On Nov. 7, the House of Representatives narrowly approved a version of the widely disputed health care bill. This bill, which would seek to expand coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans, represents the culmination of the Democratic Party's domestic dream. The burden now rests with the Senate, who is unwisely being pushed to make a decision before Congress breaks for the holidays.
Proponents of the health care bill seem to have two goals in mind: to make health care available to everyone and to make the system operate more efficiently. Democrats in Congress have long fought for keeping health care costs low and widely available to all and now are eager to see their ambitions come to fruition, no matter the cost.
President Barack Obama has been pumping up this bill with his usual eloquence, and Congress has yet to achieve to the lofty goals his rhetoric has set.
The White House is looking at the lifespan of the bill in Congress and not liking what it sees. Visions of Obama reforming health care within one year of holding office seem to be slipping further and further away from them, and now the administration is scrambling toward a messy finish.
As a result of this, the executive branch is putting increasing pressure on Senate to act quickly. It seemed as though the bill had barely made it out alive from the House vote before Obama was imploring Senate to "carry the baton" of this great feat to the finish line, and to waste no time in doing it.
"I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year," he said.
It seems as though Washington has done what it is notorious for -- putting politics ahead of what is best for the public.
As congressional midterm elections of 2010 draw nearer, the administration is undoubtedly aware of its party's potential to become politically vulnerable and that passing legislation could become harder after those elections.
These partisan politics aside, conservatives and liberals are arguing within their respective parties as well. On the left, Democrats are battling to find a satisfactory medium between the more moderates and liberals of the party in efforts to keep the Democratic coalition cohesive. Democrats, who have their fingers crossed that this will be a historic victory for the party, were forced to concede many issues like abortion rights when the bill passed in the House, and the more liberal-leaning are eagerly pushing for the Senate to remedy this.
Congress and the White House should work to keep the good of the general public at the forefront of the debate.
Those on Capitol Hill should take off their red- or blue-tinted political glasses and work to make this the best bill possible for the American people. The bill should not be pushed simply because Obama or Obama's fans want to get it done within his first year as president.
While it may be true that Obama is eager to complete this mission so that he can devote more attention to other pressing issues, both domestic and foreign, this is landmark legislation that should be handled with care, not with haste.
Just like Obama is taking his time with the decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan, we should handle health care in this same fashion -- slowly and cautiously.
This decision will affect every American, both the insured and uninsured, and we should be able to count on our elected officials to take the care to look at every possible angle.
This is an unprecedented step for health care in America, and whether the bill passes or not, Senate and the rest of Capitol Hill should take the time to ensure that the right decision is made for such a historic and sweeping reformation of this nation.