We haven't run a really good contest in a while, so I thought we'd open up the betting on what the outcome of the healthcare reform push will likely be, rather than write yet another column of seething frustration at the lack of progress from our belovéd Congresscritters.
Archive of Articles for July, 2009
For a while now, I've been using the metaphor of a baseball game to describe the progress of healthcare reform legislation trundling its way through Congress. And I have to caution everyone, we are still in the middle innings of this "game" (no disrespect intended, I know it's a serious subject -- I'm just talking metaphorically here) Which means that, no matter what the bills look like when they come out of the recalcitrant House and Senate committees, there will still be a lot of fighting before this is all over. I say this not to discourage healthcare reform advocates, but to keep everyone focused on how far we have to go.
California voters may soon get a chance to weigh in on whether marijuana should be legalized and taxed by the state. If enacted, this may help the state's budget by providing revenue from a brand new source, while also freeing up money that previously went to enforcement efforts against marijuana growing. Of course, marijuana would still be illegal under federal law, but this may be a turning point in the legalization movement -- the point where politicians desperate for tax revenues see dollar signs instead of prison bars when looking at the cannabis plant.
The White House has, of late, been quietly expressing a bit of confidence that the economy is going to pick up in the last two quarters of this year. They aren't shouting it from the rooftops, exactly, but they have been publicly predicting that the recession will officially be over in the next six months or so. Which raises the question -- since the Republicans have pretty much doubled down on Obama's failure, what are they going to do if the economy gets better next year? When the midterm congressional election season gets under way in full force, what are they going to run on if people are happy with Obama's policies at that point?
There's a relatively recent political metaphor that is about to become a reality, and become etched in the history books much like the ring left on a wooden table by a sweating cold glass. President Obama is about to become the ultimate president "you could sit down and have a beer with." What this means for the future of our great nation has yet to be determined, but it's worth a look as to how we got to this point.
Before I begin with the serious stuff, I'd like to indulge in a little gratuitous media-bashing first. If that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, just skip to the next section now. You have been warned.
But is their idea viable? Or would the unintended consequences be worse that what already exists, especially at the small, short-term-loan end of the scale? These are questions that bear some examination.
In a few hours from now, President Barack Obama will give a live press conference to the nation. This is part of a new and concerted media effort by the White House to make Obama much more visible in the debate on healthcare reform. But being visible is one thing, and showing leadership is another. Because President Obama has so far been unwilling to tackle the tough decisions on healthcare reform, at least not in public. And, as Obama is accusing his detractors of doing, this is nothing more than playing politics with the issue by avoiding personal political risk to himself. Disturbingly, Obama hasn't even been very good at this political cheerleading, although he has gotten better in the past few days.
Quick -- who was Michael Collins?
Conservatives and corporate-owned Democrats are in a tizzy. The House is moving its version of healthcare reform forward, and it (gasp!) raises money by (double-gasp!) taxing rich folks. Not by very much, as these things go -- but you certainly wouldn't know that from hearing Republican politicians and their enablers in the news media. As far as they're concerned, Democrats are going to raise everyone's tax rates (yes, even YOURS!) until they rival Denmark's (complete with Fox News graphics, in case you missed the point). While the tactic is new, the strategy is an old one, and can be summed up as: "Who will stand up for the poor, poor millionaires and billionaires?"