Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Very Confusing Political Landscape...

Well, the Senate's Healthcare bill is now the Law of the Land for better or worse..And now Senate Democrats are working on a "Fixer" bill to work out those compromises that made the House vote possible, which will likely last a least a week or so before the Senate votes on it, and since it is a Reconciliation vote they only need 51 which Majority Leader Harry Reid has very easily..

As I said in my previous post, this is hardly the last we'd heard this healthcare debate..13 State Attorney Generals are now suing the Federal Gov't over the new law claiming the "Individual Mandate" is unconstitutional. This claim has been made for some time and whether it is unconstitutional is debatable to most legal scholars and constitutional lawyers..I don't agree with most Democratic strategists that this is simply a stall tactic...Such a challenge I believe is necessary to convince many Americans of how good/bad this law is no matter what the courts say. Regardless, Republicans have made it clear that they will campaign on this Healthcare issue this November but many strategists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that this strategy may blow up in their faces..How?

Since Obama and the Democrats came into office, they have been seen as a seemingly disorganized, weak and unable to rule..But with the passage first of the Jobs bill (the first of several hopefully) and the Healthcare bill the other night have proven the Democrats can indeed rule and have finally achieved something important...Which presents the Republicans with a bit of a problem..Should they choose to make this the main issue this fall, they will have to confront the fact that the first effects of the new Law will take into fact by then and will likely be seen by a majority of Americans as positive..So when the Republicans yell and scream that they will repeal this Healthcare reform, there will be a great deal of Americans who will be upset by such talk...

Because according to various polls including the brand new polls out by the Pew Research Center, show that Americans understand that something must be done about our dysfunctional healthcare system..For example:

When asked how Americans think their health costs would change if the bill was passed they responded:
  • 51% believed their costs would Increase
  • 17% believed their costs would Decrease
  • 22% believed their costs would stay the same
  • 10% Didn't know

When asked how their health costs would change if no bill was passed they responded:

  • 63% believed their costs would Increase
  • 6% believed their costs would Decrease
  • 25% believed their costs would stay the same
  • 6% Didn't know

So when Democrats say that any bill is better than no bill there is some truth to that..But Pew also showed that most Americans also didn't like the bills being worked on by Congress but now that the bill is passed that doesn't matter so much anymore..

But Republicans don't seem to be giving up just yet..Even if the "Fixes" bill passes the Senate they are still going to campaign on repeal this supposed "Takeover of the Healthcare system"...but there are so problems with that idea..Firstly, even IF Republicans were able to gain control of both houses of Congress this fall and repealed the Healthcare Reform law, it would be vetoed by Obama and to be able to overide his veto would required 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress which would require the GOP to gain 110 House seats and 16 Senate seats...Such a landslide this November is incredibly unlikely unless the Democrats make some equally stupid political mood..But Republicans are claiming that this Healthcare battle end the same way at the polls as it did in '93/94..Except there's just one little problem with that theory..Unlike in '93/94, the Democrats actually passed the bill into Law! Therefore doing something Bill Clinton and Democratic Congressmen couldn't do..Whether people like the bill or not, this proves the Democrats can get at least some of their agenda accomplished while all the Republicans have accomplished is vote No and look like sticks in the mud..

But repealing the bill isn't the only tactic Republicans are trying..14 State Attorney Generals (including 1 Democrat) have now sued the Federal Gov't over this new law..Claiming the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Indeed there is definitely some logic behind such a belieft, the Federal gov't has never told its citizens they have to buy something or else pay a fine. But after some thought and research I have discovered there is a major flaw in this claim..But first some Context, the Individual Mandate stipulates that if someone makes enough a year to be able to afford health insurance but chooses not to they will be fined. How will they be fined? The IRS is being put in charge of enforcing this new law, and they will actually add the "fine" to your tax return..Now how does that support the Fed's position? Since the IRS is enforcing this mandate in the way it does, the Fine is actually more of a Tax and therefore is within the Federal Government's realm of authority. However, it is very unprecedented and still a little grey legally but most Legal scholars agree that the Courts will likely uphold the Individual Mandate in the end..

So where does that leave our poor and overpaid Congressman? Democrats have finally accomplished something but have vigorously divided the nation and its very likely that some are going to lose their jobs this November..so they must choose whether they want to parade their victory around or not talk about it..Republicans are in a bit of a pickle..Once the first wave of benefits hits Americans this year their constant chanting of Repeal Repeal is only going to alienate them from Indepedents and low-income Americans, but it will reinforce their support among the Conservative core the GOP and Tea Partiers..but their hopes of Repeal are very unlikely at this point so its a bit of a hallow campaign promise (but aren't they all?)..Not only that some moderate Republicans are also going to have to worry about Tea Party-backed candidates as well as their Democratic counterparts. This all makes for a very complicated and hard to predict Mid-term season..

Ain't American Politics grand?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

History have been made...One way or Another.

Tonight as I watch C-SPAN, I find myself wondering if someday I will look back of this day with pride or with disgust...These votes the House of Representatives (1st for the Senate Healthcare bill and than on the "Fixes") take tonight will be remember no matter who good or bad the bills turns out to be..

This bill, as my home state's biggest paper referred to it, is "OK"..and most definitely not perfect..and I strongly believe this bill should have waited until the American economy was stronger and could better handle the likely increased burden it will place on various elements of our economy..And more simply because we Americans have proved several times in our history that we are more open to social programs when our lives are more peaceful and times are good..But regardless the bill is up for a vote now and it appears all but certain it will pass (with several votes to spare) and we will soon see where it goes from here..There are several State Attorney Generals who claim they will immediately challenge this program as Unconstitutional and most Democrats are largely ignoring such a threat and how such an action will look to the American people is uncertain for now...One thing that is undeniable is this legislation will likely be the biggest policy issue this November and it will be a double-edged sword for the Democratic Party..

Why you ask? On the positive side, Democratic-leaning/Liberal voters will more likely to vote for their party because of it's success with this major piece of legislation...

On the Negative side, those who opposed this bill will be unified in their anger against Democrats..

Ultimately however, its the Independents who will decide those elections this November and their support for this bill is pretty mixed at the moment and this vote tonight will either convince them that the Democrats can govern (though a bit on the slow side) or they will see the Democrats are shoving unwanted burdens are them and will vote for those who stand against the Democrats...

How do I think it will all end? Even I'm not foolish enough to predict that..but mark my words, This is not the last we have heard of this "Reform"...From either side!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Senator Bunning...Further Proof Senate needs Reform

For the last few days, the United States Senate has been nearly brought to a grinding halt...by one man...Senator Bunning of Kentucky...The Senate was moving to further extend unemployment benefits to those millions in America who are in need of them and had something very rare in Washington these days, Bipartisanship...but that wasn't enough for Senator Bunning...He used his power as a Senator to hold the legislation...Why? Because it's a matter of principle, because this legislation isn't paid for and adds to the deficit...which sounds like a great thing for a Senator to do these days of over-spending and rising deficits...just one little problem with Sen. Bunning's "principles"...he just now seems to have found them.

Senator Bunning has had no problem voting for entitlements, war spending, and huge taxcuts in the past few years that were also not paid for...and not only that he actually touted them as some of his best votes...so why did he suddenly change his mind and find his "principles"? Could it be because he isn't running for re-election? Is it because he is seen by members of his own party as an embarassment/liability? We may never know..but what we do know is the Senator Bunning is a Hypocrite and for keeping unemployment benefits from millions of Americans he should be laughed out of the Senate Chamber...But he is just another example of why the United States Senate desperately needs Reform..

Senator Bunning was able to reek all this havoc because of an unwritten Senate rule allowing a single senator the power to hold legislation for any or no reason all for as long as he wants...Can you believe that? These overpaid, overrated and corrupt Bastards can bring the Senate to a grinding halt for no reason at all...How arrogant are these people? They talk about how much greater the President's power has grown in the last 50 years but few trully understand how powerful INDIVIDUAL senators are today...They have no term limits...they can increase their pay every year if they want (and they almost always do these days), they get Federally funded Healthcare insurance, and they can halt legislation simply because they feel like it and don't need any justification...If there was ever a time for people to wake up and see how corrupt the United States Senate is today this Moronic Senator from Kentucky's actions are it...

I've said it before and I'll say it again...if Americans think that the Senate is ever going to simply wake up and Reform themselves for the good of the country they are dreaming!