There seems to be something going around among the Republican leadership.
Today, RNC Chairman Michael Steele said this about health care reform:
I mean, it just annoys and irritates me on something so fundamentally important. That this Congress, this leadership, is so tone deaf and so hell bent on propping up a policy that the American people doesn’t want, that they’re willing to basically flip the bird to the American people on this issue and slip it in in the dead of night.
Like I said when Mitch McConnell complained about the timing of the health care reform votes:
Actually, Senator, Democrats have been trying to bring this bill to a vote since the summer–it’s because of the your party’s obstructionism and delay tactics that the health care reform process has taken this long.
Remember, the GOP pledged at the beginning to vote en masse against health care reform, and to this day not a single Republican in either the House or Senate has signed on to reform our broken health care system.
Because of that, the Democrats have had to bend over backwards to win over as much of their caucus as they can, including conservatives like Bart Stupak, Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson.
Had even a handful of Republicans worked in good faith, negotiated with the Democrats and put together a good, bipatisan health care reform bill, this all could have been over with months ago.
In fact, as Think Progress points out, Democrats offered to hold this vote at 9:00 AM today but the GOP objected to that, too:
Last night, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered a unanimous consent agreement to move the 1 a.m. vote to 9 a.m. this morning if Republicans agreed to forgo the optional 30 hours of debate between each cloture vote and still pass the final legislation before Christmas. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who had also sternly criticized the early morning vote, objected to the measure.
There are plenty of reasons for this urgency on health care reform.
There are 45,000 reasons in the 45,000 Americans who die each year because they lack access to adequate health care.
There are 31 million reasons in the 31 million Americans who will finally receive health care coverage because of this bill.
Health care reform is, literally, a matter of life and death. Maybe well-off folks like Michael Steele and Mitch McConnell can afford to treat this like an academic exercise, like something you’d quibble about on your college debate team, but to millions of Americans what Congress passes–and how quickly they pass it–will directly impact their lives.
In fact, it may very well save or prolong their lives.
For obvious reasons, the GOP doesn’t like when people talk about the real impact that health care reform–or the lack thereof–will have. But that doesn’t change the fact that people do get sick and die, unnecessarily, because of our broken health care system, and that health care reform is designed to reduce that.
In 10 years nobody will remember what time they voted on health care reform, but I bet you they will remember how it improved American health care.