Thursday, March 04, 2010

Obama's Health Care - Check or Checkmate?


The President threw down the gauntlet and now seems intent on forcing Congress into submission. It is quite a role reversal from his year of allowing Congress to decide what would be done and it is bound to upset those who still believe in the separation of government functions, the executive and legislative branches, and the legislative procedures of the House and Senate.

Obama and the White House gang are desperate and believe this is the only thing they can get done before the fall elections that might stop the Democrats self-destruction and potential loss of leadership of the House and Senate. In truth it could do a lot more harm than good.

For one, he is counting on his somewhat tarnished vision that people can be strongly influenced by the president of the USA whether they be moderate Democrats, Republicans, Iran, North Korea or the Olympic site selection committee. So far his track record of being heard is dismal at best. The long year Congress has been debating the health care bill just adds to the frustration.

Now his two week timetable to get this done before, well I guess Armageddon, seems a bit ambitious but Obama, if nothing else, has demonstrated that his inexperience in leading has been his greatest fault. Now that the Republicans are out of the picture, and in truth Obama's problem has never been the Republicans but his own party since the Democrats have decisively controlled the House and the Senate, we shall see if he can lead his own party if not the nation.

Which leads us to the second part of the puzzle, the legislative process. What Obama has done is circumvent the legislative process. He had the House pass a health care bill. Then he had the Senate pass an entirely different health care bill. Now he has presented his own bill containing some elements of the House and Senate bill and other things.

Normally a Conference between the House and Senate would be held to work out the differences between bills and present it back to the House and Senate for final approval. Obama has eliminated that step by saying, after a year of legislative hassle, he doesn't want either bill but now wants his own. To give it to him means the Democrats must do the following.

1. The House must pass the Senate bill as is.
2. The House must pass a new bill clarifying changes they want made to the Senate bill they just approved.
3. The Senate must pass the new House bill under Reconciliation which is supposed to be used for only budget and deficit issues.
4. Then the president must sign both bills setting up the health care reform and then changing the health care reform before it is even started.

Of course not all the things the Democrats will want to change can be included under Reconciliation. For example any restrictions on Abortion, and there are some in the House bill but none in the Senate bill, are a matter of policy and not budget so should be excluded from reconciliation. That means Obama will lose the support of all the House Democrats who are Right to Life, all of whom supported the House bill the first time. Not good for the President.

The House and Senate do not even agree what should be in the final bill or two as the House also wants the public option, Andy Stern and the unions want control of all health care workers in America, Goldman Sachs wants nothing that might hurt the stock value of companies they represent on Wall Street, and Obama will take anything so he can say he did accomplish one thing his first two years as president.

Then, of course, there are the deals that will have to be made to get the House to agree to the old Senate bill and the Senate to agree to the new House bill. We already saw how far both the House and Senate went to cut deals for the first bills. The second will be much harder and closer thus opening the door to pork barrel, favoritism, legal bribes and ferocious lobbying to an extent never seen before.

Don't be surprised if wheel barrows full of money are moved into the political campaign funds of those Democrats sitting on the fence. Self-survival seems to be the greatest motivator of our Washington establishment.

With all this confusion, Congress and the president will be operating in a fog, both to keep each other confused as well as the voter and taxpayer who will pay for this mess. Media analysts on both sides of every issue will no doubt expand their standard fare of hyperbole and exaggeration to outright lies and deception as no one, from the president to the Secretary of Health to the leaders of both the Democrats and Republicans and including every person hired by the media to give us the facts has ever let truth get in the way of making a point.

If Obama brings about a checkmate and no health care bill gets through, every person in America worried about the economy, out of work, or having trouble making ends meet should wonder how they can support any longer a president whose own ego and arrogance keep him demanding a win in health care while our economy keeps seeking into the abyss. His failure to address the economy, the Wall Street debacle, the foreign policy crisis and everything else he failed to do the last year will prove he is too inexperienced to be trusted as president.

When the people standing behind him are Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and they all contributed to the obsession with health care and ignorance of the economic problems we face then we should realize there is only one way out of the mess, to change the balance of power by giving the Republicans control of the House and Senate so someone can keep him from destroying the country and it certainly is not the Joe, Nancy and Harry show currently leading the Democrats.

Right now the nation stands at check with the failure of the President and Congress to complete work on a health care bill after a year of nonsense. Checkmate stands about two weeks away when Obama tries to force the House and Senate Democrats to do his will while ignoring the will of the public. Just who are the pawns in this classic chess match? Stay tuned.


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