Is It Time to Go to the Mattresses on Health Care?

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December 17, 2009 by D Stack

No, no, no! No more! Not this time, consiglieri. No more meetings, no more discussions, no more Sollozzo tricks. You give ’em one message: I want Sollozzo. If not, it’s all-out war: we go to the mattresses.

– Sonny Corleone, The Godfather

I was chatting online with some people today and doing some reading and I think I’m beginning to get what’s  bugging me in the health care reform debate in the Senate. If this reform is so important to Democrats, are they prepared to fight for it? I mean really fight for it. Go the mattresses fight for it?

It is clear that Republicans are prepared to fight against it with everything they have. And during the Bush administration when they had a majority (a “permanent” majority) they showed they were willing to consider “nuclear” options to accomplish their goals. To get votes on judges they made noises about ending the filibuster for judicial appointments. To get the Justice Department aligned to their judicial philosophy, there were mass firings of “disloyal” attorneys. I’m not praising these actions, but one must say they showed when something was important to them they were willing to fight for them. And while I have questions about the Justice Department firings, they were well within their Constitutional bounds to rattle sabers with regard to judicial appointment filibusters. As a result they got a compromise from moderate Democrats and Republicans who did not want to see the filibuster removed.

Now we’ve got health care reform in the Senate. Supposedly it is the most important agenda for President Obama and the Democratic party. But right now Joe Lieberman has been apparently ceded authority over health care reform by the Senate leadership. But the Senate leadership has options. The most brutal option is changing or removing the filibuster. It is something they can do and something which has been done before. There’d likely be a political cost to doing so, but as the Republicans of the previous administration showed, even the threat of a nuclear option can be a trigger for compromise. There is also the process of Reconciliation in the Senate which allows for passing of budget items with only a simple majority.

Again, there would clearly be a political cost to doing so. But, if they really believe in health care reform one would hope they’d have confidence that the American people would be overjoyed with the result once they saw how wonderful it is. However, there has been not even so much as a murmur of doing anything which shows the Democrats are truly committed to health care reform. It’s clear they’d like it. But it is not clear that they are willing to fight for it. So, I can think of a few reasons why this might be. There may be others too:

  1. They lack the courage to fight for this even though they believe in it.
  2. They don’t think health care reform is advisable or will prove to be unpopular so they don’t really want it to pass but want to look like they do so they can blame the evil Republicans.
  3. They need those checks from the insurance industry lobby.

Maybe there’s a better explanation. But I’m at a loss…

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