Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Health care, the Republican Party and the non-functional Senate

We are seeing groundbreaking Legislation finally drag through the Senate. Because of the nature of the Senate, it's far from an ideal bill, but considering how dysfunctional the Senate is, this is the best we'll get.

Lindsay Graham complained to NPR about how Nebraska was getting the federal government to cover the state portion of Medicaid while South Carolina was not. Somehow that seems unfair to Sen. Graham, but he could have worked his own deal by agreeing to vote for the bill and replace Sen. Nelson. Really, all Graham and the Republicans want to do is complain. The irrational aspects of the Senate bill are the responsibility of the Republicans.

That's because the Republicans have created the dysfunctional Senate using its small state bias (which magnifies the numbers of Republicans elected), its arcane rules, and the tradition of the filibuster.

The Republicans lost control of the Senate because they can't govern. Now they are making the Senate itself unworkable because they believe that short-sighted voters and the conservative media will blame the Democrats for the results of the Republican scorched earth policies and refusal to deal with the deep problems America currently faced. The Republican effort to Filibuster the defense appropriations bill in hopes they can delay passage of health care is unacceptable and irresponsible.

Consider what the Republicans have done to the Senate. They are demanding a 60 vote super majority in order to pass any significant legislation, and they are refusing to even present legislative actions to work with. The Republican Senators have abdicated their duty to the American nation in favor of somehow damaging the Democrats. The result it that the Senate now can only function by unanimous vote of all 60 Democrats. That's the reason for all the political deals to pass health care. With the requirement of a unanimous vote each Democratic Senator can block all Senate legislation unless he or she is effectively bought off.

The Republicans could stop this overnight. They just need a few Republican Senators to vote for the health care bill and replace the Democratic Senators who are holding up the Democratic Party. But the Republicans refuse to do anything for the American nation because they want to political advantage.

If the Democrats do not hang this action around the necks of the Republicans running for election in 2010 then they deserve to be voted out of office. Only the American people do not deserve the return of the Republican Party to Senate power.

In the meantime we get maybe half the health care bill that we could have if the Republicans had the interests of the American public in mind instead of the hope for return to power.

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