Eleven months ago, I wrote you to share my expectations for the coming health reform debate. At the time, I expressed Democrats’ intention to work in good faith with Republicans, and my desire that – while we would disagree at times – we could engage in an honest discussion grounded in facts rather than fear, and focused on producing results, not playing partisan politics.
Obviously, the opposite has happened, as many Republicans have spent the past year mischaracterizing the health reform bill and misleading the public. Though we have tried to engage in a serious discussion, our efforts have been met by repeatedly debunked myths and outright lies. At the same time, Republicans have resorted to extraordinary legislative maneuvers in an effort not to improve the bill, but to delay and kill it. After watching these tactics for nearly a year, there is only one conclusion an objective observer could make: these Republican maneuvers are rooted less in substantive policy concerns and more in a partisan desire to discredit Democrats, bolster Republicans, and protect the status quo on behalf of the insurance industry.
In fact, the attacks on the health care bill are part of a broader pattern. As has been well documented, your caucus conspicuously shattered the record for obstruction last Congress by demanding gratuitous procedural votes on even the most non-controversial matters, and by stalling the work of the Senate despite the urgency of the serious problems facing our country. Senate Republicans are on pace to again break their own record this Congress, illustrated by Sen. Bunning’s effort to prevent the Senate from acting to extend families’ unemployment and health benefits even after those benefits had expired.
While Republicans were distorting the facts in the health care debate and inflicting delay after needless delay, millions of Americans have continued to suffer as they struggle to afford to stay healthy, stay out of bankruptcy and stay in their homes. Thousands of Americans lose their health care every day, and tens of thousands of the uninsured have lost their lives since this debate began. Meanwhile, rising health costs have contributed to a rising federal budget deficit.
The letter goes on to explain why it’s reasonable to use reconciliation to pass the patches to a bill that has already gotten 60 votes in the Senate.
Maybe this is all bluff, but Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are acting as if they’re in the endgame and like their position.