While we continue to pray for Ted Kennedy and his loved ones, his prognosis is apparently not a hopeful one. Nevertheless, the last liberal lion is working on a legacy he can pass on to the next great liberal hope: socialized medicine.
From his sickbed, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has secretly been orchestrating meetings with lobbyists and lawmakers from both parties to craft legislation that would greet the new president with a plan to provide affordable medical coverage to all Americans, a measure he has called “the cause of my life.”
Mr. Kennedy has been sidelined for months with a dangerous form of brain cancer. But despite his disheartening medical prognosis – or maybe because of it – aides and activists say, the Massachusetts Democrat’s decades-long quest for health care reform may now be closer to success than ever.
“There is a serious process moving forward and that augurs well,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a nonprofit health care advocacy group. “There really is a sea change that should not be underestimated in terms of attitude…”
Mr. Kennedy’s goal, his aides say, is to introduce a universal health care bill as soon as the new Congress convenes next year and to push quickly for its passage – a much-accelerated timetable compared with the last time that a health care overhaul was on the agenda, at the start of the Clinton administration.
“Senator Kennedy has spent the last several weeks laying the groundwork for reform so that we can be ready to go in 2009,” said his spokesman Anthony Coley. “This is and has been the cause of Senator Kennedy’s life.”
One of the major challenges facing the next president — whether it’s John McCain or Barack Obama — will be dealing with expanded liberal majorities in both House and Senate. Further, many Democrats kept their powder dry in the last two years to improve their chances of winning this election. Regardless of who wins, the liberal leaders and committee chairmen are chafing to move the agenda their supporters have been waiting for.
Given his influence on health care legislation and nearly 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, Kennedy can probably dictate what bill will pass the Senate. And knowing Ted Kennedy, his plan is likely to either directly provide for socialized medicine, or put us on the path to it. If Barack Obama is president, how likely is he to stand in the way of Ted Kennedy’s dream?