“In the past, opposition came from well-oiled, deep-pocketed corporate lobbies. This time, with many of those corporate stakeholders explicitly in favor of health reform, the opposition exploded from the grass roots. Moreover, the inevitable wheeling and dealing–there is no other way to pass legislation–was easily ridiculed by the bill’s opponents.”
Talk about loaded quotes. The only thing is, it’s entirely true. In the past, it was the likes of the American Medical Association that led the opposition to health care reform. Not so this time around. In part, that was because the Obama administration reached out to these groups in order to neutralize them. That gets to some of the “wheeling and dealing” in the quote, but more on that later. The corporate lobbies also came on board, because the amount that the corporations they represent were paying for health care was eroding their bottom lines, and they figured that something had to give. When they expected reform to be inevitable, they saw it as in their best interests to be involved in shaping it rather than fighting it.
But with the traditional opposition out of the picture, the grass roots opposition appeared. Perhaps that’s in keeping with the principle that nature abhors a vacuum. When the corporate lobbies backed down, the people stood up in their stead. But that forces one to ask the question: If the corporate lobbies saw fit to change their tune, why didn’t the people? I think the answer to that one is that the people aren’t as acutely aware of the realities of our health care system and the need for reform. They got caught up in the politics of the matter rather than the substance of the policy.
Finally, there’s the inevitable wheeling and dealing. It might sound cynical to some, conjuring up notions of our political system as a corrupt body where votes are sold, kickbacks are commonplace, and ethics are absent. To be certain, not everything that happens in Washington is above board, but that doesn’t mean that deal-making is always inappropriate. Our system is simply rigged with too many checks and balances–places in the process where breakdown can occur–that without careful negotiations nothing would ever happen. Ironically, many of the people who say “Congress never does anything” are the same people who say “I’m tired of all these back room deals in Congress.” Which do you want? A Congress that never makes back room deals or one that never gets anything done? Because you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.