Current Events

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Shutdown, Cancer and Children’s Health -- Hostage Taking?

For those who have just returned from outer space, let me bring you up to date.  In late September the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would fund the U.S. Government for the coming fiscal year, except for the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”   They sent this bill to the U.S. Senate.   Having failed 42 times to get the Senate to consider House bills that would repeal Obamacare, the Tea Party Republicans persuaded the Republican leadership to try this defunding strategy.   The Senate promptly passed its own bill that would fund the government, including Obamacare, and sent it to the House.   The House leadership refused to bring it to a vote.  On October 1 the government shut down except for essential services like the military and air traffic control.   Many Republicans went on TV to say the public might not even notice the shutdown of our “oversized and wasteful government,” except maybe the 800,000 federal employees who were furloughed.  Unfortunately many people did notice, including a busload of WW II vets who had come to see the WW II memorial and the 200 cancer victims who were supposed to be enrolled in an NIH experimental cancer research study, which was their last hope for a cure – and for survival.
Sensing a public relations disaster, the Republicans got right to work writing bills to fund a few specific programs like NIH cancer research and staffing for the National Park Service, which oversees the WW II Memorial and such vacation spots as Yellowstone.  They hoped to remove the embarrassment of the obvious and immediate effects of the shutdown, while holding out for some “compromise” that would effectively end the Affordable Care Act, a law of the land which had been passed by both houses of Congress, signed by the President and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Republicans put on a full court press public relations campaign. 
Poor Harry Reid.  The Senate Majority Leader was questioned by a CNN reported who wanted to know why he couldn’t sympathize with the cancer plagued children who had hoped to enroll in the NIH study.  Why had he refused to bring the House bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote to give these children a chance at life?  Reid did O.K.  He said he had to look at the larger picture, including the 1100 people in his state at an Air Force base who didn’t know when they might see a paycheck again.  And he said he was surprised that a person of her obvious intelligence would even ask such a question.  Then he moved on.  There were better answers.  He might have said that he was deeply concerned about the children who had hoped to be treated at NIH and equally concerned about the millions of children who have no access to health care now but will have it under Obamacare, if he and the other Democrats refuse to capitulate.
Or he might have compared the Republican tactics to hostage taking.  “Open the city gates or your daughter dies!”  There have been similar charges from the Republican   --  with a straight face

No comments:

Post a Comment