For some reason Neville Chamberlain is on my mind today. This morning the Secretary of Health signaled that the White House is ready to wave the white flag on the public option for health care, which is in my opinion, the backbone of the proposed legislation. A month ago I wrote an article in which I expressed my frustration over what I perceived to be a lack of commitment on the part of the Obama administration to real health care reform. First of all the only way to truly control the spiraling cost of health care is with a single payer system. However the Democrats gave up that fight before they even started down the reform road. Since single payer had been so demonized during the Clinton attempt at health care reform, they decided that they would forgo it this time in order to try and keep the rhetoric to a minimum. So before this current attempt at health care reform had even begun, they had already conceded the best option to control costs and to make sure that everyone receives some level of coverage.
It seemed naive to me at the time to believe that by conceding this option it would lead to less vitriol from the opponents of real reform and events have proven this point. As I have said previously, the Republicans are not interested in bi-partisanship. Their only goal is to defeat the President's agenda. The Democrats continue to concede point after point (the provision to provide end of life counseling is, if you pardon the pun, dead) in the name of bi-partisanship when the Republicans have no intention of voting for a health care reform bill regardless of the number of concessions that are made. If a bill does receive solid bi-partisan support you can rest assured that calling it a "reform" bill would be massive misnomer. In a town hall meeting this week the President singled out Chuck Grassley as a Republican who was trying to find ways to get bi-partisan agreement on the reform bill. The next day Grassley told an audience that the government shouldn't be in the business of killing grandma.
Each concession that the Democrats make only serves to embolden the opposition. The question becomes, is our government in the business of protecting the private insurance companies or protecting the health and well being of it's own citizens? Each concession in the never ending chase for phantom Republican votes only takes us further and further away from true reform. The Democrats are going to have to pass this bill on their own. They now have to figure out whether they want to pass something truly historic and helpful to the citizens of this nation or whether they want the GREAT HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL OF 2009 to become just another footnote in the history of politics of usual in Washington D.C.