Health Care as a Horror Movie
Okay. This is the first entry I have made in a long time. It's not that there haven't been things to write about. There have. Plenty of things. My goodness...America has elected its first Black President since the last time I blogged. And as an African American, don't think that the import of that event has been lost on me. It hasn't, and I should take the time in the near future to write about where I was and what I was thinking when that historical event took place. But don't assume that just because I am an African American, I am riding the Democratic Train and blowing the whistle myself. Quite the contrary. I am one of those apparently anachronistic entities that drive some folks absolutely crazy: A Conservative African American. Oh! The Horror! Speaking of which...that actually brings me to the subject of today's blog.
I've been watching the whole Health Care debacl...uh...debate as it's taken place in Washington, and today a singular image positioned itself firmly in my head. To wit, is it just me, or has anyone else out there ever gotten the feeling that this whole Thing known as Health Care Reform is nothing short of every horror movie baddie you've ever seen that JUST WOULDN'T DIE? You know. Like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, when you think she's drowned in the bathtub, but the music cues and she comes back, dripping, for one more scare? Or the liquid Terminator in Judgment Day (clearly the best of the franchise), when you think he's been shattered into a thousand liquid nitrogen-soaked pieces, but the warmth of hot steel slowly causes him to pool, puddle together, and rise from the metal shards to terrorize John Connor once more? Sheesh. What do we have to do to kill this thing? (I'm talking about Health Care, now). First, they said a bill would be on the President's desk by August (clearly an attempt to squeeze the bill out like a hard turd before Congress went home on their summer break to face the wrath of the pitchfork-wielding hordes...uh constituents). But the deadline was missed, and the Summer of the Town Hall was unleashed. Tea Partiers and non-Tea Partiers alike crammed meeting places and gave their representatives a piece of their collective minds. The news media sneered - writing off the discontent as false fomentation by a small group of plug-chewers backed by Boogie Man Republican Big Wigs. Even so, for awhile it seemed as if the message might be hitting home - as if the Democrats might pause their headlong jump off the precipice in time to take a few steps back and re-think their bill. But any hopes of sanity faded quickly, as the warm breath (read: hot air) of the progressive media pundits gave new life to the ready-to-shatter Bill, and lawmakers grew strong and resolved again - determined to ignore their constituents at all costs.
Flash forward to November, when a smiling Nancy Pelosi announced that her House (it certainly ain't ours) had passed its version of Health Care reform. For awhile, it had looked like passage might be aborted (pun intended), but two of the Blue Dog holdouts, Bart Stupak and Joe Pitts, got together and created the Stupak-Pitts amendment to prevent federal funding for abortion. For some liberals, this was a tough pill to swallow (pun intended) but enough of them eventually choked it down to pass the bill. Once again, the Spectre (pun unintended. I am, after all, a lady) rose from the puddle into which it was sinking - apparently not enough water thrown on it to complete the "I'm Melting!" process. Still, though, the Senate would have to pass something. And we all know they are not as progressive (read: Liberal) as the House.
Flash forward once again. This time to December, when Ben Nelson, Senator from Nebraska, had announced that he would not support the bill. Deprived of its 60 votes, the Bill would surely die. But wait! All it needed was a little Bribery to resuscitate it, and all would be well. And sure enough, ol' Ben latched on to a sweet deal for his state (and his state alone) like a baby latches onto its mother's breast. And on December 22, the Bill came roaring back to life again - stronger than ever, since there was now only one more hurdle to cross before it splatted onto the President's desk. That hurdle was the "conference" - the process wherein the House and Senate kick, scream, threaten and cajole in order to merge their two flavors of a bill into one giant monstrosity. As the process began, life for the Bill began to look bleak. Union bosses were upset that the President had proposed taxing "Cadillac" health-insurance plans. They didn't want their members to help carry that burden - preferring instead that the rest of us do so. Without their support, the Bill would be deprived of one of the necessities of its life: support from a key Democrat Special Interest. Things were looking bad. But the Unions squealed and squirmed, and finally secured a sweet deal that would exempt them from the extra tax until 2018 - thus opening up a multi-billion dollar cost hole in the Bill. Apparently, though, that bloody fissure was not enough to cause its death, and in mid-January it was on target to limp over the finish line to the Promised Land (that would be the President's desk). But then came B-Day, January 19, 2010, when Scott Brown won the People's Seat in Massachusetts, thus denying the Democrats their 60-vote supermajority in the Senate. This was the sword in the heart of the beast. It coughed, sputtered, and finally died that day...the glowing red light of its flame fully extinguished. The People had spoken, and the evil Terminator was vanquished. But...what's this?....Wha?.... Slowly, quietly, the Bill's flame is flickering once again. Democrats now, it is reported, are working quietly behind the scenes to pass the Bill via a means normally used for budget issues: Reconciliation. Most folks believe this won't work. They believe that the Bill is truly dead...never to come to life again for a generation (kind of like that thing in Jeepers Creepers). But I'm not so sure. I've seen enough horror movies to know how this story goes. People, gird your loins, 'cause it ain't dead yet.