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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/17/09

Republicans Exploit Kennedy's Illness in Push to Destroy Health Reform

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The Republican battle to defeat health care reform and ram an agenda of debt-inflation using tax credits to subsidize private insurers, de-regulate medical care and pharmaceutical sales, and destroy meaningful health reform reached a new low Friday, when several Republican and conservative-leaning Democrats exploited the gravely ill Ted Kennedy to call for dismantling key elements of the Senate HELP committee bill.

The New York Times reports that Republican Senator Chuck "U Got Nerve, Obama" Grassley said, "Let me say something that's very obvious...If Kennedy were here, it would make melding the Finance Committee bill and the HELP Committee bill much easier."

What Grassley is suggesting is that Kennedy would readily cave to the Right Wing's demands that health care reform be gutted of the public plan option and stripped down to a bill that functions like Medicare Part D to scam unsuspecting Americans.

No big surprise. Grassley has shown he's willing to sink to new lows to ram his partisan, special interest agenda down the throats of Americans.

Grassley is the partisan hack from Iowa, whose state voted for Obama and who, despite this, has defined "bipartisanship" as gutting health care reform of a public plan. He is the ranking Republican on the out-of-control Senate Finance Committee, which seems hell-bent on limiting health care reform until it is little more than a collection of voluntary suggestions. Grassley continues to elevate his profile as an unchecked dictator with beligerent Tweets dictating how the President should do his job and screaming at a senior citizen in Iowa to "go work for the federal government" if he wants health care.

Long blasted by the Right Wing as the totem of liberalism in the Senate, Kennedy is suddenly a dearly-missed beacon of conservatism in a sea of liberalism when caricatured by the Right. Nothing new. It's like President Bush invoking the victims of September 11th to launch a war in Iraq. It's like Republicans recalling Jack Kennedy as the last great Democrat now that it is well past 40 years after his death.

Far from supporting a watered-down version of health care reform, Kennedy is reported to have been roused to incredible heights of exuberance to learn that the Senate HELP committee, on which he is chair, had passed his vision of health care reform.

"Mr. Dodd called him Tuesday night," the Times reports, "to tell him the health committee, known as HELP, would pass the health bill - whose centerpiece is a government-run insurance plan - the next day. 'I called about 8:15, and he was already asleep,' Mr. Dodd said. Mr. Kennedy called back at 7 a.m. Wednesday sounding thrilled. "Just bellowing with joy,' Mr. Dodd said, 'as excited as I've heard him in a long time.'"

Where does Grassley get the *nerve* to exploit the weakened condition of a man who has served his country for over 50 years in the Senate as a tireless champion for health care reform? I understand that Grassley is willing to do anything to destroy health care for his campaign funders, but how can he justify taking advantage of a man with brain cancer to advance his political agenda?

Grassley wasn't alone. Centrist Democrat Patty Murray from Washington who joined all 40 Republicans in voting for Senate Amendment 873, the $440 billion tax transfer onto the Middle Class from the richest .25 of 1 percent of Americans, exploited Kennedy's name to justify her own centrist (read Republican/Corporate America friendly) leanings.

"Similarly," the Times reports, "members of the health committee, particularly Democrats, often speak in terms of 'What would Teddy do?' Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, said. 'We're all working to do what we think he'd want us to do.'"

Well, if you arrive at the conclusion, you false Democrat, that Kennedy would have you water down health care reform to satisfy the special interests, you are gravely mistaken, Murray.

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Dean Powers lives in Castleton, VT. He has apprenticed at several newspapers including The Nation. He currently writes for OpEdNews. He can be found at facebook.com/deanppowers.

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