What now for health care reform?

The election of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate, in effect, may have ended the existing Democrat-initiated bills for health care reform.  That is not only a disaster for the party.  It’s a disaster for the millions of people without health care, the tens of thousands who will face bankruptcy as the result of illness, and the more than 33,000 Americans who will die this year for lack of access to health care. 

It didn’t have to end this way.  If the Democrats had shown even an ounce of fortitude and political savvy, they could not only have passed health care reform by now.  In all likelihood, they would have retained the Senate seat that they had controlled since the 1950s.

But that’s all water under the proverbial bridge.  The Democratic Party can’t afford to wallow in self-pity and frustrations.  They can’t afford to point fingers at Republicans.  As voters in Massachusetts have shown, Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves.  If the Democratic Party wants to avoid a disaster in this November’s elections, it has to find a spine.  Democratic Representatives and Senators need to have massive injections of testosterone.The way forward is to act as if they’re representing the people who elected them.  Not the special interest groups and lobbyists.  They must do what they promised before they were elected.  And they must collectively confront a belligerent and bellicose Republican Party.   They not only must lead.  They must reveal their opponents for what they really are:  Representatives of big corporations and big money.

In a television interview, Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania pointed a way forward for health care reform.  He said that he would recommend that Congress pass a bill that would impose anti-trust laws on insurance companies and forbid insurers from exempting pre-existing conditions and prevent them from dropping coverage whenever it becomes too expensive.   He said that the insurance industry will, in turn, demand that all Americans be covered.  Congress could then pass a complete reform package one step at a time.  If Republicans threaten to filibuster, he said that he would let them do so.  Republican Senators would be forced to read the phone book and other nonsense for days and demonstrate to the American public how obstructionist they’ve become.

In my opinion, there may be better approaches.  But the intent is correct.  Somewhere Democrats must find what they have obviously been lacking for the past year – a pair of balls.