House wasted no time setting up a web page outlining these. If their was anything gained by this summit, it was gained by Pres. Obama. He pledged in his election campaign to work for bi-partisanship and to include good ideas, regardless of who they came from. He did not break his promise in this Summit, nor in his reform plan.

There were quite a few incorrect and misrepresented facts thrown out in the Summit. Fortunately, FactCheck.Org has already issued their corrections for viewers to use in their debates over he said, she said.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on February 26, 2010 2:21 AM.

Health Care Reform: Public Option, Reconciliation, DOA? was the previous entry in this blog.

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