As I've been following the health care reform debate, the media frame the three House bills as basically phony documents. It's like that branch of the government is a front group that pays for an apartment that nobody occupies and only lives to be bossed around by the House of Lords. And when it comes to the Senate, the media only bow down to the mighty Baucus Dogs. All I keep hearing is politicians wishing that Ted Kennedy was able to be involved in the health care reform process. Republicans are actually saying that -- guys like John McCain.
Well then, he should honor Kennedy's legacy and negotiate in good faith, but that will never happen:
Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, John McCain argued that the real hindrance to health-care reform is the absence of Sen. Ted Kennedy. "It's huge that he's absent," McCain said, "not only because of my personal affection for him, but because I think the health-care reform might be in a very different place today."
This stuff just isn't plausible. Kennedy was around in 1994 and there was no deal. More to the point, Kennedy's committee, the HELP Committee, has passed health-care reform. Kennedy's staff, as you might expect, led their effort. But neither Kennedy nor his staff can make the deals for another committee. If Kennedy were in the Senate now, health care would be exactly where it is: Through Ted Kennedy's Committee and stuck in the morass of Max Baucus's Gang of Six.
Meanwhile, if John McCain wants to honor Ted Kennedy, he shouldn't just talk the guy up. He should play a constructive role in passing the legislation that Kennedy considered the cause of his life. McCain says that Kennedy "had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions," but surely McCain can decide what concessions those should be and present them to Max Baucus — or the New York Times — in exchange for his vote.
McCain and the Republicans would be playing the same games with or without Ted having an active role right now, but his power would be in dealing with the American people. He'd be pounding the talk shows, town halls and radio airwaves with solid reasoning behind his health care reforms. And President Obama needs good surrogates to go out there and explain to Americans why we need health care reform.
I think we all miss Ted and wish he were knocking heads in Congress and in the media, but Chris Dodd has taken over his committee and they released a bill that was crafted by Kennedy's staff which I assume is one that he's in favor of. So we have four bills done and a fifth one that's in limbo but should be done soon. Why is it that the only bill that matters to the Villagers is the Baucus/Senate Finance Committee bill? Why is that the Holy Grail? Would some talking head at least explain to America what is contained in the HELP bill? Is that too frakkon' much to ask?