I know it looks as if President Obama and Congressional Democrats haven't quite figured it out yet, but a cursory look at
history tells us, they will probably have to go it alone if they're to enact a
revolutionary plan to fix the health care system in this country.They have to know this, so one has to assume that their attempted overtures are designed more to undermine Republicans, because they sure as hell won't be turning many Republican votes their way.
When you look
back at the political history of the United States since at least the beginning
of the 20th century, you will find that the GOP has quite a long history of
"no" to anything that would make our society more egalitarian. Every
major social advance this country made during the 20th Century — and there were a lot of them — came courtesy of
progressive Democrats, and happened despite massive opposition by Republicans,
with a healthy assist from Southern Democrats, who are now largely Republican.
Beginning in the
late 18th Century, the United States suffered through repeated economic panics and depressions. In the period between the first panic in 1797
through 1913, there were no fewer than 8 panics and 4 depressions. The economy
also suffered through at least a dozen long recessions.
In order to stem the
constant tide of bank panics, and to mitigate the ever-increasing cycle of
panic-recession-depression that plagued the American economy, Democrats wrote
the Federal Reserve Act. It passed in 1913, almost entirely along party lines. Progressive Democrats wanted a central bank
that properly balanced the interests of private banks with the public interest,
while conservatives and Republicans wanted a central bank that was largely run
by private banks, with minimal government "interference" or
regulation, because it was their position that government can't run anything
As you can probably
guess, all but a smattering of Republicans (and conservative Southern
Democrats) voted against the creation of the Federal Reserve. Yet, on balance,
it would be difficult to argue that the Federal Reserve hasn't largely been
beneficial for US monetary policy. When the economy hits difficult
times, the Fed lends them money to get them through. The only time in the 96
years since its creation that we've had a depression came in the early 1930s,
when a strongly "conservative" Fed chairman stopped lending money to
banks, with the acquiescence of the strongly "conservative"
Republican President; one Herbert Hoover.
After the Federal
Reserve's mission was largely ignored, and the Republican Party largely threw
us into a depression, Democrats tried to fix the with the Banking Act of 1933, better known as the
Glass-Steagall Act. Glass-Steagall created the
FDIC, and made different types of
banks work separately, so as to reduce conflicts of interest, and protect
depositors' money. See, neocons have this concept that, when you put your money
in the bank, it's no longer yours, but the bank's, to do with what they will.
Both Glass and Steagall were Democrats, and it was supported by most Democrats,
but Republicans and conservative Democrats not only voted against it, but spent
66 years trying to dismantle it, culminating in its repeal in 1999, which led
to the current economic meltdown, which is the deepest in 75 years, and which
will probably be the longest-lasting, as well.
Coming out of this will require a lot of reform, once we're stabilized,
and expect Republicans to scream against that as well.
Then, there's the
Social Security Act, which was passed in 1935, with almost all progressive and
moderate Democratic votes in favor, and almost no Republicans in favor. In
fact, Republicans tried to kill it after it was passed, and even blamed the
"Roosevelt Recession" of 1937-1938 on its passage. Though one Republican, Ronald Reagan,
deserves some credit for helping Democrats prepare the Social Security system
for the coming Baby Boomer bubble, for the most part, Republicans have mostly
tried to kill it. When they had full control of the government, they lobbied
hard to "privatize" the Social Security system, but failed to
convince enough of the public before we suffered through two major market
declines in eight years, and two major hits to our 401(k)s. And by the way,
Democrats created 401(k)s as a form of deferred compensation for workers of
modest means, but never intended for them to be used as retirement accounts. It
was Republicans who pushed those accounts as replacements for pensions. )
When it comes to
civil rights, as embodied by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the difference was
less between Republican and Democrat than it was right wing, and everyone else.
Northern Republicans largely worked with Northern Democrats to pass the bill, but
many of those Northern Republicans have become Democrats or independents in the
interim, while pretty much all of the Southern Democrats were subsequently
absorbed into the Republican Party.
Therefore, it can be said that, based on the current make up of the
parties, Republicans voted against Civil Rights and Democrats voted for it.
And I am just now
getting to Medicare.
never vote for a national health care program that covers everyone, because it
goes against their political DNA. And this is not a new phenomenon at all. Back
in 1961, Ronald Reagan warned that if we didn't stop Medicare from passing, we would all "spend our sunset years
telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in
America when men were free.” During the 1996 election, Republican candidate Bob
Dole waxed nostalgic for the old days, when he voted against Medicare because
"we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965." George H W Bush referred to
Medicare as "socialized medicine" in 1964, in an attempt to kill
it. And Barry Goldwater said, in 1964,
“Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets,
why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a
ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink?”
Do those objections
sound familiar? Except for being too polite to bring up Nazis and Hitler, they
mirror the same objections Republicans have to the health insurance reform
proposals currently before Congress. It's part of the pedigree, folks.
Imagine this country
without Social Security and Medicare. Yet, that's what the Republican Party
would like for us. Imagine this country now, if Jim Crow was still alive and
well. Where would minorities and women
be without affirmative action? Yet, that's what the current incarnation of the
Republican Party wanted for us. Imagine this country's economy, if not for all
of the economic benefits created by Democrats and fought against by
Republicans. Where would we be without the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and FSLIC,
mortgage insurance, Pell Grants and subsidized student loans? And yet,
Republicans were against those, too. Theyactively fought Head Start early
education for kids. They fought against the Americans with Disabilities Act.
They fought against providing medical care to the extremely poor. They've even
fought hard against health insurance for children. Worse, even after these programs were passed
by Democrats, Republicans continued to try to undermine and/or kill them. Hell;
when they were backed into a corner and had to be embarrassed into pushing a
plan to provide prescription drugs with Medicare coverage, they effectively
created an impossible "benefit" that
actually endangers the Medicare program, financially speaking.
This is what the
neocons currently dominating the Republican Party do, folks. They'll never
support health insurance reform, and it's little more than idealistic nonsense
to expect them to.
I know President Obama knows this, and I would like to think that most Democrats in Congress know this. So, the way I figure it, this is an attempt to undermine the Republican Party. Reform will pass, and it will be substantial. And when it's in place, and everyone's covered, how would you like to be one of those who voted against it?
Democrats will win this, and they will win this without Republicans. Period.