Posted by: JanF | September 24, 2013

“The saucer for the Mad Hatter’s tea party”

There is an old saying, attributed to George Washington, that “the Senate is the saucer that cools the hot tea of the House”:

[Thomas] Jefferson disagreed with Gen. George Washington over the need for a bicameral legislature, and [this was] Washington’s response:

“You, yourself,” said the General, “have proved the excellence of two houses this very moment.”

“I,” said Jefferson. “How is that, General?”

“You have,” replied the heroic sage, “turned your hot tea from the cup into the saucer, to get it cool. It is the same thing we desire of the two houses.”

In 2013, the Senate is setting itself up to be the saucer that holds the Mad Hatter’s teacup.

Later today, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) plans to address the once august body known as the United States Senate, now more like a cluster of clowns. A chamber whose denizens think nothing of appearing on cable TV ads on Home and Garden Network and The Weather Channel promoting abolishing the IRS and, the current crackpot cause du jour, defunding the Affordable Care Act. Because how dare the government Act to make health Care Affordable? That would lead to a stronger economy, fewer personal bankruptcies, and a healthier citizenry. Next thing you know, people will want to form unions, demand the right to vote, and insist upon a living wage … HOW DARE THEY!??!!

If it weren’t so sad it would be quite entertaining. But it is sad because this is our government and the crazy guys are running one of the two major political parties in America. These are the men and women elected to make life suck less for us. And they are doing everything they can to destroy our economy and our country’s financial reputation.

We can fix this. Every two years, one-third of the Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives come up for a vote. In 2014, pour that rancid tea out of the cup and fill it with a fresh brew.

We did it in 2006 and 2008. And in 2010, the 111th Congress with a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President, passed the Affordable Care Act which established the right to health care for the first time in our history:

Today, I’m signing this reform bill into law on behalf of my mother, who argued with insurance companies even as she battled cancer in her final days.

I’m signing it for Ryan Smith, who’s here today. He runs a small business with five employees. He’s trying to do the right thing, paying half the cost of coverage for his workers. This bill will help him afford that coverage.

I’m signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who’s also here. (Applause.) Marcelas lost his mom to an illness. And she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the care that she needed. So in her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children have to go through what his family has experienced. (Applause.)

I’m signing it for Natoma Canfield. Natoma had to give up her health coverage after her rates were jacked up by more than 40 percent. She was terrified that an illness would mean she’d lose the house that her parents built, so she gave up her insurance. Now she’s lying in a hospital bed, as we speak, faced with just such an illness, praying that she can somehow afford to get well without insurance. Natoma’s family is here today because Natoma can’t be. And her sister Connie is here. Connie, stand up. (Applause.)

I’m signing this bill for all the leaders who took up this cause through the generations — from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, from Harry Truman, to Lyndon Johnson, from Bill and Hillary Clinton, to one of the deans who’s been fighting this so long, John Dingell. (Applause.) To Senator Ted Kennedy. (Applause.) And it’s fitting that Ted’s widow, Vicki, is here — it’s fitting that Teddy’s widow, Vicki, is here; and his niece Caroline; his son Patrick, whose vote helped make this reform a reality. (Applause.)

I remember seeing Ted walk through that door in a summit in this room a year ago — one of his last public appearances. And it was hard for him to make it. But he was confident that we would do the right thing.

Our presence here today is remarkable and improbable. With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all of the game-playing that passes for governing in Washington, it’s been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing; to wonder if there are limits to what we, as a people, can still achieve. It’s easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what’s possible in this country.

But today, we are affirming that essential truth -– a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself –- that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations. (Applause.) We are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust. We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we got here.

And we have now just enshrined, as soon as I sign this bill, the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care. (Applause.) And it is an extraordinary achievement that has happened because of all of you and all the advocates all across the country

THAT is what we are fighting for. And the Republicans are indeed crazy if they think we will give that up without a fight.

(Crossposted from Views from North Central Blogistan)