Dennis Trainor, Jr.
The 112th session of Congress gets underway today with Republicans sauntering into town with itchy fingers floating above their holsters like Cowboys seeking vengeance in an old western.
Ah, the spirit of America.
The Democrats don’t seem eager for a showdown, or, as Rep. Anthony Weiner put it, the Democrats are entering the new session “in the fetal position.”
The number one issue that Republicans are taking aim at is nothing less than the signature piece of legislation passed by the Obama administration: the health care reform bill. Republicans have vowed to vote on repealing healthcare reform as early as next week. John Boehner, our new speaker of the house, is on the record as saying that Obama’s Health Care reform will “ruin the best health care system in the world and bankrupt our country.”
While many (myself included) feel as if the health care reform championed by the Obama administration did not go nearly far enough to make health care (not insurance) available to all, the murderous position that is championed by Boehner and the Regressives on the right wing must be filed under the category of class warfare. One can only hope that the Democrats find the political will to extricate themselves from the fetal position and stand for… something.
With the notable exception of a few, like Anthony Weiner, I would not hold your breath. Rep. Weiner said on Countdown with Keith Olbermann the other night:
“If they want their very first vote to take away prescription drug money from senior citizens, to take away coverage from young Americans 21- 26, to take away coverage for people who have pre-existing conditions, this is the first thing they want to do? If they want that fight, bring it on, chicky.”
I am not sure who Chicky is, but I do admire Anthony Weiner’s pluck.
And yes, clearly the GOP does want this fight. Their position, as articulated by the tearful leader, is that we now have the best health care system in the world.
This, in fact, may be true. For some. For instance, if I go to see Kobe Bryant and the Lakers play against LeBron James and I sit in the noose bleed seats and watch the best game in the world, my experience of that game is far different than Jack Nicolson’s. Jack is sitting courtside where he has a close up view; he can listen in on the huddle, he can high five the players after a great play, he can smell Kobe Bryant’s sweat. I, on the other hand, have my 12-dollar beer spilled all over me by some hoodlum who keeps jumping up and down to block my view.
And I was lucky enough to get into the stadium. Many were forced to watch on TV (not all that bad) while others don’t even get to watch the game.
Healthcare, obviously, is not basketball. For the large majority of American citizens, our healthcare system is not the best in the world. It is merely adequate when compared to many industrialized nations, with the following added weight: Access to healthcare in this country is predicated on corporate profit. Simply put, if you have health insurance you are the beneficiary of a game that wins when people suffer and die.
Period. Full stop. End of fucking story. The health care insurance racket provides access and makes a disgusting profit with a direct correlation to how many people it denies coverage. In other words, when people die health care insurance companies do well.
Which is why, when Republicans revive the death panel myth, as they certainly will, I don’t think we should lament this a travesty, as Dr. Atul Gawande did today on Democracy now (video below); I think we should see this as an opportunity.
Perhaps, as the health care debate revives, Obama or some Democrat will find the will to do what no one did during the town hall debates (hijacked as they were by Tea Party Town Hall Terrorists) and that is this: walk to the steps of Blue Cross Blue Shield or Aetna with a camera crew, march to the office of the CEO and show the American people where the very real death panels reside. How much creative imagination and PR moxy does it take to outfox the GOP on an issue where the status quo is killing people?
For the die hard (no pun) right wing lunatics who claim that we simply can not afford to provide health care for all and who choose to ignore the fact that single payer health care is actually cheaper than our current system, perhaps a baby step forward might be to take the money out of our bloated, wasteful, military budget and fund a system (insurance based or no) that will provide health care for all. That the GOP and the right wing Regressives will not entertain this displays clearly that the leaders who have just marched into the 112th congress (and the people who elected them) are much like the renegade and vengeance seeking Cowboy described at the top of the piece: cold blooded murderers.
Ah, the spirit of America.