Friday, March 26, 2010

Maine's Snowe and Collins Fail Dismally On Health Reform

It is a real shame to see our Maine state senators Olympia Snowe (R.)and Susan Collins (R.) make the greatest mistake of their political careers by attacking the recent healthcare law, which I refer to as the Health Freedom Law.

This is legislation that saves lives, prevents unfair bankruptcies, and promotes decency and caring. The pursuit of happiness entails that everyone should have access to affordable medical treatment. No one should be chained to fear because they can’t get the cure for their illness, especially if it's available right up the street.

And how many of us stay at a job we hate, instead of pursuing our dreams, because it is the only way to get to a doctor?

To be trapped in a soul-killing rat race is one of the most horrid restrictions on freedom I can think of. Following in the great tradition of Social Security, Medicare, and Civil Rights, the new Health Freedom Law is a major victory for ethics over brute selfishness.

Snowe and Collins will never again get a chance to be part of something this monumental. Something this fundamentally good. If either of them had jumped their party, it would have been heroic enough to get them into heaven (if there is such a place). But they are timid moderates in a red-state gang of pols that has become deplorably stained by shameless tactics.

Snowe and Collins do not fit the extremist profile of the GOP, the party of bullying, fear, and gun-talk. The GOP wears the thinnest veil of manners, while spewing messages of brimstone.

As Paul Krugman writes in his latest op-ed (“Going To Extreme”) Republican leaders are now using metaphors that appeal to the mindset of snipers, assassins and end-of-time fanatics:

“John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was “Armageddon.” The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee’s chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on “the firing line.” And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.”

These bullies are the LEADERS of Snowe and Collins’ party, not the fringe. Based on the tact I have seen from these two strong women (Snowe, of course, actually voted FOR pressing ahead on healthcare not long ago, the only Republican to do so), perhaps they are torn up inside about having to lock stride with windbags and petty despots. I

Yes, I am guessing that they are sickened by their colleagues’ monstrous rants.

Snowe, especially, I think, could have found it in herself to switch parties and leave behind a fascist GOP. For her, I think, this is a particularly sad failure. She could have been remembered throughout history as someone who eschewed dark conformity. But she has faltered. She has crept back into lame submission to the great demagogues of the far right.

Her objections are meager, as if she is having trouble trotting them out against the protests of her conscience:

“Snowe criticized the reconciliation bill, which would hit employers with more than 50 workers with a $2,000 per employee penalty if they do not offer health insurance.”

( )

Frightening as it may seem, to Snowe, that business must offer health coverage, there are important mitigating factors: (a) business will get serious tax breaks, (b) there will be caps on insurance costs, (c) healthier, happier employees increase productivity, AND let us not forget:

(d) People are currently dying or going bankrupt because they can’t afford to go to the hospital,

(e) People are living in utter fear that they will lose their policy

(f) Or that they will get sick and lose everything because they don’t have one,

(f) People with insurance are being hit with higher premiums and less effective coverage,

(g) The whole system is sinking fast--very fast--and

(h) Something has to be done NOW, not five or ten years from now.

Every day of delay destroys lives and stokes mountains of pain and stress. How could Snowe and Collins put off what we need immediately to save lives?

Indeed, Snowe’s point is only that the new Health Freedom might adversely affect business owners.

Collins makes the same case. Just as weak and narrow:

“Most Americans will be shocked to learn that Washington wants to slap fines on small businesses that hire more workers,” [Collins] said. “But the new health care law does exactly that. Incredibly, this reconciliation package makes matters worse.”

Again, people are dying, people are sick, people are terrified, people are losing everything they worked for. And all our Senators can come up with is ... a possible fine?

So, I am very saddened for our State Senators. They are puppets of a political apparatus of vile fire eaters, and they are not that ugly themselves; but they have made some very bad decisions.

After the Civil Rights Act passed, violence raged. Red-faced southern pols vowed militant opposition. But today, those people are considered the epitome of ignorance.

Twenty years from now, unfortunately, Snowe and Collins will be considered rather forgettable members of the ignorance club.

Why couldn’t they have made the courageous choice. Ugh! Senator Snowe, I feel particularly sorry for you. Wake up!


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