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Key Democrat trying to kill health care reform

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His name is James Clyburn's (D-S.C.), he's a senior member of Speaker Pelosi's leadership, and he's trying to kill health care reform this year.

Clyburn, for no apparent reason, went on TV (twice) in the past few days and said we likely won't be doing anything on health care reform this year - even though Obama has said otherwise, and it was a key promise in the campaign. You see, Clyburn says he still feels burned by the 1994 health reform fiasco, so he'd rather have us bite off a few small pieces of reform and then we can revisit the issue later. I guess "later" means the next time the Democrats hold the White House, House and Senate after winning a massive mandate. I'm sure we'll have another Barack Obama type candidate some time in the next generation or two.

"If you take what we've done with [the State Children's Health Insurance Program bill] and then you follow with [more spending] on community health centers, you would have gone a long way to building a foundation upon which to build a universal access healthcare program.

"I would much rather see it done that way, incrementally, than to go out and just bite something you can't chew. We've been down that road. I still remember 1994."
Yeah, a few points. First, if Mr. Clyburn is so traumatized by events 15 years ago, he should resign his position in the House leadership and on any committees with jurisdiction over the matter. We don't need dinosaurs in our leadership who are too afraid to address the nation's problems because something bad happened to them nearly two decades ago.

As for Clyburn's notion that expanding health care for children of the working poor, and increasing funding for "community health centers" - both very nice ideas that won't do a thing for the majority of us - will somehow be a big step towards helping the rest of us, I have a modest proposal. Let Mr. Clyburn and his family go get health care at a community health center, then tell us how this proposal addresses the very real problem Americans face with their inadequate, overly expensive health care. For all intents and purposes, I have no prescription drug coverage (I have enough coverage to buy 5 months of my asthma medication a year, then nothing else for the next 7 months), even though I have the best self-employed plan that Blue Cross offers. Does Mr. Clyburn propose that I try to sell myself as a poor child, or do I hustle over to a community health center, to deal with the asthma drugs I can't afford? And what happens if I, or any of you, come down with a catastrophic illness? Better not need any prescriptions drugs for that illness (and if your plan has a lifetime cap, you'd better not have that illness long, or you won't have any coverage ever again).

We have a very real problem in this country, and incrementally helping poor children and community health centers, while nice, does nothing to help the majority of Americans who people like Clyburn were elected to serve and protect. At some point, Democrats need to get over their fixation with turning everything into a class issue. The poor need help, and should be helped. But the rest of us, rich and poor and everyone in between, are just as screwed if we get really sick and our insurance doesn't cover our illness. We expect our government to help all of us, not just the rich (Republicans) and not just the poor (Democrats).

If Clyburn isn't man enough to help President Obama take this issue on, then he shouldn't be in our leadership. Speaker Pelosi should choose someone instead who isn't psychologically damaged by events nearly two decades ago.

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