On health care and everything else, the path to compromise is available

Contrary to most, I was not surprised that Congress has failed to repeal and replace “Obamacare”. “Repeal and Replace” has been the unifying slogan of the Republican party since 2009. That slogan may have become fact except for one minor detail. Like the Democratic party, the Republican party is merely a coalition of various diverse factions. Political parties have historically been bottom up rather than top down organizations. For example, a Democrat from West Virginia or North Dakota has a remarkably different constituency than a Democrat from California or New York. A Republican from Alabama or Mississippi has a remarkably different constituency than a Republican from Maine or Alaska. The age old maxim that all politics are local is alive and well. Stereotyping Republicans and Democrats can be an unwise oversimplification. There can be uncertainty in the alchemy of factions. To quote Voltaire, “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But, certainty is an absurd one”.

Senator John McCain’s speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate was well timed regarding the absurdity of one political party trying to ram through a bill on health care with no bipartisan support. It is an absurdity of which both political parties have been guilty. The Democrats did it in 2009 and the Republicans tried it in 2017. Further polarizing an already divided country is not for the greater public good. It will take respect and communication between Washington Republicans and Washington Democrats to improve the present health care delivery system in the USA. Playing the predictable blame game hasn’t been rendering concrete solutions. It reminds one of a marriage gone bad where he claims he drinks too much because she nags and she claims she nags because he drinks too much.

It would also help if both parties stopped telling the public they can have improved health care with lower premiums. Prior to “Obamacare,” health care costs had been increasing from 12% to18% per year under the old system. If Obamacare is unsustainable, so was the old system it replaced. The uninsured were being treated in crowded emergency rooms and health care providers were passing their losses on to insured patients. This is a similar principle to retailers factoring employee theft and shoplifting into their overhead while pricing their wares. In retrospect, Obamacare was oversold by the Democrats in 2009 and has been over scorned by the Republicans since 2009. The absurdity of the certainty of both parties is now obvious.

Senator McCain was right on the mark when he told his colleagues that it was time for the two political parties to work together for a viable solution. Neither side will get its way in the end because the country is divided. A very good judge once told me that as a rule of thumb, if neither side were happy with his court decisions he probably had done the right thing.

Let the Al Sharptons and the Sean Hannitys crow while Congress stops crowing and start acting like adults. Their business is show business, not governing.

North Dakota is now in a unique position to lead the national effort to reform the health care delivery system. Neither Senator Hoeven nor Senator Heitkamp are “wing nuts”. They both have a unique opportunity to work across the aisle in a respectful and grown up manner. It would be for the good of the country. Why are they there if they are not there to lead? If either of them, as a result, are “primaried” by their respective party bases, the voters of North Dakota are smart enough to reward them in a primary election for choosing country over party. Senator McCain’s eloquent floor speech urging the two political parties to choose country over party was possibly the words of a dying man. Staring death in the face requires one to face the truth. Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp, please live the truth. A war hero has called you out.

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Jim Maxson

Mr. Maxson is a retired Minot attorney, former ND State Senator representing Minot's 3rd District from 1986-1994, and former ND Democratic National Committeeman from 2000-2008. He speaks two languages, English and Metaphor, and is cursed by a long memory.

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