2010-01-01 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Politicians Think Extortion Is Crompromise
Commentary By Howard Schwach

You would think that a new year would bring a new outlook on life, particularly moving into my 71st year, but I just can’t help the feeling that our nation is slipping into a grand funk that will rival that of the 1930’s, the time we call The Great Depression for more reasons than the financial crisis.

At least, at that time, we had a patrician president named Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was not afraid to take on the interests that represented his birthright.

Today, all politicians are whores, trading their honor for votes and power.

They would no more take on the interests that keep them in power than they would live on the street in a cardboard box.

Take the health care issue. I am in favor of health care reform and believe that every American has the right to affordable health care.

To me it is a seminal issue, a nobrainer that demands people get the testing, treatment and medication they need in a timely and affordable manner to remain healthy and alive.

That is why I am against the health care reform bill currently being pushed by the Senate.

The Democratic leadership might call it the necessary compromise that’s needed to get the necessary vote to pass the “first step in health care reform,” but I call it bribery and blackmail.

If the Mafia had held up businessmen like some Senators held up the leadership, they would have been tried under the RICO Statute.

Want me to vote for your bill? Give me millions in federal money in perpetuity for my state.

Doesn’t matter whether the bill is good or bad for America, or even the people of Nebraska, show me the money, honey, Senator Ben Nelson effectively told his fellow Senators.

Meanwhile, both of our Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, supported the bill like good Democrats, demanding nothing and losing billions of dollars for their home state.

They stand there with their thumbs you know where and let their home state get raped by a small group of their peers simply so that the president can show at least one victory before his first year in office ends.


I call it criminal extortion.

They ought to haul Nelson and Joe Lieberman out in handcuffs and put them in front of the bench.

We ought to impeach Schumer and Gillibrand for committing treason against the people of New York State.

They had a grand idea and they let it slip away by giving in to the baser politics involved in getting the grand 60 votes necessary to keep the equally nefarious Republicans from scuttling any chance of a health care reform bill.

Gillibrand is a lightweight, only in the Senate because Governor David Paterson had to pay one political debt or another.

Schumer, however, has always been a fighter but he’s been uncharacteristically quiet about the rape of New York State in the current health care bill.

The Senate health care bill will cost the state $1.25 billion with a B each year. The state, which covers half of its Medicaid costs each year will continue to do so while most other state will get 100 percent coverage for the first three years of the bill, and then 82 to 95 percent each year thereafter and Nebraska will get 100 percent of the bill forever.

In addition, New York City will lose funding for 100 community health centers and Mayor Mike Bloomberg says that he will have no choice but to close them down.

What does Schumer say about that?

“I will fight as hard as I can to undo the deep cuts in Medicaid for New York when the final bill is negotiated with the House,” he said last week.

That does not sound like Schumer and it does not sound like he will be able to do anything about the people of New York paying the Medicaid bill for the people of Nebraska so Ben Nelson can provide President Obama an empty victory.

Schumer is not doing the people’s business, but he is doing the party’s business and the President’s business.

In fact, there is nobody in the Senate doing the people’s business.

The Senators are so busy wheeling and dealing, compromising and tying up votes that they have lost sight of what serving the nation and the citizens is all about.

Now, it’s all about money and power and the ability to get what you want no matter what impact it has on the nation.

The really sad part is that our elected officials really believe that there is nothing wrong with extorting your fellow politicians in order to get a little extra for you constituents.

Senator Tom Harkins called the compromise on the health care bill “small stuff,” and said “rather than sitting here and carping on what Nelson got for Nebraska, I would say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, let’s get together and see what we can get for South Carolina.”

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid was even more succinct on the issue.

“I don’t know if there is a Senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that was important to them. And, if they don’t have something in the bill that is important to then, well, that doesn’t speak well of them.”

It is bad enough to jam through legislation in the dark of night, but it is worse to come to a compromise on the bill only by sweetening the pot with legal bribery for one state at the expense of others.

Even many of those in favor of a health care bill that will provide the vital care to every American are opposed to the way the present bill was approved.

In order to get the 60 votes necessary to block a Republican filibuster, the Democratic leadership provided perks for the last few votes.

Vote for the bill, and we’ll block funding for abortions.

Vote for the bill and your state will never again have to worry about fundng your Medicade costs. What does the legal bribery say to our young people, those who are just preparing to enter the political arena as voters and as full participants in our democracy?

What is says is that our politicians can be bought, and it doesn’t matter whether they are bought for personal gain or for something extra for their constituents.

We have been saying this ever since City Councilman James Sanders Jr. was bought by Mike Bloomberg with the promise of a new vocational school.

Extortion is extortion, plain and simple.

We should not be seeing this from our national legislators.

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