For anyone who thought the election of President Obama would yield significant policy changes, there’s very little good news to go around today.
Health Care Reform
… if we should even be calling it “reform” any more. The Senate Finance Committee rejected including a government-run insurance plan (the so-called “public option”) in Sen. Max Baucus’s health care reform bill:
The 15-8 rejection marked a victory for Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat and the committee chairman who is hoping to push his middle-of-the-road measure through the panel by week’s end. It also kept alive the possibility that at least one Republican may yet swing behind the bill, a key goal of both Baucus and President Barack Obama.
It isn’t terribly surprising that the committee felt comfortable rejecting the public option, after President Obama so forcefully explained in his health care speech that a government-run insurance option was important, sort of, but that it’s totally okay if we don’t have it. But the administration has to keep its eye on the prize, right? (Editor’s note: The prize isn’t getting health insurance for the millions of Americans who don’t have it. Apparently a single Republican vote to preserve the facade of bipartisanship is actually the prize in question.)
When the Senate Finance Committee wasn’t eagerly watering down health care reform, they were busy voting to restore $50 million to abstinence-only sex education:
Two Democrats — Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas — joined all 10 committee Republicans in voting “yes” on the measure by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.
The measure would still have to pass the full House and Senate. Hatch said abstinence education had been shown to work, though Baucus disagreed. Obama had proposed in his 2010 budget to direct money spent on abstinence-only education to broader teen pregnancy-reduction programs.
If this passes, the recent uptick in teenage pregnancy won’t be turning around any time soon. But when it comes down to a choice between enforcing their morals on people or allowing them to make informed choices, Republicans will choose the former every time. And it appears that Democrats will keep letting them – or even helping them! – every single time.
More Health Care Reform
While we’re on the subject of morals, the prospect of government-subsidized abortions has whipped right-wingers into yet another frenzy. So, naturally, here’s what’s happening:
The Senate finance committee is considering amendments that would bar coverage of abortions under federally subsidized health insurance.
Of course they are. Wouldn’t want people who are likely already being bled dry by their health care providers to go around exercising reproductive choice! Just don’t go crying to the Senate when the child you weren’t prepared to care for drives you further into poverty, and you require government assistance — something tells me they won’t want to hear it.
The Man Himself
And what’s President Obama up to while Republicans and spineless Democrats lead us astray from real change on key issues? Oh, he’s gearing up for a trip to Copenhagen, where he’ll conduct the crucial business of fighting for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics.
You know, because that’s important.
Until all this is straightened out, we’ll just keep Sam Cooke on repeat over here. Maybe the next president?