[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/23/art.pelosi.hcbillsigning.jpg caption="House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, backed by fellow Democrats, speaks at a press conference after the successful passage of health care reform in the House."]David Gewirtz | BIO
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute
Sunday was a strange day. It took me most of the day to figure out what it was I was feeling. Turns out it was respect. Respect for the Democrats. How weird is that?
I had pretty much written the 110th Congress off as being completely ineffectual. Weak. Useless. I was ashamed of them. After all, how can you have an unbeatable majority and still lose on all your key issues?
But this weekend I saw a Democratic party that Lyndon Johnson, that wonderfully nasty old wheeler-dealer, would have been proud of.
The Dems wanted to pass health care and by golly, they actually did.
Can you imagine? The Dems actually doing something? And doing something hard. Doing something that Presidents and political parties have tried to do for a hundred years. And our Congress did it? Those woosies? Shocking.
Now, before I sing their praises too much, I need to say a few things about this health care bill. First and foremost, based on my analysis in How To Save Jobs, I'm convinced this isn't the full solution we need. As long as health care is linked to employment, and as long as every company in America has health insurance as a component of Cost of Goods Sold (unlike most industrialized nations, and even our third-world competitors), the health care problem won't be solved.
And I'm also concerned about how long some of these provisions will take to kick in. In six months, some big benefits kick in. There will be no more lifetime limits on medical coverage. People who have expensive conditions can no longer be dropped from coverage.
My concern is that just before that six month clock triggers, the insurance companies will go on a rampage, dumping even marginally questionable customers and raising rates like drunks on a bender.
I don't know if the bill prevents that, but even so, I wouldn't trust those companies with my life. Oh, wait. I already do.
What about all those people who will now be required to buy health care? I know some of that doesn't kick in for a while, but what about all those people on the financial edge already? Not the truly poor, but the middle class families on the edge. Where will they get the extra money to buy into mandatory insurance? It's very troubling.
But don't let these concerns diminish the accomplishment of the Democrats. Many Republicans decried the last minute tactics practiced by Pelosi, Reid and Obama to pull the off vote, but I applaud them.
I want to see our leaders pull out all the stops for something that can help tens of millions of Americans. I want to see them threaten, cajole, bargain, terrify, and bully lawmakers into submission. Congress-critters are lazy creatures by nature and the only way they're going to move is if they've gotten a swift kick in the bum.
On that topic, wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on the wall in the last hours of the Stupak attack? Did that dude look like a whipped puppy when he finally caved? You gotta wonder what, exactly, finally pushed him over the edge.
Bravo Mr. President! Bravo Madam Speaker! We didn't elect you to be warm, friendly, and to be loved. We elected you to fix epic, intractable, long-standing problems before it all goes to hell. When you're fighting the twin demons of extremely powerful vested interests and a fully insane opposing party, we want to see that can of whoop-ass opened up.
Now, a word for the Republicans. You guys used to be the voice of reason. Back when the President first started this debate, he asked you to play along. You pulled down your pants and showed him your posterior. That is not how you do bi-partisan.
It's probably too late for you to recall your patriotic past. Now, all you can think about is revenge. But remember this: you are public servants and your job is to put America first.
Maybe if you think about that, just a little bit, you might try to find some area of common (non-loony) ground and work with the Democrats.
After all, if you don't, remember this: Pelosi's learned to hit hard, she's tasted blood, and she likes it. Play nice or next month, it might be your head on a pike outside the Capital building, next to Stupak's still cooling body.
I still can't get over the idea that I actually respect Nancy Pelosi for something. But it's true. Prissy Nancy just made the history books and she earned it.
Follow David on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz.
Editor’s note: David Gewirtz is Director of the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the ZATZ magazines. He is a leading Presidential scholar specializing in White House email. He is a member of FBI InfraGard, the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and has been a guest commentator for the Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He is a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley extension, a recipient of the Sigma Xi Research Award in Engineering and was a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters.
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