Sunday, February 21, 2010

U-Turn on Health Care (and More)

Democrats are rediscovering the old saying, "just as well to be hung for a sheep as a lamb," as they edge toward passing health care by a simple majority in the face of Republican roadblocks that have aroused public outrage.

"I've had many conversations this week with the president, his chief of staff, and Speaker Pelosi," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday. "And we're really trying to move forward on this."

Such an effort would call the GOP bipartisan bluff and make a bet that voters, after being flummoxed by thousands of gobbledegook pages with tradeoffs and sellouts, would respond favorably to a stripped-down bill with the main elements of reform that opinion polls show they want. Even the public option is poised to make a comeback.

In his weekly address yesterday, the President railed against recent double-digit premium hikes: "The bottom line is that the status quo is good for the insurance industry and bad for America. Over the past millions of Americans lost their coverage, the five largest insurers made record profits of over $12 billion."

In the days before a much-vaunted bipartisan summit on health care, the White House finally seems ready to engage the GOP monolith of misrepresentation that has been winning elections and blocking progress on the President's agenda.

Republicans, says the White House Communications Director, "have a role to play in solving problems in this country, or be accountable to the electorate for choosing not to."

Peace-loving as he may be, the President would do well at this crucial point to consult some relatively obscure Shakespearian wisdom:

"To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?/Not to the beast that would usurp their den./The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,/And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood."

Barack Obama has to get his Congressional worms to start making a U-turn on health care--and more.

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