In Dec. 24 IssueRussell County NewsBy Kathy Foley, Columnist
This has been a difficult and disappointing year for most progressive Democrats.
But fortunately, we do have several reasons to take heart. Finally, the odious "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy in the military has been repealed by Congress. We can celebrate the fact that one more vile bastion of discrimination has been eliminated in this country.
Of course, most of the old, white fogeys like Mitch McConnell and John McCain are still whining about what a disaster this is going to be for our military-no doubt much like old, white fogeys did when the military was forced to stop discriminating against African-Americans in the military.
Oddly enough, that didn't destroy the strength and morale of our fighting forces like they predicted it would. And allowing Gays and Lesbians to serve openly won't either.
Although I was and am still extremely opposed to extending the Bush Tax Cuts to the wealthiest Americans (and paying for them with borrowed money), I do see the benefits of most of the other provisions in the compromise tax bill that was passed.
So, like most other progressive Dems, I am holding my nose on this one.
And if we can add to the deficit to increase the wealth of the already wealthy, then I don't see why we can't go ahead and approve the bill to take care of the 9/11 first responders who risked their lives during an act of war. Naturally, Mitch McConnell and many of his cronies in Congress are opposed to this because those first responders are working-class Americans-not millionaires or billionaires-unable to contribute huge amounts to their coffers, so why help them?
The "Lie of the Year" according to Politifact.com is the Republicans' constant use of the term "a government takeover of health care" when talking of the new Health Care Bill passed back in March. Others, like FactCheck.org (an independent fact-checking group run by the University of Pennsylvania); Princeton University professor and expert in health care economics, Uwe Reinhardt; and, Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill-all claim that the label 'government takeover' has no basis in reality.
As always, however, the Republicans didn't let the facts get in their way. The phrase was used hundreds of times during the debate over the bill and then revived during the fall election campaigns. The phrase appears more than 90 times on John Boehner's website, GOPLeader.gov. It was mentioned 8 times in the 48-page Republican campaign platform "A Pledge to America" as part of their plan to "repeal and replace the government takeover of health care."
The Republican National Committee's website mentions a government takeover of health care more than 200 times, and the list goes on. This is just one more example of how the Republicans believe that if they say something often enough, it will make it true.
While repeating it doesn't make it true, it does the next best thing-it makes their base believe that it's true and that's all that really matters.
We can also rest a little easier now that Congress passed a new Food Safety Bill which will strengthen the government's power to increase inspections of food processing facilities, force companies to recall tainted food, place stricter standards on imported foods and require larger producers to follow tougher rules for keeping food safe.
This bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent-no doubt, something which would have been impossible to do if Rand Paul was already seated in the Senate.
So, although there have been many disappointments for us progressives this past year.
I am taking heart in our small victories, and as an eternal optimist, I look forward to 2011.
Our new Congress should, if nothing else, provide plenty of entertainment.
Merry Christmas to all!