Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Might the Senate Have the Lead in Health Care?, No GOP Monopoly on Stupidity, Chris Daggett for Governor

Could the House Hold Up Health Care?
With the Senate apparently ready to move a bill, possibly by tomorrow, there is a real possibility of a floor debate on the Baucus bill, or some combined variant of the three health care bills that have passed out of Senate committees. It appears likely that the bill will pass the Finance committee with complete or near complete Democratic support and at most 1 Republican votes (Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine is the only possibility and she has been mum on her final vote to this point.)

The path forward in the Senate is tenuous to be sure -- other than Snowe and possibly moderate Republican Maine counterpart Susan Collins, there is very little prospect for any GOP support on the floor and an assured opposition fillibuster attempt. This essentially means that Democrats will need to hold at least 58 and at most 60 of the 60 Democratic and Independent Senators, including moderates such as Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberamn of Connecticut.

All that said, there is a very real chance that the Senate may be in the lead here. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continues to promise a floor vote "soon", but the nature of the bill and the coalition to pass it remain very unclear...liberals such as Pelosi seem unwilling to accept a bill without a public option and Blue Dogs remain firmly opposed to such an option. Without bridging this divide, it seems very difficult to make the math add up.

So will we get a health care bill this year? I still think it is more likely than not -- Democrats and the White House have far too much invested to just let it fall apart...but this late in the debate, there are a lot of unanswered questions.

Stupidity Knows No Party
Well, it didn't take the Democrats too long to have their own Joe Wilson moment. Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL) statement that "If you get sick in America, the Republican plan is this: die quickly" is a disgraceful and unfortunate statement that lowers the level of debate.

I happen to be to the left of almost everyone in congress on health care reform, preferring an Australian or French-style system with guaranteed, government funded basic coverage for all and unsubsidized, taxed private alternatives for higher levels of coverage. But I don't think that those who legitimately believe in a lower level of government involvement are trying to kill our citizens.

Such a statement is just as absurd as ex-Governor and current pain-in-the-ass Sarah Palin's assertion that the Democratic plan would set up "death panels".

Democrats would do well and do good by taking the high road here. A unequivocal condemnation of Rep. Grayson's statement is in order.

Let's try to have an adult discussion.

Daggett for Governor
As a resident of New Jersey, I have agonized for months about my vote in the upcoming Governor's race.

On the one hand, we have incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, who has failed on many accounts. He has failed to tackle corruption and pay-to-play effectively. He has failed to dent the bloated and ineffective New Jersey bueracracy. He has failed on making New Jersey a more business-friendly climate. He has failed at property tax reform, with oppressive property tax rates still choking the middle class and putting the American Dream out of reach for millions of New Jersians. And, to top it all off, Governor Corzine epitomizes the Goldman-Sachs wing of the Democratic party that I have come to abhor in the financial crisis of the past year.

On the other hand, we have Republican challenger Chris Christie. A Bush Justice Department veteran (1 strike against him already!), Christie would veto gay marriage, outlaw abortion and appears to have a one-point government reform plan -- cut spending blindly and hope it all works out.

To me, both choices were untenable. I couldn't figure out which of the two evils was lesser.

Fortunately, I don't have just two choices.

Chris Daggett is a serious man with common-sense views. He has presented a common-sense plan to reform the tax structure in New Jersey, reducing reliance on property taxes and reducing corporate taxes by eliminating sales tax exemptions that benefit few working New Jersians and are a major source of revenue leakage. Daggett favors common-sense individual liberties, including support of gay marriage and abortion rights. And Daggett has real credentials with decades of executive experience in state government.

I realize that the odds are very high Daggett will not win. Some will say I am throwing away my vote. I personally think voting for Corzine or Christie would be throwing away my vote.

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