What Would Ted Do? It's Time for House Dems to Follow Their Lion and Pass Health Care
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"But the key to his legacy is not that he is determined to stick up for his principles. It's that he is willing to compromise on them." That's Time Magazine in 2006.
"Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire said that one of Kennedy's great strengths was the ability to separate his often fiery liberal rhetoric from his behind-the-scenes desire to compromise. Because of the respect he commanded among Democrats, he could persuade the left wing of his party to support his concessions." That's Judd Gregg in USA TODAY in 2009.
In eulogy after eulogy Democrats waxed about how Senator Ted Kennedy was the master negotiator and compromiser. Ted never lost site of the dream, fought like hell, but accepted the realities of legislating and would pass an imperfect bill -- ready to come back the next day -- and the next day -- and chip away -- until he got the full loaf. Even if it took years and years.
Democrats -- get a grip.
If Senator Ted Kennedy were alive today, he would be imploring House Democrats to immediately approve the historic and imperfect Senate version of the Health Care Bill -- word for word -- without any return to the Senate and their 41 No votes. Get the Senate version onto Obama's desk tomorrow -- before "Trucker" gets within 100 miles of DC. Democrats -- stand on the steps of the Capital and celebrate.
Senator Ted Kennedy -- politician -- would understand walking away now -- would be a resounding defeat for Democrats. Senator Ted Kennedy -- legislator -- would recognize the Senate Health bill, with all its flaws and compromises - would bring 31 million Americans into the health care fold and eliminate scores of unsavory Insurance company practices. Senator Ted Kennedy -- Democrat -- would know -- in the long run passing the Senate version of the health care bill would be a net positive and far outweigh the alternative.
Scrapping health care -- after a year of effort -- would signal retreat -- again -- for Democrats. Going back to the drawing board would display a gross overreaction to a single poorly run election with a deeply flawed candidate. The "scrap-it" alternative hands Republicans talking points that will surely lead to an even more devastating November. You think taking some heat now for passing an imperfect Health Bill is a cause for concern? Get ready for an unrelenting barrage of "do nothing Democrats" , "we told you so" "we saved the nation," "give us a chance to do Health Care right" -- charges from the Republicans.
The health care hysteria has been successfully fueled by Republicans and Democrats will finish their dirty work by folding. If Jay Leno were doing his man on the street routine -- asking local citizens of Massachusetts why they were uneasy about health care -- and what alternative approaches they would suggest -- it would quickly become apparent average voters were reacting to the messy process, the vague ideas about the plan and less to real specifics.
What does it do for me? A common lament. Well, the House and Senate Democrats will have a year to explain what the Senate version of the Health Care bill will do for the average citizen. And they will have a year to work out some kinks and maybe even pass some improvements. But only if the bill gets passed and onto Obama's desk.
No doubt Senator Ted Kennedy is rolling in his grave -- but if you listen very closely -- he isn't sighing -- he is saying "sign it."