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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 23rd, 2009 - 22:21:50

Is Santa�s healthcare bill coming to town on Christmas Eve?
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Dec 23, 2009, 22:16

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It�s anybody�s guess what Santa�s little cobblers on both sides of the aisle will finally produce. The Democratic cobblers say �it�s seismic,� �will make Teddy Kennedy proud� and cobbler Dodd-o said �Since the time of Harry Truman, every congress, Republicans and Democrats, have at least thought about doing this. Some actually tried.� On the other side, Republicans said, as quoted in The New York Times, �that the bill was fatally flawed and that voters would retaliate against Democrats at the polls in November. Be nice, cobblers, it�s going to be a long night.

In fact, another Republican cobbler, Lamar Alexander from Tennessee said, �It�s obvious why the majority has cooked up this amendment in secret, has introduced it in the middle of a snowstorm, has scheduled the Senate come in session at midnight, has scheduled a vote for 1 a.m., is insisting that it be passed before Christmas -- because they don�t want the American people to know what�s in it.� If that�s the case they learned to do it from George �Do those signings in the middle of the night� Bush. He was naughty and not so nice. Now Santa is checking his list twice. He knows who�s naughty and who�s nice.

Lamar bubbled in rage, �Our friends on the Democratic side seem determined to pursue a political kamikaze mission toward a historic mistake.� Yup, both sides of the elves� aisles blamed the other for all the up and down votes, Saturday, after midnight Monday, at dawn on Tuesday, at 1 p.m. on Wednesday and finally on Christmas Eve. Sounds like these elves are earning their salaries for once, and, as John Cornyn of Texas said, �They had a duty to fight until the last minute.� To say, �adoption of this legislation is not a certainty,� is an understatement.

Even as the Senate�s muddled gift to Americans, the bill needs to be okayed with the House, which adopted it last month, and which now has major differences. In the last bill, the House elves included �a government-run health insurance plan,� better known as �the public option,� which, of course, was dropped from the Senate bill, as was the expansion of Medicare down to 55 years of age, a precious gift. But, Obama didn�t seem to shed too many tears over that. Like he forgot about single-payer healthcare in about a minute after he stepped into the White House. Bah, humbug!

Ah, but he did pitch his �top domestic priority,� to extend benefits to over 30 million people not now insured. It�s a bit bittersweet in that nearly 15 million �moderate� income Americans can�t afford to buy health insurance or pay financial penalties if they fail to buy. If you�re in that column, the government will provide federal subsidies (that is, a giveaway subsidy to the insurance companies) to help you �moderate� Americans pay for private coverage. Get it? Who�s your daddy? The other poor folks would gain coverage (don�t say it too loud) through �a broad expansion of Medicaid,� which after all is a single-payer plan. Shhh! I never said that.

I guess you�re wondering where Santa�s getting the wherewithal to pay for this. Well, in Times-speak, �the bill would impose an array of fees and taxes, which will increase the payroll tax for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000,� actually very-Reaganesque, except he laid the tax increase on everybody. So points here for Bam-bam. There will also be �an excise tax� on �Cadillac insurance plans,� like the ones Congress, the president, and Bill Gates have. And, seniors, you�ll be not to glad to hear this: the bill calls for �major reductions in government spending, by slowing the growth of Medicare.� Exactly how, it doesn�t mention. Those elves don�t want to get pelted with snowballs coming down the Capitol steps at one in the morning. But be there if you can.

All this fun, says the Congressional Budget Office, will go for $871 billion for 10 years and �be more than offset� by new revenues (like slowing the growth of Medicare,etc.). It goes on to claim it would actually reduce future federal budget deficits by $132 billion between 2010 and 2019. Let�s hope they don�t need new calculators because guess who will pick up the slack? Not Santa. You! Oh boy, what a blizzard of letters, emails, and petitions will be flying. By gosh, that mere 10 inches we got in NYC and 16.4 inches in DC this weekend will look like a dusting instead of a blizzard!

By the way, Senator Kennedy�s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, was there, in the front row of the spectator gallery, hoping for the best. Behind her sat secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, and director of the White House Office of [botched] Health Reform, Nancy-Ann DeParle. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, told her after the voting, �Without him [Teddy), it never would have happened.� Sorry, guy, it didn�t. Ted Kennedy was a single-payer dude, top to bottom, RIP.

The rest of it all was pretty acrimonious, with the Republicans tossing as many obstacles as possible (and no sand or salt) on this slippery path of ice. So, keep your fingers crossed, folks. As Orin Hatch, one of Kennedy�s closest buddies who worked him on various bipartisan health care bills, said, �Democrats had failed to live up to Mr. Kennedy�s spirit of cooperation.� Well, they�re cooperating, like Obama, with the insurance companies and the money to win re-election. But, what do I know. I�m just a crazy old guy who first voted for JFK, who passed on his vision of Medicare and Medicaid to LBJ to be accomplished. And the old outlaw did.

But then, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, 92, who spots me 19 years, sat there in a wheelchair, lovable elf and accomplished blue grass violinist that he is, and didn�t let the bad vibes get to him. When you�ve got music in you, you�ve got love, which brings me to my last point. What say on the morning this is published, you gather your family and sing, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. In case, you�ve forgotten the words, here they are . . .

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I�m telling you why
Santa�s health bill is coming to town

He�s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who�s naughty and nice
Santa�s health bill is coming to town

He sees you when you�re sleeping
He knows when you�re awake
He knows if you�ve been sick or good
So be good for goodness sake!

OOOOO! You better watch out!
better not cry
Better not pout
I�m telling you why
Santa�s health bill is coming to town
Maybe his health bill is coming to town!

Merry, merry y�all, from Rockefeller Center and the Christmas Tree, from Macy�s to Bergdorf�s, Harlem to Battery Park, East Side to West Side, and to all those who don�t agree with us. We know you�re human. Just let�s all try to act like it, at least for one night and day.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. Reach him at His new book, State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on� is available at, Amazon or

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