Monday, August 24, 2009

Republican "Bipartisanship" is Letting Republicans Get Their Way


It really never ends in this country. Probably nowhere else, either, but as that I live here, it's my current primary concern. I'm talking about this. A delightful little argument about how Democrats can achieve bipartisan cooperation. The undertone, of course, is taken straight from the Rush Limbaugh play book, which can be seen in this four-part series from his 2009 RNC CPAC address. Now, Limbaugh is, in my opinion, the very definition of repugnant. His entire show focuses on thinly veiled racism, sexism, and outright bigotry and hatred. Yes, he does indeed want Obama to fail, and I can't honestly bring myself to believe that he means just Obama's policies. Now, the one good thing about Rush that I can say is that he's often honest about his viewpoints. I say often, because like everyone else, there's always an element of obfuscation somewhere.

Anyway, Rush's idea of "compromise" and "bipartisanship" is really "we get what we want all the time." The Republicans are clearly in his pocket in this, which is why those of us on the more progressive front have a hard time understanding why the liberals in Congress and the White House are paying them any attention at all. They've made it clear that they're not going to go for anything supported by a liberal, ever, and after all this effort of reaching across the aisle, the Democrats will get, oh, about zero Republican votes. They've drawn their wagons, done their poll research, created their talking points, and they're doing what they do best - turtling and jamming their fingers in their ears, crying because it's THEIR birthday, dammit, and it'll be their way or the highway.

No, I'm sorry Rush, I don't have any respect left for you and your kind. You yell and scream that this is not the America that you grew up in like that's a bad thing. I'm sorry, but I think we've improved a lot since your toddler days - we've made some inroads into ending segregation and discrimination (I'm sorry that it offends you that there is anyone other than older white males in America); we have passed legislation that improves the quality of health care received by seniors (ah, yes, Medicare...that burr in your side!); we, despite our previous president's best efforts, have made major progress in the sciences (I know, reality really encroaches on your worldviews, but...there it is); and, I suppose most importantly for you, a majority of the American people decided they didn't like doing things your way anymore and voted a bunch of your guys out of Congress, and perhaps more importantly, voted for a president who promised to bring radical change. You want to talk about a mandate? There is was. Maybe you missed it.

Now, my vitriol isn't entirely directed against Mr. Limbaugh. No, he has plenty of cronies and plenty of others who think just like him anyway. You see, they have a sense of entitlement - they're conservative, they represent the "true America," so even when the majority of us vote against them, they're still entitled to have only their policies passed. See, when they were in power, they could do whatever they wanted, and now that they're out of power, they're still supposed to be able to do whatever they want, didn't you know?!

And, no, I'm no bleeding heart begging "can't we all just get along?" I'm ready to go for a more progressive agenda. We've got the power now, let's use it people.

I'm tired of all the talking points and rhetoric. I'm tired of the cliches in this. I'm tired of seeing people on or about to go on Medicare yell that the government should have nothing to do with health care. I'm tired people arguing that the government should have no right to interfere with a person's health decisions, and then try to legislate anti-abortion laws. I'm tired of having Republicans propose Advanced Care Planning and then other Republicans calling it death panels and having it removed. I'm tired of Republicans saying that they'd be happy to compromise, and then for every compromise they say "it's not enough. It's not our policy yet." I'm tired of the ignorance, of the outright stupidity, of the hypocrisy. I'm tired of this. I'm tired of old rich white men say that they're being put-upon and how hard it is to afford their multi-million dollar mansions with all these taxes while people starve to death or die because they can't afford health care. And sorry, yes, I am a white man myself, though nowhere near as wealthy as these guys.

But let me tell you something honestly, if I were making enough to be able to afford to cover myself and my family with health insurance, I would consider it an honor and a civic duty to thank the country that gave me the opportunity to do so, and to thank those who support the base of our country, and give back a little in taxes towards covering them. Because, let's be honest. You're already giving tax dollars to cover people who don't have health insurance - they use emergency rooms, which are quite expensive, and the funding for emergency rooms comes from...ah, that's dollars. So, your choice is - pay for very expensive treatments with your tax dollars, or maybe contribute to a more efficient and cheaper health insurance for other people. But that's the ultimate problem with the upper echelon conservatives. They honestly believe that they have reached where they are with absolutely no help. They don't drive on roads that are paid with by tax dollars. They didn't attend public schools. They never had an emergency operation. They have always grown and cooked their own food. They didn't have family members or friends who know people or had contacts. They were never on food stamps or welfare. They will never go on Medicare. They were never protected by police. They never had to use any medications that were created by research generated from public funds. No, they have never needed anybody, and they're not willing to part with their hard earned cash. Now, the truth of the matter is that a lot of them have very good lawyers who can get them out of paying a lot of their taxes anyway, so they don't have to fear that they might be contributing to someone else's, because that would be just awful.

Part of me hopes that the health care bill does eventually get a real vote. Let the Republicans vote against it. It won't matter. They'd never have voted for it anyway. Let the blue dogs vote it down too. That's fine. More people will die or go bankrupt. They really don't care. But maybe, just maybe, in a few people's minds, a small inkling will start to appear that these guys are all crazy hypocrites, that they have only their own self-interest and pay-checks in mind, and that they really don't represent the people. Maybe, after that, or, failing that, years from now when the present generation of conservatives die off, maybe there will be actual reform. Progress always comes in small incremental steps, usually long overdue. We'll get health care reform eventually, probably long after many of those who could have used it most have passed away, but it will come. That's the problem with conservatives, why they always have to fear - the world is always changing, and slowly...painfully slowly, we're beginning to wake up from their nightmare and realize that maybe, just maybe we should treat people equitably. Maybe someday we'll have a little compassion and realize that it's the nice thing, the moral thing, the ethical thing, hell, the Christian thing to do to help those who are less fortunate. My advice for those conservatives out there who are so for their own wealth and so for "morality" but are so against health care or any sort of social your damn Bible. It's not my damn Bible, and I don't consider myself bound by it. It's your damn book. Either follow it, or quit spouting it and pretending to believe a word of it.


tom sheepandgoats said...

I'm not so sure that people vote for one guy as much as they vote against the other guy. Thus, while Mr. Obama was and is undoubtedly popular, many voted on the "anyone but Bush" platform. Eight months out and now Obama's ratings are rapidly slipping, as Bush's did. Personally, this surprises me, because I tend to be a "give the guy a chance" fellow, regardless of who that guy is. But people are restless today, and easily fed up. Did I not just read somewhere that conservatives once again outnumber liberals in the U.S. though neither outnumber those who describe themselves as moderates?

tom sheepandgoats said...

Upon further reflection, I think conservatives would not recognize themselves in your description.

You're already giving tax dollars to cover people who don't have health insurance....So, your choice is - pay for very expensive treatments with your tax dollars, or maybe contribute to a more efficient and cheaper health insurance for other people.

That's not the choice, at least not as they see it. They fear exchanging one system with a given rate of increasing expense for another with a much greater rate of increasing expense.

Conservatives distrust government. It's nothing to do with being mean and selfish. Some are, of course, but some of every group are. But conservatives hate new agencies to come into being because agencies never fulfill their mandate and disband. Nor do they stay the same size. Instead, they expand, often exponentially - all at taxpayer expense.

Now, no one anywhere tries to write themselves out of a job - that applies to private as well as public. But private has the external discipline of the need for profitability to keep growth in check. Public has no such check. It is even the opposite - grandstanding politicians can always gain favor by promising more and more, unconcerned about the bill.

Now, lest you think I am defending conservatism, I'm not. When conservatives have control, the rich get richer, the poor poorer. Moreover, they give business an unencumbered green light, and we've all seen what unencumbered business is capable of. Witness the environment and banking meltdown.

But it does no good just to call them selfish SOBs. You just undermine your own authority, since you fail to acknowledge their foremost concern. Instead, you might point out that, after defeat of Hillary's plan, they had almost 20 years to address the healthcare situation, which they said they would do. Yet they've done nothing, and the situation now is much more dire than then.

Ragoth said...

I'm sure that many would probably not recognize themselves in that description, but at the same time, that doesn't mean it isn't at least somewhat accurate.

I think in this specific case, we do have a fair amount of evidence that the people who are most violently opposed to the public option are those who are being paid large amounts of campaign contributions from the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies and that for the majority of these people, it's a political means to an end to "make this Obama's Waterloo." Whatever they may claim at their town halls or on certain news programs, they have made those statements, and they are getting paid an awful lot and seem to be simply following the money.

Now, could they also be opposed to new agencies for the reasons that you have listed? Yes, certainly. But at least, in this case, the reasons that they have stated have been entirely political.

Do agencies expand? Quite often, but not always. Bush eliminated his science advisory team. Regulatory bodies have also been cut, often to disastrous conclusions, as you have pointed out. NASA has hardly expanded. They are still working with almost the same budget that they had after the Apollo program. The only agency that doesn't suffer from cutbacks seems to be the Department of Defense, which, to me, is obscene.

They probably don't see it as a choice of paying tax dollars to emergency room care, or paying tax dollars to a public option that may reduce the need for emergency room visits by the uninsured, and they certainly would never agree that it could be more efficient. But, looking at the numbers, most projects are tending to lean that way. Would we be disappointed by the reality of it? May it be more expensive in every category? It's possible, and if so it's entirely right to argue against it or to change the system, but at this point, the most compelling evidence is that the public option would be better. They might say it's not good evidence, or just ignore it, but until they come up with something better, ignoring it doesn't constitute a good argument.

Ragoth said...

I carefully agree with your statement on profitability keeping growth in check. While it is, on the surface, true that the demands of a profit margin will often shrink a company overall, it often does nothing to cut the salaries of those at the top. As long as the company makes a profit, the leaders can and will often take what they can get. The public option, as a non-profit, may have its own restrictions on growth. Politicians can grandstand, but if the people are vocal enough, or conservatives powerful enough, they can keep expansion in check. If there are rigorous standards for types of care offered, that can keep growth in check. Will it expand? Probably. Will it become bloated to the point of being useless? I honestly can't say. I do know that the private companies have basic monopolies over states and are getting quite fat off the profits. I would like to see a little competition in there.

I will defend the tone of this post only by saying that I dealt with the logical problems in a previous post - the Inherent Contradictions one. That the conservatives have done nothing for health care reform in two decades, aside from Bush's prescription drug expansion, is very telling against them, but I honestly feel that that point is almost too self-evident. Hell, I couldn't even vote last time this kind of thing got proposed, but I do remember very well the "We're not saying 'no' to reform, we just want to do it better, safer, later" line that always got used, then and now. This post was...more of an emotional reaction to a more recent string of statements and videos that have been put out.

So, I'll stand by the "selfish SOBs" comment, because I haven't left it only at that. I've talked about their own statements, voting records, and inconsistencies. Selfish doesn't anywhere near cover it, but it's a good start as a descriptor.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the more emotional issue. If you want the more logical analysis, I refer you to my previously-stated post.