Yesterday, TPM flagged a refreshingly candid quote from Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia:
On Thursday, Rockefeller admitted he expects little bipartisan support.
"There is a very small chance any Republicans will vote for this health-care plan. They were against Medicare and Medicaid [created in the 1960s]. They voted against children's health insurance.
"We have a moral choice. This is a classic case of the good guys versus the bad guys. I know it is not political for me to say that," Rockefeller added.
"But do you want to be non-partisan and get nothing? Or do you want to be partisan and end up with a good health- care plan? That is the choice."
I don't generally like when politicians use good v. bad arguments in attempts to sway public opinion on matters of policy but this strikes me as a pretty damn accurate assessment of what the political dynamics of healthcare reform really are.
The Republican Party has opposed every important link in our social safety net dating back to the New Deal. Arguably, today's GOP establishment is even more ideologically rigid than that which opposed Social Security in the '30s and Medicare and Medicaid in the '60s. They don't believe in helping working people and instead focus their efforts on making life easier for folks that are already extremely wealthy. That is the fundamental choice that their policy positions reflect even though many self-identified GOP voters are more flexible about support for programs that will reduce costs and alleviate suffering for their fellow Americans.
Here's where we are:
On one side is the moral imperative and the will of the overwhelming majority of the American people. I personally agree that we do have a moral imperative to provide affordable quality healthcare to all Americans by creating a public option plan. This, again, is supported by 72% of Americans and even 50% of Republicans.
On the other side you have the Republican establishment, lobbyists, their clients, and their lapdogs in the Democratic Party.
NPR took a photograph of the crowd at a recent Congressional hearing on healthcare and has started to identify the lobbyists currently buying access to our Senators.
Senator Landrieu still seems to be confused as to whether health insurance is a luxury or a fundamental right. She still seems unsure as to whether we should have a substantive healthcare reform bill or one that placates a GOP establishment that has been routinely punished by voters for past opposition to important expansions of the social safety net.
Does she stand with the President, her Party, and the overwhelming majority of the American people or does she stand with the insurance lobby and the restless rump of the GOP?
What side of history does she want to be on?
This is how little people like you and I can lobby the Senator:
Washington D.C.: (202) 224-5824
New Orleans: (504) 589-2427
Baton Rouge: (225) 389-0395
Shreveport: (318) 676-3085
Lake Charles: (337) 436-6650