Eugene T. Paslov: Sometimes a little sausage-making is necessary
For the Nevada Appeal
We have just been given an upfront and personal view of how a law is made. It’s not pretty. Some have likened the making of laws to the grinding of sausage; certainly the health care reform bill that recently passed the Senate gives us the taste of “raw sausage” – not pleasant.
But Politics 101 requires give and take, negotiation, compromise and even deal-making. Across the country, commentators have been discussing the sausage-making as health care reform works its way through the congressional grinder. But some Nevada Appeal letter writers are outraged, shocked that deals were cut to get support for President Obama’s major domestic priority – health care reform.
Yet, in the face of venal, multibillion-dollar insurance company opposition to change and thousands of high-paid lobbyists, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid worked their political skills to get the bills passed and on to a conference committee for final negotiation.
Just as a reminder, President Roosevelt had to fight the same reactionary political forces to get the New Deal legislation passed. He had to struggle even harder to enact Social Security legislation. Lyndon Johnson, a consummate politician, used his considerable political skills to win the approval of the landmark Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Medicare amendment to the Social Security Act.
President Obama’s health care is of the same magnitude.
Some readers have complained that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. Mary Landeau (D-La.) cut deals that were too lucrative for their constituents and too expensive for taxpayers ($100 million and $300 million, respectively). Perhaps. But they were able to make those deals because Republicans in the Senate refused to do their jobs as legislators. If just a few Republican senators had been willing to work with the Senate Democrats, negotiations would have been bi-partisan and less costly. Such are the consequences of Congressional Republican obstructionism.
Law-making is indeed like watching sausage being prepared – diverse bits and pieces combined and shaped into something worthwhile. The fact is that this is the process we have elected to use in our democratic process.
I believe our Nevada Congressional Democrats – Rep. Dina Titus, Rep. Shelley Berkley and Sen. Reid – should be congratulated, and rewarded at election time.
• Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada superintendent of schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter High School in Carson City.