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September 22, 2013

Comments

Mike King

Doug,

We’re already regurgitated the reconciliation point on Facebook. No need to do that again here, but bottom line is IMHO the process is no longer unusual or rare. It got to that point because of the abuse – yes in both parties – of the Senate’s filibuster rules. But it’s also important to note that the use of “cloture” – essentially the threat of filibuster requiring at least 60 votes to even bring a bill, any bill, to the floor for an up or down vote – has been the very public and bragged about tactic of the Senate Minority Leader since the election of 2008, and its widespread use since then can only be described as an effort to obstruct the normal legislative process. That’s why those of us who claim that the law was duly passed, affirmed by the Supreme Court, and is the law of the land, do not accept that such a claim is opinion. It is fact. It passed. It really did happen. It was in all the papers. There were votes recorded and everything.

Would it have been better if more Republicans had endorsed it? Sure, and I guess it would have also better if more Democrats had endorsed the Bush tax cuts that took a 50-50 tie breaking vote from Dick Cheney to pass back in 2003. (Talk about a bill that had widespread impact, especially for deficit spending.) And, remember for a while there Obama, Max Baucus, Harry Reid and company were trying to work with Charlie Grassley to fashion a health reform bill that got at least some minority party support, by among other things, taking out a government option plan. But then Charlie got bitch-slapped by Mitch McConnell and fell back in line and that was that. To counter now (in 2013) that the law was not legitimately passed because reconciliation was used in 2010 and we ought to put it on hold until yet another election cycle because maybe those of us who don’t like it can get enough new House and Senate seats to muster up a veto override of a repeal; well that just seems beyond all reason.

On the other hand, the claim that the ACA institutes “death panels” has been and continues to be fiction. A damnable lie. Not even close to being a fact. If it was meant to be a comment on the law’s inclusion of language authorizing treatment effectiveness research – and we all know it wasn’t, it was aimed at scaring people – then it might, just might, have led to a better, more thoughtful discussion of that subject and how it relates, ultimately, to health care spending in the manner you describe. Or if it was just a misunderstanding of the provision that would have allowed Medicare to pay for end-of-life discussions between patient, patient families and physicians, it could be forgiven, I suppose. But that’s not what happened. It was a tactic employed first by Sarah Palin and then by Michelle Bachman and it continues to be associated with minds of that caliber.

And, wow, Scott Brown’s 2010 election in Massachusetts was a national referendum on Obamacare? And Obama’s election in 2012 wasn’t? Seriously? I wonder what Brown’s loss in 2012 means then? Call in the revisionist historians. You’ll need some help spinning this yarn, Brother Douglas. (Perhaps coach Wallace?)

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. I’ll end with this.

Many of us on the left thought that the No Child Left Behind law pushed by President Bush after he first took office was a flawed attempt to address a legitimate issue – and a huge one at that – about how to ensure quality public education standards. In scope, if not in federal budget spending, NCLB was a landmark bill. But rather than fight it at every turn, rather than offer weak, pseudo reforms just to claim the Democrats had a plan, the party’s leadership actually helped. Thus you had this rare bipartisan scene of George Bush and Ted Kennedy standing together when the NCLB was passed and signed into law.

It wasn’t long before the flaws in the law began to show up, but the Democrats didn’t stage 40 symbolic votes in the House trying to repeal it. They moved on to other issues. Even when they regained control of the House, there was no major repeal effort mounted against it and certainly no calculated, fact-challenged campaign to discredit it. Opponents simply kept pointing out the problems and, over time, states and local school boards did the same. With almost every year and with every new Congress NCLB was amended and state waivers were granted, but the law remained in effect.

It wasn’t until recently when with a new occupant in the White House, a new secretary of education and – interestingly with a dash of bipartisanship at least at the state level – that NCLB has been so rewritten that it seems very different than what was passed in 2001.

That’s how the process is supposed to work. Congress passes a law. The administration implements it. If it doesn’t work, Congress passes amendments to fix it. If it can’t be fixed Congress passes a law that repeals it.

The ACA is the law. If you don’t have the votes to repeal it, find them in the next election, or the next, or elect a new President who agrees with you. Don’t stage one economic crisis after the next until you get your way. Until then, let’s get this thing started. It’s not like it’s important or anything. We’re only talking about the health and well being of the nation’s citizens.

Sky

Doug:
As I mentioned before - you should send in some of your posts to the NYT (and - this one would be a fine example). Here is a link… http://www.nytimes.com/content/help/site/editorial/op-ed/op-ed.html

Suffice it to say that if a substantial number of people think Op-Ed Columnist Paul Krugman's (simplistic/dreary) pieces are insightful - yours would (by comparison) appear positively transcendent! And, as an (even if oblique) observation, the more complexity any given topic contains, the easier it is to obfuscate any of the subtle nuances and associated deeper currents the issue might portend (again - simply by use of the magician’s venerable technique of misdirection – meaning in this case, a mere simulacrum of loud recapitulations of ideologue vernacular that becomes a stand-in for well-reasoned assessments). One of the oldest clichés of all may apply: e.g., telling a half-truth with (seeming) compassion and near endless repetition unfortunately captures the evanescent mindshare of a fair amount of the general populace (and this, due in large part simply to their innate lack of energy to come to their own investigative conclusions). Your essays (including tone) could go a long way toward presenting a more balanced ‘voice’ – and one that reconstitutes a great deal of the finer points of critical discourse – while in process, bringing back a necessary weighing of both sides to the complex issues of the day. I for one am weary of "opinionators" that (mostly) abuse syntactic logic via monophonic journalistic sledgehammer-like diatribes rather than taking up the (often needed) delicate 2-hair brush of more thoughtful considerations. By commenting on important topics with balanced deliberation (such as you do) at the end of the day, it matters less whether the palette of the columnist has a bent coming from the left or the right, since a fair hearing of a considered train of thought is all that is being requested.
- Sky

Doug

My wife Ronnie often asks why I take the trouble to compose these BLOGs; not so subtly she implies a misspent ego. Maybe she's right. Maybe I get off finding out whether, or not, my ideas are good enough to stimulate others' thinking? If so, I can't remember being so rewarded as opening tonight's mail to see M.Rex's (King's) journalsitically-polished polemic and SKY (Yeatts) poetic stylings. Seriously, I'll address the substance of both comments in further comments or a near-future new post. Meanwhile, I just wanted to thank both of them for their "trouble."

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