Stu Bykofsky: Health-care reform a desperate issue for right and left

Chris Boreland holds a sign during - what else? - a tea party protest against health-care reform outside Rep. Melissa Bean's office in Schaumburg, Ill.
Chris Boreland holds a sign during - what else? - a tea party protest against health-care reform outside Rep. Melissa Bean's office in Schaumburg, Ill.
Posted: March 18, 2010

IT'S NOT VIETNAM War-divisive, but the debate over health-care reform is beyond Iraq War-divisive and miles ahead of Pat's vs. Geno's.

If George W. Bush was a divisive president with his ill-planned wars, isn't Barack Obama a divisive president with his ill-planned health-care reform? Even his most ardent admirers can't say that he was a masterful shepherd of the Democrats' do-or-die issue.

And, since I've mentioned President O, if you think opposition to health-care reform is boiling merely because he's a black man, stop reading. Just go e-mail or post something about me, and America, being racist.

If you're still here, look at the interior politics of the reform, which is as twisted as a barrel of snakes.

According to the polls, which are subject to change, a majority of Americans oppose a massive makeover of the U.S. health-care system, while a majority approves individual components of health-care reform.

What do you make of that?

I hate pizza pie, but I love slices?

I like pizza, and while I believe Americans are entitled to affordable medical care, that doesn't make health care itself an entitlement. For most, we're talking about access to coverage, not free coverage.

Both sides have used scare tactics, which is easy when there's a King Kong-sized Senate bill that few have read, packed with God knows what.

Glenn Beck yesterday predicted that if health-care reform passes it will destroy the health-insurance industry because it will be forced to accept all people, even sick ones.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says that the health-care bill is a sell-out to the insurance industry.

I believe they are sincere, but they can't both be right, can they?

I want health-care reform, as do most Republicans I have asked. The crux is how much and how expensive.

What are we to make of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's head-spinning statement that "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it"?

That's bass-ackwards and an instant Bartlett's classic, like John Kerry's "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Stuff like that doesn't help, except to illustrate a government that has created parliamentary monstrosities to avoid accountability for what it does.

Here's the truth: If a health-care bill is passed, it will be as permanent as Medicare and Social Security. It will never be repealed. It may be later tweaked and amended and reformed and fricasseed, but it will never be overturned.

Fiscal conservatives know this, which is why they are willing to scorch the earth and poison the wells to stop it. They also want, in the words of Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, to make the bill Obama's Waterloo, to "break him."

Progressives have to understand that and be willing to water it down to the consistency of Rita's cherry water ice in the July sun to pass it. No public option? No problem. No abortion funds? Don't care. No coverage for illegal aliens? They can't vote anyway.

The patient is on the operating-room table and he's losing it. To save him, Dems may have to cut off a limb or two, or even three. If they're rational, they'll do it. When I learned yesterday that hard-left congressman Dennis Kucinich switched from "no" to "yes," it suggested that the left-wing ideologues were getting the message.

Why should only the left have to give ground? Because no matter how much they yield, they will still have a victory - and Obama will not be broken.

E-mail stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. For recent columns:

http://go.philly.com/byko.

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