After months of intensive debate, the Senate has passed a health care bill. When Congress comes back to Washington, D.C. after the Holiday break, serious negotiations will begin as House and Senate conferees will debate the final language that will hopefully be sent to the President for his signature.
In the 1970’s I worked for U.S. Senator Tom Eagleton in Washington, D.C. and have been directly involved as a staff member in a few of these conference committee discussions…although none as important as the health care debate. The pressure felt by everyone involved in the conference committees was enormous then, as I’m sure it is today.
What is different today is the extreme partisanship. On Sunday, 40 members of the Senate decided that health reform at this time was not necessary. Rather than operating in good faith and trying to negotiate a comprise bill they can live with, these 40 Senators are no longer involved in the discussions other than to say that everything proposed is bad.
Clearly the minority feel as though the majority have not operated in good faith and therefore they are not going to support something they did not help create. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, some of the 60 Senators in the majority are acting like kids in a candy store demanding goodies for their state in order to obtain their vote. This is just irresponsible.
Political partisanship is ruining our country. In the 1970’s I can’t imagine that this situation would take place. Political leaders of both parties would have stopped this from happening because they were more interested in getting a good bill passed rather than positioning for the next election. Political leaders on both sides are not doing their job and the country is suffering because of this lack of leadership.