Posts Tagged ‘Public Option’

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THE RINGER

October 14, 2009

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Meet Sen. Olympia Snowe.

She voted for the Baucus Bill, going against her fellow Republicans, but made it clear that this “…was her vote today,” “…tomorrow is a different day…” and could be “…a different vote.” The now-famous “Public Option” amendment was not in this bill, which many think is the reason Snowe said “yes.”

I disagree. (I know how surprised you must be.)

Olympia Snowe could very well be President Obama’s “ringer” in this game of healthcare reform.

StethescopeResearching her history, one finds that our President and Sen. Snowe have some things in common. Neither came from privilege. Both were raised, in part, by family members other than their biological parents. Both have fathers who were born in other countries. Both are highly educated, earning multiple degrees from different colleges and universities. Her voting record certainly indicates pragmatism in decision-making – a trait our President has demonstrated often.

And both want real healthcare reform.

The Senior Senator’s voting record (approximately 58% with Republicans) is not only good for our President, but is also good for Maine and the rest of our country. This 62 year old legislator keeps her thoughts very close to the vest, rarely gives interviews, and even walks up the back stairs when entering the capitol building, to avoid the media.

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I believe the reason Sen. Snowe voted for the Baucus Bill was to get it out of committee and move the process forward. She knows, as does everyone involved, the real “battle” will take place “in conference,” which is still three steps away, as I illustrate in From Bill to Law.

Her “yes” vote also has one other very important attribute: it will probably open the door for other moderate Republicans to vote against party lines in subsequent votes. This will give real healthcare reform – which will include a robust “Public Option” – the momentum it needs to become law before the end of the year.

Our President is not only aware of these probabilities, he’s counting on them becoming realities. As I said in Strategy Over Blather, congress will fight the “battles” and he will win the “war.” If he needs to step into the battles, he will do so, privately.

We’re already further along in the process than we’ve been since 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt – a two-term Republican – first introduced healthcare reform running for a third term as, believe it or not, a Progressive candidate in the Progressive Party of 1912. This was their position on “Health,” November 5, 1912:

TRoosevelt“We favor the union of all the existing agencies of the Federal Government dealing with the public health into a single national health service without discrimination against or for any one set of therapeutic methods, school of medicine, or school of healing with such additional powers as may be necessary to enable it to perform efficiently such duties in the protection of the public from preventable diseases as may be properly undertaken by the Federal authorities, including the executing of existing laws regarding pure food, quarantine and cognate subjects, the promotion of vital statistics and the extension of the registration area of such statistics, and co-operation with the health activities of the various States and cities of the Nation.”

Further reading of the platform reveals how long the Republican Party has been in the grip of big corporations. This “grip” on our country’s politics came to a head during Republican President Herbert Hoover’s term (1929-1933) and resulted in the Great Depression. Sound familiar?

As a well-read student of history, President Obama knows all-too-well what to do to avoid the errors of the past when making sweeping social change.

So does Olympia Snowe.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – Sen. Snowe and I also have some commonality: both of us have Greek parents and we were both baptized in the Greek Orthodox faith.

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FROM BILL TO LAW

October 1, 2009

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I’m starting to understand the frustration that our President must feel when he hears some of the uneducated, and even stupid comments coming from congressional members on healthcare. And if you believe some of the punditry, you would think the healthcare bill will be law next week. It’s understandable how lay-persons can be swayed to believe some of this gibberish.

As I watch all of the back and forth, it occurs to me that very few understand how a bill becomes law. Before anyone can discuss the very complicated issue of healthcare and the needed changes, one must first know the process. It’s exhaustive, especially when there is so much political opposition to changing the way we currently distribute healthcare in this country.

As of today, October 1st, we are far away from a healthcare bill. When you hear people say the bill includes this and doesn’t include that, they’re wrong. There is no single bill – only drafts of committee bills.

Here’s how a final healthcare bill (or any bill) moves through congress, step by step. First: all the steps.

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There are five committees looking at healthcare reform. Three in the House and two in the Senate. This is where we are right now. (Please note: I found these charts early in September. The deadline set by Sen. Baucus came and went, and the current draft did not include the co-ops seen on the chart.)

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The 23-member Baucus Committee ran a couple of what I’ll call “trial” votes earlier this week to “take a pulse” on the public option within his committee. The first vote resulted in an 8-15 vote against the draft. Five Democrats voted against it. An amendment was added, “softening” the public option, and another vote was taken. This time, it was 10-13 against. The draft gained two more Democrats. No Republicans voted for either draft.

None of these preliminary votes mean anything. We are still four big steps away from a bill reaching the President’s desk.

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So take a deep breath, fans of the public option. As I said in Strategy Over Blather, we will prevail.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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STRATEGY OVER BLATHER

July 11, 2009

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When the current battle over healthcare is over, there will be choices – which will include a robust Public Option.

How do I know?

The same way our President knows.

Numbers.

This is why you don’t see him out there everyday going head-to-head with media, pundits, and his political opposition. As I’ve written before in Checkers and Chess, No Beef and Faith Trumps Fear, they keep underestimating his ability to size up the debate, learn all he can about the issue and develop the winning strategy that serves the needs of the country, not the politicans’.  

There are enough congressional members who support the President’s healthcare reform plan to get it passed. These are the same people that already passed the Cap and Trade Bill and the Stimulus Bill. The members who opposed those bills are almost exactly the same people who are now opposing the current proposal for healthcare reform. They couldn’t block passage of the others, and the same will be true this time.

You’d never know this watching 24/7 cable news channels or listening to the talking heads on the radio.

They want you to believe this “battle” could go either way.

Listening to some, you’d think that the opposition has enough power to stop the legislation – they don’t. The House will pass the bill without too much resistance. There are now fifty-eight Democratic and two Independent Senators who vote with the Dems 99% of the time. Even if you discount some of the “hesitant” conservative Democrats, the numbers are still there. Contrary to what you may hear, there are Republicans who also want this bill to pass – with a Public Option.

Yet, the debate goes on.

You’d think the country was equally divided on the Public Option issue – not true. Over 70% want a Public Option. Others argue the Public Option is no different than “Single Payer,” (a totally government run healthcare system with no private plans). Again, not true. It is ONE of the choices, not the ONLY choice. There are and will continue to be many choices, including private healthcare company plans. Those who try to equate the two are concerned that the Public Option may eventually become “Single Payer.” This is a possibility, and maybe a probability, but it would be the will of the people, not Washington, that makes it happen.

By now, we’ve all heard the false argument that people in other countries with government run healthcare systems do not receive quality care, and are coming here for care. Again, not true. In fact, the opposite is true. American healthcare companies are pricing themselves out of the market and businesses are exploring overseas options  for healthcare for their employees – senior management included. For example, a comparison of our healthcare system vs. Canada’s  reveals that the quality is at least as good, and in some cases, better. As is true with any healthcare system, both have challenges. I understand commentators need to fill time, but all that blather makes me want to take a nap.

Media and pundits are playing right into Obama’s strategy by presenting all the arguments for and against his plan. Perfect. Let them fight the battles, and when they’re done, the President will address the country in the final stages of the debate, and convince more than enough legislators to vote his way.

They fight the battles – he wins the war.

Strategy over blather.

What a novel concept.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com