Steamroll the GOP on health care

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By Rick Howell

    President Barack Obama has bent over backwards to try and be “bipartisan” about health care reform. From the beginning of his administration, and on every single issue, this president has made what most consider a noble effort to get support for his policies from the other party.

    Bipartisanship is popular; it’s supposedly what most Americans want from politicians in Washington. But on the issue of health care reform, the summer’s hot political topic, the president has gotten absolutely nothing from the other side for his bipartisan efforts. In fact, they’ve done everything they can to ruin him.

    He’s been called a Nazi; people have showed up at town hall meetings with pictures of Obama doctored to show a Hitler moustache. Right-wing extremists have carried on nonsense about “death panels.” And unfortunately, all these things have had an effect.

    Polls show the president’s approval ratings slipping, and support for health care reform also declining. Conservative misinformation, which almost always works with a lot of people, is having a great influence.

    Meanwhile, nearly 50 million people continue to be uninsured in this country. Probably every day, someone somewhere has a procedure or a treatment denied by a corporate bureaucrat because of a “pre-existing condition.” Insurance companies, the real entities that have long ago “taken over” health care, roll in massive profits while their CEOs make hundreds of times more than their average workers.

    We’re the only modern country left that allows such a situation, and of course we do it in the name of profits, one of the few things conservatives actually believe in. The notion of a “public option,” a government operated insurance plan that would compete with private plans, and that would give millions of poor people health insurance at little or no cost, is now at risk.

    What the president should do is stop wasting time trying to get Republican support. It hasn’t shown results because conservatives believe in corporate domination of our national life, and they believe that we should all be judged by how much money we’re able to make. That’s their “reality,” and the idea of doing anything for all of us, the “collective,” if you will, always smacks of socialism and sends them wailing at the moon.

    So, the president should adopt a No More Mister Nice Guy policy. He should remind Republicans that he and his party, not them, won the 2008 elections and that one of his campaign platforms was health care reform. He should get a bill passed - one that certainly includes the public option program - and not care whether he receives a single Republican vote.

    Roll over the other side with the numbers you have. Democrats control the White House and the Congress for a very simple reason: voters put the party there. The policies for which they voted should be passed. If Republicans want to run around with drawings of Hitler moustaches and cries of “don’t pull the plug on grandma!,” let them. What did Forrest Gump say? Stupid is as stupid does.

    I never thought Barack Obama would let anyone outmaneuver him. But when the other side doesn’t care how low it stoops, well, it’s time to realize what you’re up against. The president has given bipartisanship a chance and it hasn’t worked.

    It’s time to steamroll the opposition, “go it alone,” as the talking heads say, do the right thing for the American people, and pass meaningful health care reform. Leave the conservative Republicans in the dust of history, which is absolutely where they belong on this issue. 

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, is a member of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee, and can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com