The health care civil war

The health care civil war

As U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman arrived at the Capitol this past week before the historic vote on health care reform, the California Democrat and a leading proponent of the bill was greeted by catcalls such as “traitor” and “baby killer.”
Some of those same jeers were even heard on the House floor.
Sadly, the goal of health care for all Americans — either through the bill President Obama signed into law Tuesday, or some of the Republican alternatives — has divided this country like few other issues in recent memory, including abortion.
Jews took different positions, too. B’nai B’rith, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the National Jewish Democratic Council lauded the bill, while the Republican Jewish Coalition criticized it.
In this debate, we’ve seen several of our elected officials reach the depths of political depravity. Whether it’s Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, urging on his conservative supporters by declaring they can “break” the president with health care, or Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, holding the health care bill hostage while he extorted his so-called “cornhusker kickback” (extra Medicaid money for his home state) in return for his vote, the health care debate became less about health care for Americans and more about politics.
Make no mistake, this country is gripped by a civil war over health care, and neither side is leaving the field of battle.
And the fight isn’t over yet. The ink wasn’t dry on Obama’s signature when 13 attorneys general from states across the union, including Pennsylvania, announced they would challenge the new act in court.
As if the national wounds from this debate weren’t raw enough, these lawyers plan to rub salt in them.
The next skirmish is in the Senate when Republicans will use procedural moves to block a reconciliation bill that will make final revisions to the health care act.
Then there’s the midterm election, where both sides are hoping to use the health care vote to their advantages.
When will it end?
We don’t have the answer to that. We only know the highly partisan fever in this country rose off the charts during the health care debate. More and more, Americans, Jewish Americans included, are choosing sides rather than reaching out. We’re talking less and shouting more. Compromise and accommodation are becoming dirty words in this health care civil war, and the country is poorer for it.