Republican obstructionism to blame for health care reform flaws

February 15, 2010

In response to Michael DeCicco's letter "Health bill stagnation is not Republicans' fault" (Readers respond Feb. 13), I beg to differ. If the Democrats could get an up or down vote on the bill in the Senate, the Nebraska and Louisiana deals would not have been made. From the start, the Republican strategy has been to kill any reform any way possible. Remember Sen. Jim DeMint's comment that health care would be President Obama's Waterloo? Or Sen. Judd Gregg's memo to his Republican colleagues on how to stop reform? The Republican commitment to kill reform forced the Democrats to maintain a 60 vote super majority to defeat Republican filibusters on every procedural step along the way to a vote on the bill in the Senate. I don't defend the Nebraska or Louisiana deals, but let's be honest -- every Senator and Congressman looks for advantages for themselves and their state. The latest shameless gambit by Sen. Richard Shelby to force the government to spend millions of dollars in Alabama is just another example. Pointing to the Nebraska and Lou isiana deals is a red herring. If Republicans would allow an up or down vote on the bill (and every other action in the Senate) with a simple majority, neither "deal" would have been created.

Mr. DeCicco recounts the current Republican talking points -- C-Span, Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu. These talking points have replaced the death panels and related summer talking points that have been proven, repeatedly, to be lies. And the one idea that Republicans continually repeat they have to have -- tort reform -- has been determined by the Congressional Budget Office to have minimal impact on cost savings or meaningful impact on health reform. It is another red herring -- the Republicans have an endless supply of them which they use relentlessly to create fear and derail constructive discussion. Remember -- the strategy is to kill reform any way possible.

There will be a televised discussion of ideas on February 25. Let's see who offers meaningful ideas for reform that will reduce costs and insure the millions of uninsured in this country. Let's see who offers ideas to boost profits of insurance companies and who offers ideas to help Americans struggling without insurance or struggling to make premium payments. When that discussion is complete, let's see the Republicans in the Senate allow an up or down vote on health care reform without a filibuster or obstructionist procedural tactics. All citizens deserve to have this very important issue decided by an up or down vote by a majority of their representatives.

Kathleen Farno, Lutherville

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