Stand Up to the Republicans!

Badge - republicanTo the Editor:

My recent writings have focused on the problems in the health care system and why the Democrats don’t seem to be making things any better. It seems that despite their large majority and control in both houses of Congress and the White House have not given them the courage to push for the reforms they were voted in to create. What’s worse, is that instead of passing real reform, or even doing nothing, they seem to be allowing and backing many of the issues that the Republicans are bringing to the table. This comes even when the Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they have no interest in working with the Democrats to make real reform.

The fact that no Republican in the Senate is open to a public option for health care shows that as a caucus they will not help the Democrats, or anyone except themselves.

Meanwhile, in recent days, some of the Republicans’ favorite issues like anti-abortion reform, abstinence only education and guns are gaining momentum.

On the abortion front, while Republicans refuse to pass any meaningful health care reform, they have decided that if any reform passes, it will include restrictions on abortion procedures, even if the person has private coverage. This move is almost as ridiculous as the sudden concern for Medicare from Republicans. For 40 years, Republicans have railed against health care in the same way that they are now criticizing the public option. They don’t want government intervention, and they think the free markets will be hurt. Now with abortion, they don’t want the government involved in health care, but they do want the government to regulate what a woman does with her body. Democratic representatives need to stand up against this move and not allow an abortion issue to affect the ultimate outcome of health care reform. For one, women have the right to do what they want with their body. For another, 45 million people lack health insurance, and 45,000 die every year because of their inadequate coverage. An issue like abortion that doesn’t affect anyone except the woman and possibly her immediate friends or family, should be left to her, not legislated on.

But instead, the Republicans push forward, with support from their base.

To make the abortion issue that much more enraging, while Republicans say that women should not have the right to control their own bodies, they are also saying that children should not have the right to be taught comprehensive sex education. So, Republicans apparently feel that the only way to teach kids about sex is to not teach them anything substantive at all, and then if there happens to be a pregnancy, possibly because of this lack of education, the woman is out of luck.

The Senate Finance Committee, after rejecting two public option proposals the other day, voted to support abstinence only education. Led by Republican Orrin Hatch, the amendment that reinstates $50 million in support of abstinence only education. Two of the Democratic Senators, Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad, who voted against the public option apparently felt the need to support this amendment. Apparently, they feel like a person should not be allowed to learn about the realities of pregnancies and STDs, but in the very real chance that there is a pregnancy or disease as a result of sex, there will be no quality affordable health care coverage available.

Once again, the Republicans, without a majority in either House of Congress or control of the White House, are managing to push forward their agenda, and the Democrats are not fighting back.

And if the Republicans have not been successful enough in continuing their agenda in Congress, they are also making gains in the judiciary. The Supreme Court just accepted to hear a case about a gun ban in Chicago. The case has not yet been argued, but if it goes anything like the Heller case did in DC, where the gun ban was overturned, even more guns will be allowed on the streets of an already violent city. Since the Heller case dealt with federal land, the Chicago case would be the first time that the Supreme Court rules on local gun bans. This could open up the possibilities for right wing gun nuts to have more access to dangerous weapons that are responsible for countless murders across the US.

Speaking of gun rights, we are reminded of seven years ago when the DC sniper killed ten people at random. Now the New York Times details how the Congress has done very little to reform any gun laws, and if anything, has further protected the gun industry from any Civil charges that could have come from the DC sniper case.

Despite the Democrats bending over backwards to let the Republican agenda through, even when the Republicans have shown no interest in bipartisanship with the Democrats, there may be at least one Democrat who has had enough.

Rep. Alan Grayson from Florida’s 8th District recently charged that the Republicans’ solution to health care is that people should not get sick. And if someone does get sick, their health care solution is that the person should die quickly. Finally a Democrat has grown a backbone and stood up to the right! The Republicans do not have any true plan for health care reform. They have no true plan to cover the uninsured or lower health care costs or improve quality. Rep. Grayson is finally someone who is calling them out on this point.

Some Republicans were upset by Rep. Grayson’s charges and demanded an apology. Rep. Grayson apologized, but not for what he said, but instead to the 45,000 people each year who die because they don’t have adequate care. He apologized for the Republicans, and once again stood up against any games that the Republicans tried to play.

The Republicans had one more chance at Rep. Grayson when he went on the Situation Room on CNN. Again, instead of backing down, Rep. Grayson stood strong and continued to talk about his beliefs for the need for true health care. Surely the Republicans will come out and attack him more, but it is important for Rep. Grayson to maintain his aggressiveness and his colleagues should join in. This is just what those of us who support health care reform have been waiting to see.

Forty-five million people need health care coverage, the rest of us need better coverage. All of us need less of the Republican talking points, and finally Rep. Grayson seems to be leading a charge against the Republicans. Let’s just hope it is not too little too late.

Sam Edelstein

Edelstein’s Web site is


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