Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Requiem for Change

And so it was that, after months and months of negotiations, a Tea Party Republican who once posed nude in a magazine was elected to the United States Senate to kill health insurance reform. Will the House just pass the Senate version, so no additional votes will be required in the Senate? The word coming from Washington is no. Will the Senate pass an amended compromise in the couple of weeks before "Senator Brown" is sworn in? Again, the word coming from Washington is no. Will the Democrats use the process of "reconciliation" to pass only budget-related measures (which does nothing about denials of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, for example) by a simple majority, which they still hold? Apparently not.

I am literally in tears as I write this. Senator Kennedy said over and over that hope endures and the dream never dies. But now his Senate seat will be used to kill the dreams of 30 million people who would have had insurance if health reform were passed. And I still will have nothing to offer the people who call me desperate, looking for answers. The stock prices of health insurance companies skyrocketed yesterday on the belief that health reform would die, and it looks like they were right.

How do we keep this dream alive? If the voters of Massachusetts would not do it out of respect for you and your legacy -- your life's most important work, you've said -- then how can we convince enough members of Congress to do it for them?

Right now, I am grieving. Hopefully, somebody will get real and do what they have to do -- the House can pass the Senate bill and it will be done. The legislation could be pushed through before Brown is sworn in.

I'll tell you what. If health reform dies, that is the end of President Obama's presidency. If he can't get this through, he has no chance with financial regulation, climate change, education reform. All he will have is the ability to cut taxes because that is all the Republicans will let him do.

So not only do we lose health care, but we lose what might have been a transformative presidency. We lose the dream of real change. I am in mourning. Jennifer

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