President Obama, Congress should set health-care reform aside
The Seattle Times editorial board drops its support of the health-care-reform bills, and says Congress should focus on bolstering the economy and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
THE health-care dance in Washington, D.C., has gone on long enough. Congress needs to focus on the economy and set health care aside.
This is a change of position for us. This page supported Barack Obama for president, enthusiastically. We have supported the health-care effort until now. We still support universal coverage as a social goal.
But the longer the fight goes on, the more it feels that the timing is all wrong. The economy is wounded. Employers are hurting. The time to think about loading employers with new burdens is when they are strong. Not now.
Right now, Congress needs to focus on the economy. It needs to follow the lead of Sen. Maria Cantwell and re-enact Glass-Steagall, the law that separated investment banking from commercial banking and for 50 years helped maintain sanity on Wall Street. It needs to bolster the antitrust laws. It needs to lower the estate tax.
It needs to target the rest of the stimulus money at things that really stimulate — all of these actions to provide breathing room to small- and middle-sized family businesses that were once the backbone of the economy and can be again.
It needs to rejuvenate a trade agenda, starting by ratifying the agreement with Korea.
It needs to get out of two no-win wars in Asia. These are "investments" that will never pay out.
President Obama has promised that any health-care bill he signs will not add one dime to the deficit, which already has swelled beyond anything since World War II. The president has put himself in a position where he cannot keep that promise. He has let each house of Congress come up with its own health-care bills.
The result has been chaos: The public option is in then out; the Medicare buy-in for 55-year-olds is in, then out. When the congressional dance stops, the Senate may have 60 votes, but for what? It will satisfy neither Obama's frugal promise nor progressives' lavish hopes. Already the Democratic Party's former chairman, Howard Dean, says the bill is not worth passing in this form.
You know he's right when you hear statements that something has to be passed, for political reasons. This issue is too important for that. It should wait for a unified proposal and an economy on the mend.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.