Don’t Blame Jane for Bad Health Reform and Broken Government

Jane Hamsher does not support the Senate health care reform bill. No one should support the Senate health care reform bill because it is, frankly, a very bad bill. It has no real checks on the health insurance industry, and is an extremely expensive and wasteful way to expand coverage. Fortunately, our government is a bicameral constitutional democracy, and the other co-equal branch of Congress produced a much better bill that Jane does support, and is trying to make law.

Is the House bill perfect? No, it is still much worse than the ideal health care system. There are even sections of the Senate bill which are better than the House bill. (I have explained most of this sections in excruciating detail as part of my “what the Senate bill does better” series.)

All Jane is demanding is that our government follow the Constitution and do its job. She is now demanding Congress work like it was designed to by producing in conference the best legislation possible, taking the best elements from both bills. She expects House progressives to use their power to stop what has become a disgusting trampling of our basic rule of law by voting against any conference report which is not real reform. For making this “radical” demand that Congress be held to the incredibly high standard of simply following the Constitution, Jane has been attacked vigorously.

This 60-vote threshold is a myth. It was impossible to even filibuster in the Senate for the first several decades, and basically never happened in the first hundred years of our nation. The rules for cloture have been changed repeatedly over the decades. Requiring 60 votes (3/5 of all sworn in members) for cloture is a relatively new standard, one which has broken our system. Most importantly, there is nothing making the Democratic senators follow the 60 vote rule; if they really wanted to, they could get rid of it tomorrow, like Bill Frist almost did a few years ago.

Much of the supposed liberal, progressive, and/or establishment media has occasionally decided to give some lip service to the need to get rid of the filibuster, but they claim it must only be done with quiet, “inside voices,” and by politely asking the senators to maybe think about changing a made-up, anti-Constitutional rule that is destroying the country. It is only lip service because, at the same time, they are loudly applauding Harry Reid for figuring out a way to completely gut health care reform to get those 60 votes.

Even as they muse about the filibuster, they are endorsing the terrible bill it produced, and telling all progressives to be thankful for their crumbs. This makes them enablers for a broken system, and what they are enabling is the destruction of our nation. Our health care costs are killing us, our lack of good banking regulation is setting us up for another great financial collapse, and global warming is threatening the long-term success of not only our country but our species. None of these major problems will ever be solved as long as we have this anti-constitutional 60-vote threshold.

Things will never get better unless we demand they get better. The veal pen that has enabled this terrible bill every step of the way did not just help kill real health care reform, but any hope of ever finding real solutions to the serious problems we face. By saying you support this bill, you are indirectly endorsing the idea that the Constitution can be violated and Ben Nelson/Joe Lieberman/Blanche Lincoln should get to be all-powerful. Like her methods or not, Jane has a strategy, and she is trying to use it to help fix our health care system—and our government.

Congress will not change the way it operates without a crisis. If we can't make choosing between the overwhelming will of the American people or choosing their stupid Senate privileges that protect the health insurance companies a crisis, I can't imagine any other route to fixing this rotten rule that has ruined the Senate. The time for politely musing about possibly, eventually asking senators to maybe fix our broken system of government has long passed. This is the time to demand better. This is the time to push Congress to the breaking point. Push them until they are so backed into a corner they have no other choice but to address the underlying problems ruining our government. The second that some “liberals” in the media declared this bill “good enough,” they stopped pushing and starting defending our broken system as also “good enough.”

Jane Hamsher did not ruin health care reform. The veal pen who signaled all along that they would cheer even expensive, corrupt crumbs did that. If you only demand crumbs you will only ever get crumbs. The supposed “progressive” senators and House members who decide to defend the broken rules of Congress instead of doing everything possible to get the best bill possible are even more to blame.

You are angry about health care reform right now, and you should be, but I don't see why you are angry with Jane. She promised from the very beginning to constantly fight for the best health care reform bill possible, and never to accept a bill that is not real reform. That is what she promised, and that is what she is doing. It is Senators like Tom Harkin, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, etc., and the 65 members of the progressive caucus who promised to do everything possible to fight for a public option that you should be angry at. They are the ones who broke their promise, and they are the ones who refused to use every tool (reconciliation, nuclear option, threats to remove chairmanships, forcing a real filibuster, attaching reform measures to large defense appropriation bills, etc.) at their disposal to deliver on real reform. They are the ones who actually have power to do something in Congress. So, why is anyone angry at Jane?

1 comment:

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