Okay, okay, so it looks exactly like the Democrats have snatched defeat straight out of the jaws of victory, and President Obama’s primary domestic project–major healthcare reform—has already crashed on the craggy shores of Massachusetts’ Plymouth Rock, with not one Democratic lifeguard in sight. But America really needs solid healthcare reform, no matter what the $100 million ad campaign to tarnish and defeat it said.
African Americans certainly need it with that 16-17% unemployment rate, that much too high index of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, third worldly infant mortality rates and a lowered life expectancy than whites and virtually all other Americans. Coupled with the added facts that Blacks have double the uninsurability rate than whites, with nearly half of the 45 million uninsured in America being Blacks and Latinos (with over 23% being Black), and African Americans already accounting for those least likely to find insurance when they don’t already have it, the African American population is little short of desperate for healthcare reform asap.
Well, here’s a bet to lay your money down for: President Obama and the Democrats are going to pass significant healthcare reform legislation within the next month or two, maybe even within the next three weeks.
Sure, the congressional Democrats right now look like they are doing just what President Obama recently urged them not to do: head for the hills. Several have decided to retire, like Chris Dodd and Evan Bye (4 Democrats and 7 Republicans have announced retirements), and many others look like the proverbial deer in the headlights or the ostrich heads in the sand hole. But looks can be deceiving. President Obama certainly has the testicular fortitude to advance forward against severe odds–he got elected didn’t he? Some of his Democratic colleagues do too. The issue right now is what politics always comes down to, the count. Are there enough courageous Democrats still left who are willing to do what America needs more than they are afraid of the Republican no-train?
As a political analyst who’s been around for a little bit, I say yes there are, and yes they will.
The choices come down to doing nothing, with your 59 vote Senate majority and your 25-plus House majority, or manning-up and voting for what’s right and true. Doing nothing, the Republicans win in their campaign of no and profile every Democrat up for re-election as a can’t do anything legislator, a slacker who must be replaced. Pass healthcare reform and Democrats keep the votes of those who need to see something actually done–a real wind of change. The folks who are not going to vote for Democrats have already made up their minds, essentially, so Democrats can’t lose what they never had. Doing nothing and showing no stomach for a fight disinspires one’s allies. The old mantra ‘no guts, no glory’ really applies right here, right now.
How can the Dems do it? The House can hold its nose and vote to approve the Senate version. The bill never needs to go back to the Senate then and be filibustered to death. The Senate version has already been passed. That gets the bill on President Obama’s desk. The legislators can also use a parliamentary trick called Reconciliation to first revise some of the more onerous sections out (like Ben Nelson’s Cornhusker Kickback) and present it back to both the Senate and the House for a straight up-or-down vote, needing a simple majority to be successful (i.e., 51 of 100 Senators). Reconciliation is generally used to get sections of bills to comply with deficit reduction, but if Pelosi and Reed can really do their jobs, Reconciliation can work in this context. The Republicans have already started lobbying in the media against what they call the ‘political nuclear option,’ but what is really interesting is that the Republicans used the exact ploy to get former President Bush’s tax cuts passed a few years ago against sustained Democratic opposition. Clearly, however, they have short memories or they simply do not believe that what’s good for the goose is just as good for the gander in politics.
The point is, the Democrats can get healthcare reform done, and done now. My practical bet is, they will. President Obama is no wilting rose. The bloom is still fresh. Does anyone feel me on this? America, you will get what you need, and that’s a promise he made and will keep. Amen.
David Horne, Ph.D., is executive director of the California African American Political Economic Institute (CAAPEI) located at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

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