It’s My Party

It’s My Party


Leonard Zwelling

Lesley Gore was singing for most of the members of Congress. A member of one party would sooner die than cross the aisle and vote for a popular bill sponsored by the other side. The Covid Relief package is a great example. Almost three-fourths of the public favors the bill. Even half of Republicans like it. Yet, not a single Republican in the House or Senate would lift a finger to assist the President in getting it passed. This is as bad as ObamaCare which also passed with no GOP support.

Let’s be honest. The Covid Relief Bill is not a perfect package. It is stuffed with liberal pork. The Senate Parliamentarian did away with the minimum wage increase provision, as she should have, but there were other aspects of the bill that should have been cleaved off as well because they have nothing to do with covid relief. It does read like the revenge of AOC, BUT, it’s popular. The people want it and many desperately need it. There was an element of speed involved as well because the extended unemployment benefits will run out on March 14. There really was no time for extensive deliberation. Nonetheless, this is awful. Why can’t the parties come to agreement on anything? I know the answer. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

One afternoon in 2009, the Republican and Democratic staffs of the members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions were meeting to discuss some aspects of the Democrat-proposed health care bill. There must have been 25 people in the room. I was the only doctor, the only oncologist, the only true health care person. Yet, when I opened my mouth to support a provision in the bill favoring clinical cancer research but proposed by the Democrats, the staff members of my Republican office told me to shut up. It was never about what was in the bill vis a vis something good for the country. It was about winning or losing for those who had lobbied our office against the provision. The staff of my office had their instructions from the Legislative Director. No compromise, no dealing, no matter the issue.

In the end, ObamaCare was not a piece of legislation. It was a deal among the heavy hitters in American health care to preserve their income streams from insurance premiums, drug prices, doctors’ fees and hospital bills.

The same will prove to be true with this bill supposedly about covid relief but stuffed with liberal wishes that had been sidelined for the past four years.

Unless and until the legislators get serious about doing what is best for the people and only that, these messy brawls will likely continue. With leaders like Schumer and McConnell, we will never get to a place where Republicans and Democrats do what they were sent to Washington to do—make deals for the people, not for the lobbyists.

Combine all that with the force of Trump blowing like an ill wind through the GOP, and it is unlikely that we will have meaningful, balanced legislation in the near future.

The Founding Fathers warned against factionalism. To them that meant parties. Yet as early as the Presidential race of 1800 when Democratic-Republican Jefferson displaced Federalist John Adams, parties were already well established in the new republic. I guess we are stuck with parties and with factions within them whether that be the Bidens vs. the Bernies or the Trumpers vs. the Romneys. Birds of a feather do flock together and boy do they make a mess in the aviary.

Political parties are a necessary evil, but they needn’t do evil. Each party needs new leadership that is ready to make deals for the American people. The folks in charge now are not those people.

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