When President Obama first took on health insurance reform, he made
it clear he hoped to reach out across the aisle to produce a bipartisan
plan. He even kicked off the health reform effort by bringing a wide
array of folks from across the political spectrum to the White House to
share ideas and find common ground.
For months, though, we've watched as opponents of health reform executed their self-professed strategy to "delay, define, and derail" reform.
And in the past few days their stunts and obstruction have reached a
new low. On Saturday at midnight, money for the Department of Defense
– including the money that funds our troops overseas – is set to run
out. Thanks to Republican obstruction on health reform, the Senate
delayed passing a bill to continue that funding. The bill includes,
among other things:
*More than $100 billion operations and maintenance, and military personnel requirements for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to support preparations to continue withdrawal from Iraq.
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*More than $23 billion for equipment used by our service
members in Iraq and Afghanistan – including critical funds to
accelerate the deployment of new mine-resistant vehicles
*More than $150 billion to increase readiness and training of our troops.
*Nearly $30 billion for health care for service members and their families.
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The depth of the hypocrisy involved is stunning. Back in 2007, when
Congress was debating how to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible
close, many of these same folks launched blistering accusations about
Democrats' commitment to our troops. Here are just a few of the things
"Playing politics with the critical funding that our troops need now is political theater of the worst kind." – Sen. John Cornyn, [Press Release, 4/26/07]
"We have plenty of time and plenty of opportunity to have political
debates... but it’s just unconscionable to me to tie the hands of the
very troops that we all say we support." – Sen. John Cornyn, [Transcript, Senate Republican News Briefing, 4/10/07]
"Every day we don’t fund our troops is a day their ability to fight this war is weakened." – Sen. Mitch McConnell, [Press Release, 3/31/07]
"No way to treat the troops, and it is entirely inconsistent with [Senators’] expressions of support for the troops." – Sen. Mitch McConnell, [Congressional Record, 10/4/07]
"I don't understand this attitude of, ‘We can play with; we can risk
the lives of these troops by waiting until the last possible minute to
get the funding to them." – Sen. Jon Kyl, [FOX News Transcript, 4/10/07]
"Our obligation to those troops must transcend politics." – Sen. Jon Kyl, [Press Release, 11/8/07]
Now though, as we debate not foreign policy but health care, the Department of Defense funding can wait? Incredible.
We've been talking about fixing the broken health care system in
this country for decades. Each day reform was delayed this year, an
average of 15,000 Americans lost insurance. Since the last time heath
reform failed, premiums have doubled and national health care
expenditures have nearly tripled. The time for political games is
over. Now it’s time to act.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communicaitons Director