Members of Congress are very popular, one might even suggest that they’re insanely popular as evidenced by their re-election rate (somewhere above 80 percent the last time I checked).
People who wring their hands over Washington gridlock and the subbasement approval of Congress are disingenuous. Stopping wrong-headed actions is a positive action if your constituents approve. Americans love gridlock when it prevent programs, expenditures and changes of which they disapprove. The filibuster, by its very nature, is a tool of gridlock, a parliamentary conceit that allows a single individual to selfishly block the will of the majority. We cannot applaud the fictional Mr. Smith or the very real Ms. Davis on one hand for blocking bad legislation and condemn other legislatures for standing up against good legislation.
Which brings me to the Affordable Health Care Act. This past week President Barack Hussein Obama blinked. Robert Reich writes:
The official reason given by the Administration for delaying, by one year, the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers with more than 50 full-time workers provide insurance coverage or face fines, is that employers need more time to implement it. The unofficial reason has more to do with the Republicans’ incessant efforts to bulldoze the law.
That may be true, hell, I have no reason to think it is not true, but that is beside point. The ACA was flawed on day one, and while this battle may have much more to do with opposition to President Obama than then details of the ACA, the compromises simply made the ACA a crippled law that no amount of health care can save.
The longer the Affordable Care Act is delayed, the more time Republicans have to demonize it before average Americans receive its benefits and understand its importance. The GOP raged against Social Security in 1935 and made war on Medicare in 1965. But in each case Americans soon realized how critical they were to their economic security, and refused to listen.
2012, 2013 and 2014 were not, are not and will not be 1935 and 1965. The makeup of Congress today is different from the make-up nearly 40 and 70 years ago. The President simply blew his chance as universal health care. The ACA lacked the vision (and the public funding) of either Social Security or Medicare.
Can we elect a Congress next year, or a president in 2014, that will have that vision to salvage the bits of the ACA that are worth saving and bring the United States in line with the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to universal health care?
Yes we can.
I’m less than hopeful.