There are a variety of impediments to the House simply taking the available Senate health care text and passing it. There’s Bart Stupak’s anti-abortion block. There’s fainthearted moderate types. And then, apparently, there’s angry liberal Raul Grijalva:
For instance, Grijalva said, why not send the Senate individual bills that would, among other things, nix the “Cadillac” tax or close the donut hole, pressuring the Senate to deal with each provision separately?
“If the Senate chooses not to close the donut hole, that’s their damn problem,” Grijalva said. “They’ve had it too easy. One vote controls everything. Collectively, we’re tired of that.”
That’s pernicious nonsense. If the Senate doesn’t close the doughnut hole, that’s a problem for seniors who need medicine. If the Senate doesn’t force insurance companies to offer insurance to men and women on equal terms, that’s a problem for women who want health insurance. If the Senate doesn’t expand Medicaid, that’s a problem for poor people. If the Senate doesn’t establish regulated, subsidized insurance exchanges that’s a problem for the self-employed, for employees of small businesses, and for everyone who’s nervous about maybe losing their insurance in the future.
Absolutely nothing is the Senate’s damn problem. Senators are fat and happy. Nothing bad happens to Joe Lieberman if health reform dies. Nor to Ben Nelson. Nor to Kent Conrad. Nor to anyone else. US Senators are wealthy, older individuals with good salaries, great health insurance, and a good pension plan. Failing to pass reform does not punish them.
And believe me, nobody is more frustrated with the Senate and its procedural rules and its supermajority and its general BS and self-importance. But if Grijalva feels the need to take out some anger on the Senate, he should pass health care then go find a particularly annoying Senator and punch him in the face. Just—bam!—pop him. Assuming he picked a reasonable target I might well applaud. And something like that—a good punch to the face, a good kick in the shins—that punishes someone. Or more constructively, primary campaigns against people who fail to get on board an agenda of modernizing the rules would actually accomplish something. But snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to take the most plausible path to universal health care doesn’t punish the Senate, it punishes the American people. This is no time for ego trips.