My question is this, When are the Republicans going to stop acting like a political party and start acting like American citizens? -- The performance on Saturday in the Senate was one of the worst I have seen since the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The claims made by Republicans in floor speeches were outrageous. They were topped only by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's final speech right before the cloture vote. He did what family therapists call the "kitchen sink" of arguments, throwing out every argument he could to make Americans who were listening very skeptical of the Democrats. His "kitchen sink" included the Chinese lecturing us about our debt, statistics that show that one out of ten Americans is looking for a job and that Congress has been on an out-of-control spending binge. --The last time I looked, the balance of trade problem got much worse on George W. Bush's watch and the debt was spiraling down not up on Bill Clinton's watch.
It is true that President Obama has spent a ton of money and gotten us into further into debt but he was left with no options since our country was teetering on the brink of a depression.
Sen. McConnell then went on to say that rather then debate the bill that "we could start over with a step-by-step common sense approach that would fix our problems." He said that Republicans could encourage healthy choices like prevention programs. But any political observer knows that as soon as that happens the lobbyists are all over Capitol Hill to get any healthy choice legislation out of all bills. This is all laudatory talk but where is Sen. McConnell's bill? Where are his solutions to the uninsured or under insured or the small businesses that can't afford insurance? Why didn't he offer solutions in his speech on the floor?
When asked earlier what he would do if the bill moved to floor debate, he said that there would be a lively amendment process. He is right, now there will be and should be a period marked by a lively amendment process. The Republicans, and some of the doubting Democrats, will have ample time to debate and amend the bill. They can put forth the "common sense" approach that Mitch McConnell says is needed, and they can show the rest of us citizens that they are not the party of "no" but they have real ideas to help Joe and Sally cope with the high cost of medical care.
Republicans are complaining about the tax burden and have put forth their own calculations on health care but they do not jive with the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office's scoring of health care reform. The GOP is scaring people with promises of higher taxes but there is no evidence that there are going to be huge tax increase on most citizens except the very wealthy.
There are many things to be questioned about the health care bill such as the shortage of medical residency training slots, the shortage of nurses and the influence of the guilds such as the American Medical Association. There are some real questions to be answered like why (according to the Congressional Budget Office) are only 96% of Americans covered under current proposals? There are legitimate questions about the funding of Medicare and any cuts to services. Those are the kinds of amendments and questions that should come up in the debate process of this bill. The Republicans in the Senate have had months to write their own bill and propose viable solutions. So far all they have done is to say that this bill should not be debated on the floor. It is high time the Senate Republicans encouraged debate and offered alternative solutions. If they did that then they would be doing what the voters sent them to Washington to do.
Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.