BY KENNY BELFORD
As September approaches, so does the moment of decision on real health care reform. The real contest starts when members of Congress and the Senate return to Washington.
In only a few weeks we’ll know if the White House and Democrats in Congress and the Senate have a winning end-game strategy. Signs are beginning to indicate they do.
After months of escalating fear mongering by Republicans it’s beginning to sink in that bipartisan attempts are just like trying to push a wet rope. Ain’t gonna happen.
Republicans understand that if this measure passes, it’s permanent, just like Social Security, and will never go away. That’s their greatest fear and why there are no lies – even ones so absurd they get outted immediately – they’re unwilling to spread. They’ll vote no. Every single one of them will vote no. No attempts at compromise will alter that reality.
So it seems the White House and Democrat leadership have slowly, begrudgingly arrived at the reality that to prevail they’ll have to go it alone.
But it’s important for those of us in the stands to correctly read the scoreboard. The votes are in the camp in Congress, so the test will be the Senate. There are several numbers [scores] that are being tossed around … 50, 51, 60, 70, 75 and 80. Only two are significant.
The new Republican baloney they’re serving up is that the bill should have 70, 75 or 80 votes [out of 100] in the Senate. There’s no basis in reality for those numbers. It’s simply an attempt by Republicans to lower the perceived legitimacy of the bill if it passes by a lesser number.
The first real number to watch for is 60. That’s the number of senators that need to be willing to cast their vote to block a Republican attempt to filibuster the bill to death. Cross that mark and the ball is on the goal line. Democratic leaders just need the Blue Dogs to stay in the pack and not allow a Republican filibuster, then they’re free to cast a “No” vote on the actual bill, although there will be a day of reckoning for them if they do.
The next number is 50. For the health care reform bill to pass, including a public option, the Democrats just need to muster 50 votes out of 100 in the Senate. There are 60 Democratic senators, so 50 of those simply need to do what’s right. That would potentially create 50 votes for, and 50 votes against.
The president of the Senate would then be called in to cast the tie-breaking vote. That’s Vice President Joe Biden. That’s 51 votes for, 50 against. It passes. The Senate operates under a majority rule, and it doesn’t matter if it passes by one vote, or 99 votes. The majority rules.
Quickly Americans will learn that there are no death camps for senior citizens. No rationing, no loss of choice of doctors, no death panels, no illegal aliens getting a free ride, no federal abortion program – just affordable health insurance for the 47 million without it, lowered premiums for the rest, and a choice of options not now available.
History will record that when this morally responsible issue came before our lawmakers, it was the Republican Party that fought to block it, just as they did with worker safety measures, child labor laws, product and drug safety measures, Social Security, anti-trust safeguards, voter rights, civil rights and legions of other ethical issues.
The end result will be two good things: Affordable health care for all, and a further branding of Republicans for what they really are.
– Kenny Belford lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer