Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Steady Hand at the Helm

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to pass an historic health care bill tonight, truly a momentous achievement in these mean times. Of course any bill is still a long way from reaching the President's desk for the signature that will make it the law of the land. The chickenshit United States Senate must pass their bill, then the two bills, those of the House and the Senate, must go before a joint committee to reconcile their differences, and the finished bill must again pass both the House and Senate. Then, once that long and complicated dance is over, it goes to President Obama for his signature.

There is an old political addage that declares the making of legislation is almost as disgusting to watch as the making of sausage - the good stuff often gets cut out while the tripe is mixed in with gusto. When the Republicans fail in their effort to kill health care outright, they will certainly try to make it ineffective by hacking away the good parts and dumping in the garbage.

One of the stated Republican objectives in destroying any hope for public health care is their belief that to do so will take down their bogeyman - President Obama. But while these small-minded, racist obstructionists have been laser-focused on health care, several other bills of social import have made it into law. As reported last week in this blog, we have now expanded federal hate crimes legislation to cover cases involving gender identification and sexual orientation. The next time someone is beaten to death (or just beaten, or just discriminated against) because they are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered - the perpetrators will become acquainted with federal prosecutors and federal courts.

Congress has a long history of passing weapons bills for things the Pentagon doesn't really want. Why? Because sleazy defense contractors (a description that easily includes all defense contractors) cleverly spread the jobs out for these projects into many districts of Congressmen whose votes are critical for the projects. They become jobs bills, whether the country really needs the weapons systems or planes or tanks, or whatever. Of course these sleazy contractors also give cash directly to Congressmen or their campaign committees.

Republicans are very "patriotic" and "pro-defense," due in large part to the cash the gets thrown at them by defense contractors. But this year, while they were busy demonizing the President and trying to make health care look like a plot to kill old people, the rest of Congress (the intelligent segment) and our President were able to get the F-22 fighter jet (a fighter jet that the Pentagon did not want) terminated. Also sliced from the budget was the new fleet of Presidential VH-71 helicopters.

Other accomplishments of the Obama administration include setting aside 1.2 million acres of Wyoming range land, effectively making it off limits to the greedheads of the oil and natural gas industries. (That oil and gas will keep - it won't spoil - and our grandchildren may need it!) The Food and Drug Administration has now been given regulatory control over tobacco - something Republicans have fought against for generations. And the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has been expanded and enhanced. This is a wonderful program that allows poor children to receive medical care. President Bush, who was never a poor child, vetoed it twice in 2007. President Obama, who grew up in modest circumstances, signed it into law.

Obviously I'm glad that the Republicans have been so wrapped up in tea parties and the health care debate. While they were posturing for their base and mugging for the Fox News cameras, President Obama and the working members of Congress were able to make some real progress in other areas. The President is doing a remarkable job of navigating the ship of state through the Republican icebergs.

And as for affordable health care with a good public option, that too shall pass!

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